“You can’t be what you can’t see”

This is a quote from an article about GoldieBlox, a manufacturer of toys for young girls. I agree with this quote, and I think GoldieBlox has a noble mission to inspire girls to get into male-dominated fields.

I agree with this quote because it can be applied to a variety of situations, particularly when one is part of the minority. It could be a woman in a male-dominated group, the single Asian in a team of 15, or the only Catholic in a group of 30, or a gay man in a class that skews male. The people who are outsiders in these situations share in the experience that they are not part of the larger group. They see things a little differently. They are more observant of the aspects that give them entry into the group, as well as those that segregate them from the majority.

I have always felt that I’m always the odd one out– I’ve been in countless situations when I’ve been an outsider. Whether as the new girl in school, a newly arrived immigrant, an Angeleno transplant in Chicago, or a minority in an industry that is not known for diversity, I’ve seen it all. Then I realized that identity is multifaceted, and I have a lot of things in common with the people who seem to fit right along with everyone else– everyone has felt slightly uncertain, everyone in America is an immigrant or a descendant of one, many have moved to various places and it is rare to find people in my generation to have stayed in one place throughout his or her life. I’m not saying prejudice, whether intended or inadvertently directed, does not exist– it does, and I’m sure it happens everyday. But I think I’ve focused more on my commonalities with others, and it has been easier to connect with them with this idea at the top of my mind.

I still believe that role models are important and a re-imagining of the world where you are accepted as a leader is empowering. The more I see people I identify with in positions of power– whether woman, Asian, immigrant, alumni, industry colleague– the greater it impacts my perspective of what I could potentially be down the line. So yes, I look up to leaders who represent their true selves. In doing so, they inspire me to be my true self, regardless of others’ acceptance of it. Thanks to my inspirations, I can be what I can see. I hope to be a role model for the causes I stand for, too.

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