Tough Love in Translation

“You’re so fat”

“You’re stupid”

“What’s WRONG with YOU!?”

After almost two years living on my own, I finally moved back home with my parents. Those were the words that spat at me the first 7 days of moving back. Did I cry? Of course. I didn’t even know what I did to encourage those words from my parents.

I knew moving back with my parents would not be easy but necessary given the many changes in my life. But I never anticipated it to be as hard as it was.

Since 18, I knew I had to run away. By that, I mean going to a university that required me to live away from home and near campus. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. At that point, I felt more loved by my parents than ever before. My lack of presence gave them excitement whenever I came home. They missed me and cherished the 48 hours of my weekend that I could offer to them.

Before university, it wasn’t pretty. It never was. I was never good enough, smart enough, skinny enough. You could say it was an “Asian” thing but I’m sure there are non-Asians who had parents alike.

But during university, and into my young career as a professional public accountant, I found my confidence to allow myself to acknowledge that I am good enough, smart enough, and healthy enough.

As a child, your natural instincts is to make your parents proud. That’s all I ever wanted. But somehow, they constantly remind me that I haven’t achieved that yet, despite what they may might say to their friends. And it breaks everything inside of me, from my confidence to my soul.

I spent probably 30 minutes on day 7 [of moving in] just crying my eyes out and wondering why this is happening to me. I didn’t want to talk to my friends because I didn’t think they could understand.

Somehow, through the lowest times in my life, Sara texts me at the most ironic yet perfect times to ask me “how I am”. We probably haven’t talked in months before then. From our conversation, I was reminded that “[my] self worth isn’t determined by what they think of [me] but what [I] think of [my]self”. As much as my parents can emotionally beat me down occasionally, I have to remind myself of where I am today, what my accomplishments have been in the recent years, and how I’ve grown to become successful in my life on my own. It was a relief to cry in the moment at that time, but now it’s time to just move on to keep going and doing what I do because I know I’m at a great place in my life right now and it will only get better from here.

My parents may not have the heart to say that they love me and are proud of me in person, but I know deep down they are. I think they probably have some belief that their negative reinforcement has contributed to the achievements and successes in my life and want to continue to be a part of that in their own way. But I can’t take everything they say to heart because I know myself better than anyone else.

Stay Strong

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Game Changer

The best of friends are truly the ones that inspire you to be a better person than you already are. So I dedicate this to few of my best friends who inspired me this year to come up with an action plan, which I am so excited to share to everyone. But first, I want to acknowledge the few friends who have inspired me at this point:

Sara: I still remember the  random call I gave her back in March, after several months of disconnect, breaking down about the career path I was in. She inspired me through her own personal story as she shifted gears from the professional marketing guru that she was to now becoming a naturopath. Follow her blog here. Her fearlessness made me realize you can make changes happen at any time and no one can stop you but yourself.

Allen: To be honest, when Allen told me he wanted to start a food truck, I giggled. He graduated from university studying economics. So from there, you would think the typical path would be somewhere in the corporate world. But not for Allen. He’s on a mission to start a food truck in Toronto, by traveling to L.A. and Asia for food inspiration. He knew the corporate, white collar job was not for him. And he’s not afraid to talk about his mission to start a food truck on his website, twitter, or tumblr. Alllen’s drive and passion for food made me realize you need to love what you do – and people will love you for it too.

Bryan: Bryan is probably one of the smartest friends I know from university. He could be anything he wanted to be without even trying! After a short stint doing the office job, he just had the bug to do what he always wanted to do: teach snowboarding in Vancouver. I couldn’t be happier for him. And with that said, I wanted to try something I always wanted to do too: acting!

So what’s my game plan???

I’ve decided to accumulate all my vacation days (and some additional leave of absence days) at work to take two months off next summer to travel to LA to learn acting and find opportunities for some acting gigs. It’s always been on my mind to go back to the City of Angels since my last visit in June! To do what I love to do in the city I love would only be a dream come true. As they say:

Playing the Victim

I am back! And I didn’t want to come back without having been inspired by something to write and share to my readers.

