This phrase, ba’al tshuvah, literally means a person who has repented, changed his ways, returned to the fold. Frequently it is associated with people who never were religious, rather they turned inward at some point in their lives, sought out spirituality and meaning, and found it in Yehadus, Judaism.
When the find is Orthodox, then the Orthodox call them ba’alai tshuvah, persons who have returned. Of course this bothers me. They didn’t know anything much about the religion before. What’s this return, thing?
And it’s another way of stating that those who have been raised Orthodox are superior, which may be true in some ways. I'm in awe of some of the people I know, to to you the truth, those raised religiously, meaning to always look for opportunities to be helpful, who never miss an opportunity to do the right thing. This is how we see service to the Creator.
So they are superior, for sure.
But they're modest and wouldn't own any of that, pretty much beat their chests, beat themselves up all the time for not doing more.
Not every Orthodox person does, but many do, whereas the non-observant who do that are thought to have low self-esteem.