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The Strength of the Lotus: Part 2


As an immigrant and a woman, she immidiatley becomes an outsider as she steps foot on a foreign land. The food, culture, and language is unfamilar; there is no time to rewind. She craves acceptance from the new community yet does not know how to seek it.

One particular aspect of the talk that resonated with me was her take on being an outsider. I myself have been the outsider. As someone who moved to California with little knowledge of the culture and language, I was on the periphery. I could not understand the conversations of my classmates as they spoke rapid, fluent English. I did not get their jokes and banter. I could barely understand my teacher as she slowly repeated the instructions to me. The world was strange to me; I was strange to it.

Le reminds us that it's okay to be an outsider. In fact, it builds empathy and encourages introspection. It makes us think. Being on the inside means following the norms of the in-group and accepting it as natural or good. Being an outsider, however, allows on to question the norms and behaviors of groups, evaluate them, and make an educated decision of whether those behaviors are right or wrong. By the same token, being an outsider curates empathy for those who deviate from the mainstram realm of accpetance. It builds strong moral character and self-determination. Once upon a time, I too struggled to find an "in-group." As an elementary and middle schooler, I was set on the idea of finding my "group." I wanted to fit in, just as many other immmigrant girls did. I suppose I did "fit in" eventaully, at the cost of sometimes voicing my own opinions and expressing myself. When the group overwhelmingly went one way, I did so with them in order to be accpeted and to remain on the inside of its boundaries.

As I grew older, however, I learned that being an "insider" can cloud one's judgement. There is beauty in being different, being a little deviant from the mainstream group. My cultural experiences make me unique; to hide that cultural experience and that part of me I carried overseas means erasing a crucial aspect of my own identity.

Being an outsider means standing up for others and standing up for what is right. Le details that as she reached higher in her career as an activist, she was invited into the in-groups that she had never even dreamt of: the opulent sides of upper-class Australia, worlds apart from the working-class immigrant community she grew up in. She did not know the etiquette, or as she puts it "which cutlery to use." Her feeling of being an outside resurfaces once again from her childhood. However, as an adult, she sees this position as one of power rather than one of weakness. Being an outsider builds a resilience and a skepticism of mainstream conventions. We need outsiders to question the social rules that many abide blindly by; through questioning, positive change occurs.

My experience of being the outsider taught me to question, to learn, and also to adapt. It makes me a stronger human being. As a young girl who could not speak a bit of English, I learned to find strength in my own self. I pushed myself to learn, and to lead. Ultimately, being an outside is a unique experience that one should not disregard or discredit. It is not something to be hidden away in a dark corner, despised and abondoned. Being the outside ties closely to the root of out own identity and it meaningfully shapes us in so many ways.


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