Once again, I am fixated by a recurring theme in my acting class that resonates so much in my own twenty-something life.

I was given a monologue where my character goes on about a fun, light-hearted memory of her and her brother, as kids, playing a prank on their mother. My character jokingly tells her mother that her brother died from a bad car accident while her brother hid in the backyard. When the prank was done, her mother cried not knowing it was just a joke. My character’s innocence at the young age didn’t understand her mother’s cry until years later, when her brother ultimately passed away and was never coming back.

My initial performance of this monologue was what my instructor deemed as “playing the victim”: feeling guilt, remorse, sad, and nothing more. He said that playing the victim makes the scene “boring” because the character has given up and that there is no sense of hope. Whether the character should use her loss as a fight of frustration or hope that things get better, makes it all the more entertaining than just to “give up”.

Take Gladiator for example. In the very last fight scene, Russell Crowe’s character was stabbed right before he entered the Colliseum. Did he show a sign of loss hope in his last battle? No, he fought until he won before he fell upon his death.

Sadly, I do “play the victim” in my life on my lowest days, whether it be at work, relationships, etc. I let things get to me, and hold on to it with no sense that things will get better or accept that it’s for my own good. It’s not that I’m pesstimistic about life, I just surrender and accept that things are the way they are, and I have no control over it.

But that’s not at all true. I do have control of my life!

I know this sounds like my typical inspirational blurb, maybe moreso to reassure myself more than anything. But the truth is, two random strangers confronted me at two separate clubbing events about this in the past three months. The first person (female), intoxicated as ever can be, walked up to me and held her hands on the sides of my cheeks and said, “You are so beautiful, you should not be sad”. I didn’t even realize I had a frown on my face before she came up to me. I do admit, though that I was not having as much fun as I should because I ended up submerging myself into thoughts of loneliness even though I was accompanied by a group of friends.

The second person (male) that confronted me actually walked by me twice and stared at me. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, but I think he was fed up with my sad face that as we passed by each other again, he said to me “You need to smile”.

And that’s when I had it – not with these people – but with myself.

I’m playing the victim where I have found myself to not think I’m worthy enough of being in a relationship, that no one would ever want to date me, and that I should give up and accept the fact that I’m going to be single for awhile.

And because of that, I think I actually push away guys from approaching me.

Playing the victim is not only boring, but it’s unattractive.

I know I am more worthy than I come off to be, but I’m still in search of defining who I am. That’s all it really comes down too.

New Hope, New Me

I thought I was beginning to lose faith in this World. I felt like everyone and everything in my life was turning against me, and it was never going to end. At the end of February, I had my breaking point. I said to myself, “You know what, World, just keep making everything miserable for me.  As a matter of fact, if you want my life, just take it. I give up.”

By March, I told my manager I wanted a one week leave of absence. I just needed vacation to rethink things in my life, even if I had to fly solo on this vacation. I left to South Beach and felt liberated. My best friends came on the third day of my stay. Upon my return,  things were falling back into place in my life – or so I thought.

Work became an unhappy place for me again and I was involved in a relationship that constantly made me feel unwanted and unworthy.

Fortunately, I just snapped one day. I spent a Saturday morning in class writing a 5-hour accounting practice exam and I could not focus. I just watched time eat itself while I stared blankly at my paper asking why am I here, why am I doing this, and how I wish I could be somewhere else right now. Then I started writing things on my paper on what I can look forward to after my exam to keep me motivated to continue to just stay focus. I wrote:

  1. Stay Focus
  2. Look forward to hot yoga
  3. Look forward to self-help books

I don’t know where in the world the third point came from, but it just came to me that day. Then I recalled talking to my friend Sara months back about how she read this self-help book that really made changes in her life. To be honest, I was really resistant to reading any self-help book. How can a book change my life? I have read, watched, and listened to many inspirational stories but they only really hold onto me for that time that I have acknowledged it. Beyond that, I’m back to where I am.

