Leveraging the power of being an outsider — Empowerment

Sura Karnawi
2 min readOct 7, 2021
blue and turquoise flat brush feathering a weird girls wears light turquoise color clothes and a tall hat. leveraging the power of being an outsider painting by Sura karnawi

I owe big part of my creativity to having a sense of not belonging growing up, also having immigrated and choosing a career path that made me question belonging in the field as a woman. It forced me to think in a way I call it an insider & outsider person.

The human nature forces us to find the common ground. We seek what is common as that what feels comfortable. Instead of just looking for common ground familiarity, we need to celebrate what is different and be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. If you take group of people in a team, and if they are largely similar, they also most likely will contribute to largely similar ideas and ways of thinking.

It’s easy to be yourself when you are in a group of people who are similar to you and when you’re in an environment that’s familiar to you. However it feels intimidating to start new job, or immigrate to new country, as being yourself can be challenged, it’s not naturally comfortable to be different.

Most people will try either to seek comfort and try to fit in, or just be critical and observing. while most people will tend to choose one, I argue that there’s so much value in being both at the same time; an insider who seeks comfort, understanding and tries to fit into the surroundings, while being a critical observant, keeping a distance and having a fresh perspective.

Being an insider and outsider at the same time, that means you are free to move in and out of groups. of course you will realize that the status quo in each group is often just self-imposed. When bringing whole-self to your environment, specially if you belong to marginalized group. There’s benefit of you represent your whole demographic, there’s the innovation part. That’s where change and shift in culture happens. it’s an opportunity to teach others, it’s an opportunity to bring change and innovation.

You have to challenge any self imposed traps. One of the traps that society lays for us, like privilege is something that you either have or you don’t have, it’s like a switch. By that I mean bringing my whole self to your environment and consciously contributing to be an outsider. A person who can understand and willing to submerge into surrounding, yet at the same time maintaining a distance and having a fresh perspective to criticize and come up with new ideas. That’s birthplace of creativity and innovation! Every creative person knows what is like to be part of creative community but also know what’s like to be able stand alone and try something completely different by expressing themselves.



Sura Karnawi

I feel the more I live the more I become convinced I don’t need more knowledge, materials or anything I just need more open heart & open mind to people & ideas