Thursday, 4 April 2013

Self-doubt: The Enemy Within

I have news to share with you. A while back I applied for a judge’s associate position at the Sydney registry of the Federal Court. I was shortlisted to be interviewed and turned up the morning of my interview scared and nervous. A very senior judge sat behind his large oak desk and I sat in the little sofa chair a metre away, my fingers interlocking each other and gripping all the blood out of my hands. It was enough consolation after the interview just to know I did the best I could and I would never have to go through that again. I will know on Friday apparently. 

Friday morning came and went. I was resigned and ready to take a nap. 
My phone rang. 
“I thought best to call you now and let you know… 

“After careful deliberation…
“I just want you to know that… 
“If you want the job, it’s yours” 
I could not contain my joy. 
“Thank you, thank you your Honour!” 
Oh man. What a good feeling. 
I am gay and I am Asian. He had sense and he chose me. 

Was I supposed to be proud of that fact? There’s no doubt I should be proud. I should be proud of my achievements. I should be proud that he saw talent in me. I should be proud of my enthusiasm. But should I be proud of having overcome some deficiency or defect inside me?
That I thought these characteristics were some defect reveals something about our society. There is a stigma attached to difference. You begin to recognise the power structures in society and you begin to accept, subconsciously, that some part of you exists to your detriment. 
No matter how good you are you are still different. Different and lesser. 
It is hard to hear these thoughts being spoken of so plainly. If I read someone else’s self doubt my stomach would wrench in empathy. 

But this is a good story. We should not turn this story about success into a reason to grieve. Quite the opposite. This story vindicates all the progress society has made. As our straight allies cast away their prejudices we cast away our own self doubt. Thereby we can march together step by step into a society that accepts diversity and difference as virtues. Today I have reason to celebrate. Tomorrow I hope another young queer person has reason to celebrate too.

By Nathan Li


  1. What an amazing person, what an amazing story of life. Congratulations to you young man. yo are the future! Thanks B.k Ayala for bringing this to my attention. I am a 48year old hetro that loves the strength of empowerment by those that are judged by those that have no idea.

    rock On people.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Darrel :) we are really proud of the strength our scholars show in their lives and love that we're able to support them. Thank you for supporting us :)

  2. And, Yes you are better than good enough!

  3. Thanks Darrel! The support from our allies is overwhelmingly important to us :)