After giving the practice exam my “best” effort, I was finally free and I charged straight into the book store to search for that book. The sales associate at the store assisted me in search of this book and told me how popular it was. Once I found the book, I felt like I struck gold:

"You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay

The difference between hearing others talk about their inspirational stories versus a self help book like Louise L. Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”, is that she’s talking to you to change. And the power to change is and has always been within you. When I first read the book, I was really resistant to her theories and ideologies. And soon enough, about a few chapters in, Hay responds to me as if she is talking to me saying that resistance is the first step to acknowledging the fact that you are “willing to change”. So, I practiced like she said in her book and looked into the mirror and said to myself “I am willing to change”. You may be thinking – that’s so easy – anyone can do that. But really, it was so hard for me. I came into this thinking everything around me needed to change – not me. Why am I the problem?

As soon as I was able to finally accept that I was (and still am) willing to change, I worked on documenting how I felt with certain aspects with my life as follows from Hay’s exercise:

  1. Work: “I’m not good enough”
  2. Relationships: “I’m not lovable enough”
  3. Family: “I’m not cared for enough”
  4. Friends: “I’m not important enough”
  5. Body/face: “I’m not skinny/pretty enough”

Instinctively, I have always responded to the above as to how I’m going to fix these negative things in my life. But according to Hay, “fighting the negative is a total waste of time if you really want to make changes in your life. The more you dwell on what you don’t want, the more of it you create”. And that was the turning point in everything I ever thought of myself in the past. I always fought against the negative, but I never ran and embraced with the positive things in life.

So everyday, every moment, I think of something in the past that is holding me from willing to change, I tell myself things that are positive to create the place where I do want to be now and into the future:

  • I now create a wonderful new job
  • I experience love whereever I go
  • I am self-worthy of good things in life
  • I approve of myself and all aspects of who I am
  • I have a happy and healthy body
  • Most importantly, “all is well in my world”

These are just small snippets of what I really practice each day. But since I’ve started, I’ve been seeing little changes in my life slowly progress to things I didn’t imagine that could happen to me [good things]. As much as I used to say it’s all coincidence, it’s really not. I’m taking the time to finally recognize my self-worth and my self-approval in this world.

I can sense that great things will come into my life eventually and I plan to share that with you all as they come.

I can’t thank enough Sara for recommending this book to me and Louise L. Hay for giving me a new outlook on life.

Dear Journal

Last night, something agitated me that I couldn’t exactly put myself to bed until I vented. So I took a piece of legal paper and started writing by hand. I began with the words “Dear Journal” because it was meant to be a personal journal post to myself in hopes that I would read it again in the future – and hopefully laugh at it then than how I really feel right now. It wasn’t my intention to publish this on my blog but I felt it was fitting for my theme of my blog (re: https://thelondonsocialite.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/im-no-jane-doe/). I hope my female young professionals can relate:

Dear Journal,

I haven’t written one [journal] in a long time but I just needed to vent. I’ve always been the girl who set expectations with guys I allow in my life. They have to be funny, attractive, smart and little bit of dorky. And after a year and five months of no involvement with any guy, I have found him. He’s not “the one” so to speak. But he is the guy I would love to just have fun with. But my thoughts wander off to the point of insecurity and frustration when he doesn’t message me like I message him. To him, I’m probably just another girl. And I get that, I see it. But why do I want more? Realistically, we’re not a perfect couple [if we ever were]. We have such different tastes and we see life differently right now. I wish I could let go of these thoughts of insecurities. I know I am attractive enough to find the guy for me who wants me as much as I want him – but part of me isn’t ready for that. And yet, part of me isn’t ready for the fling I have going right now. Here I am again alone in my thoughts just going back and forth to what I really want. I wish everything in life just fell perfectly for me. Enough with these thoughts already…

Good girl, gone bad

Generally speaking, I’ve always been a “good girl”. I don’t even recall a time where I pushed or tested my parents’ limits such that they lost full control of disciplining me. There were obviously times where I yelled back at my parents when they were completely unreasonable. But at the end of the day, I listened to what they had to say and gave in.

