Who Is the Outsider?


I recently started watching the new “Hawaii Five-0” television series from the beginning and one of the words that shows up frequently, especially in relation to Detective Danny “Danno” Williams, is “haole”. “Haole” is the Hawaiian word for “outsider”, and, honestly, it makes me bristle a bit to hear it sometimes, just like it does Danno. So many movies and stories are predicated on the plot of the outsider making good, finding common ground, and becoming part of his surroundings/community. So many languages have a word for outsider – gadjo, gaijin, haole, jackeen, msungu, for example. It makes me think. It makes me wonder.

Have I ever been seen as the outsider?

I know that I have seen myself that way before and it served to make me afraid and worried about doing well and thriving in a new community. When I first arrived at graduate school is a prime example of this, and it took a great deal of encouragement and love from friends and family far away and a fair amount of courage on my part to overcome it. But I do wonder if anyone else has ever seen me as an outsider.

Admitting new people into our lives and into our social circles is a part of life, though not always easy. Learning to share our friends, our family, the people whom we have seen as ours one way or another, can be incredibly difficult, but it opens us up to chances at new friendships, new relationships, which are pretty scary in their own right. I’ve stepped out and gotten to know people, admitted them into my life, into my circle, and sometimes it has worked out wonderfully, and sometimes it hasn’t. That’s life. I will admit, however, to having thoughts of “hey, they are mine” when I have seen friends make friends and hang out with new people, and that is where I have to stop, take stock, and remind myself that these people have done nothing wrong to me, neither set. Also, everyone deserves and needs friends and that, above all things, I want my friends, the dear ones in my life, to be happy. So while there may indeed be people who are ‘outsiders’ to my life, I often have to remind myself that they do not deserve to be thought of or treated so. I needed people to accept me and all the connections that I would make throughout my life that would also weave through theirs, so I can owe someone else nothing less than that same acceptance. Even if we never become ‘insiders’ to each other’s lives, I don’t want to see or think of them as an outsider. It would set us at odds and that can weigh heavily on the mind and soul.

But it still prods me to wonder, to even ask the question: have you ever seen me as an outsider?

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