Uh, Hello. It’s Lydia.
Apart from being aware of my awkwardness (look at my difficulty in coming up with a title and appropriate introduction) and identifying as pretty introverted person—I would have to say that it is my experiences that have greatly influenced the person that I am today.
My name is Lydia Negussie. I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My family and I later immigrated to the states when I was 4 years old. While growing up I tried my best to balance my Ethiopian culture and the American culture. I tried and failed a lot, but I also learned the importance of perspective and respect.
One of the most important lessons that shaped the way I see the world was one of the importance of listening in order to understand. At an early age I became aware of the necessity for an earnest interest in seeking to understand the people around me instead of judging those who had ways that were different than mine.
These experiences have led me to want to try my best to listen before I speak, to seek to hear personal stories instead of taking gossip or stereotypes at face value. To understand that humans are human, everyone makes mistakes, but a single person cannot under any circumstance represent his or her entire “group” of people.
There are not many things that I hate. But the things that I do hate, I have decided to list because they relate to what I am motivated to do with my life.
I hate it when humans are not treated like humans.
I hate it when people are silenced, and spoken for by the more dominant group instead of being empowered to speak for themselves.
I hate it when we don’t treat others the way that we would like to be treated.
And lastly, I hate it when a person tries to speak, but no one will listen, and instead shuts that person down by citing stereotypes as if they were facts.
I find that a lot of the time, I don’t make the things that are wrong in the world personal. I am guilty of trying my best to live in a dazed, detached, state. But I would really like to change that.
My dreams and goals used to be more about my personal success and were mostly tailored around how my future success would change the way that people would see me.
So that’s what I strove for…until I realized that I would only fail, and continue to fail at finding permanent things to make me feel better about myself. This is because if I was always going to compare myself to the success of others around me, I was never going to be fully satisfied. I was always going to be striving, but never fully reaching the ambiguous idea of success that I had embraced. I would always feel like a failure.
It was when I felt like everything that I had wanted to go right was going wrong that I realized that a lot of other people also feel this way. In fact—a lot of other people feel this way and it is not just because their pride is hurt, and they didn’t ace their midterm like they thought they should have. People feel this way because of the way that they were treated and continue to be treated.
I realized that tending my battered ego was ridiculous when there were people who were desperately trying to mend their broken parts.
I gained perspective from realizing that life is not always all about me. Life is about taking advantage of all of the opportunities that I have been blessed with by observing disparities and creating opportunities for those who would otherwise not have had one.
It was when I finally shifted my focus from myself to the people around me that I began to notice those who were hurting all around me. Whether it was from social constructions that left people at a perpetually disadvantaged state, the covering up of class stratification, or women in third world countries who were not receiving education because of long-established gender roles—I wanted to do all that was in my power to learn more about what was happening around me so that I could be in a position to do something about it.
I am currently sophomore who is studying Neuroscience and Sociology at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities. My mission in life is to not only defend the marginalized, but to provide them with an opportunity to be heard. I hope to give them the spotlight so that they can, in turn, do the same for others.