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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

If you don’t belong anywhere, enjoy everywhere

If you’re someone who feels like an outsider often, paradoxically, you may also be the type of person who can adapt everywhere. Besides, feeling like an outsider is an extremely common experience and is linked to imposterism and modern work culture.

As someone who grew up between the Global South and the Global North, I’ve never had fixed cultural reference points AND I had access to much cultural wealth.Last month, it was a true delight to meet Jeremy Paxman at the wonderful Contrarian Prize awards founded by Ali Miraj.

The Contrarian Prize is a fascinating initiative celebrating the personal integrity of those who diverge from group think - deliberate outsiders!

In my youth, Jeremy Paxman as a living British institution provided much edification for me and my family through the University Challenge programme while we got used to a new home. It offered us the opportunity to gather and laugh while learning something. It also reinforced the importance of education and excellence, and valuing opportunities on offer over and above cultural differences.

Whether from the strength of Jeremy’s influence or not, I ended up at the same university and same college as him!

While economic mobility is an advantage in today’s globalised capitalism, it can be tough orienting and adapting.

I believe it’s important to remember to nurture our human essence, both as individuals – remembering to tap into what’s universal in order to connect with and enjoy any cultural wealth – but also collectively to create work cultures where diversity isn’t just encouraged but seen as the magnificent future that’s already here.


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