Translating Yourself for Others

I have noticed a tendency to approach in-group/out-group differences with strong, polarizing feelings. Almost every human on earth has felt alone, detrimentally unique, a rare and unlikely combination of traits and facets. A group of individuals who share a subset of traits utilize and understand a common language requiring no explanation. When in a group of mostly others, you become more acutely aware of that difference. Do you ever feel resentment over having to translate who you are when presenting yourself to those with whom you do not share a particular trait?

It occurred to me that people from marginalized communities are not alone in experiencing this, marginalization depending on context and how wide or narrow the demographic scope. Everyone at some point has had to translate themselves for other people, even if those others already share many similarities.

Ideally, and perhaps in a few years, the number of characteristics requiring translation will lessen. Until then, we have a twofold responsibility. The first, to try to recognize when someone in your audience does not share the language, culture, trait from which you are speaking at the moment. The second, to try to use grace, to grant benefit of the doubt, when you are that individual. Broad awareness is increasing as time moves forward, steadily and inexorably.

1 thought on “Translating Yourself for Others”

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