But somehow, I remember a definitive point in my life where my rebellious stage kicked in. I was visiting my aunt (mom’s sister) in Sydney, Australia for the first time when I was 12 years old. My mom and aunt looked so much alike, but they were very two different people. My aunt was young and hip. My mom, on the other hand, was, and still is, conservative and traditional. I was shopping with my aunt at a department store and she pulled out the shortest denim booty shorts ever and forced me to go try them on. I was embarassed and shy. But I couldn’t be rude to her and say no. I got into the changeroom, threw on the shorts, and felt nervous, exposed, and shaken. I opened the door and my aunt’s jaw drops. The next thing I know, she spanks my butt and admires how cute these daisy duke shorts make my booty stand out. I smiled nervously back to her and told her “My mom would kill me if she saw me wear this” but my aunt didn’t hear a single word of it. All she did was asked if she could buy it for me as a gift from her. I kindly said no knowing what my mom would think. But just the concept of exposure of those short shorts made me feel different, like I was deviating from the norm and taking risks. Who’d knew that a pair of short shorts would symbolize something in my life?

I was still a good girl even after this event. My style was conservative; I wore no make up; I never did my hair – or even knew how to; I was just plain Jane even well into most of university. Towards the end of university, things started to change faster than I could even keep up.

I ended my three year relationship because I couldn’t grasp the idea of settling into a serious relationship in my 20s. I felt I played it safe all my life and I couldn’t live not knowing what it would be like to meet new people and expose myself to new and exciting things in life. I didn’t know what these things were, but I just knew that that long-term relationship was not fit for where I saw myself at this stage in life.

As soon as that relationship ended, I opened up a lot to new people and became friends with many. Then I did the unthinkable. I had my first hookup. The guy involved was a good friend of mine for months prior to the event. There was always the intention and attraction, so it was really just a matter of time. But I couldn’t believe I did what I did. My friends didn’t either. But what I did I had no regrets.

It lasted for three months until I started to have feelings for him that he did not share. So I had to end our “friendship”. It hurts me then, and it sometimes still hurts me now. But for the most part, I moved on.

As it stands now, work has consumed my life. I rarely am able to see my friends and family because of the amount of commitment and hours that are involved in the nature of my mundane job. I felt like I wasn’t taking any risks and there was no longer any excitement in my life. As I began to lose sight as to why I was here, I wanted to feel something again.

Three weeks ago, I went to my first rave. I was nervous, yet excited. I knew the risks of exposing myself to such an environment would require some caution. Let’s face it, it’s obvious the “illegal activities” that go around in raves. But from the moment I got there, I was excited. Dark rooms, laser-type lights, insane dance beats, I just felt like I was on a high without any drugs or alcohol. My mind, body and soul was hypnotized by the dance music and I let it take over me. I began to feel again.

Since then, I’ve been pushing my own limits to feel more and more and it’s taken over me this past week. It was 10PM last Monday and my friend and I were the very few last people in the office still working. He says to me “I need a drink.” and I responded “Let’s do it”. My friend was like “Seriously!?” And I wanted to say the same thing to myself. Did I really just agree to drinking on a Monday night knowing we had work the next day? The next thing you know, we eventually found a cute Irish Bar just five minutes from our office. What ended up supposed to be one drink, ended up with several more drinks. We talked about life like we were 50 and wise and stayed up until 2AM. I had to wake up four hours later to get ready for work. It was insane but I had so much fun.

I’ve just been driving myself down this road and I don’t know where it’s taking me but it’s almost like an addiction. I don’t know if I can stop but I know there has to be a limit to these things or else consequences will follow. I am a little concerned at the state I’m in but I feel as though my career right now is limiting to what I really am passionate about. So I compensate the emptiness by wanting to feel, do, experience something different every time. Have I really lost control or am I overreacting?

Here and Now

As I think back to how I came down this road, it almost feels like I never really defined my own path. I guess it’s only fair to bring you into my shoes of how I came to be where I am today:

I was Grade 10 and I had:

  • no sense of style (I only changed my shoes once a year, until university)
  • no make up (I wore this blue eyeshadow that my best friend made fun of me for wearing back in Grade 8 and that tease haunted me then… and now)
  • nothing that made me stand out from the crowd

I wasn’t smart at all either. I took Grade 11 biology class thinking I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I don’t know why I chose this path but it must be some Asian-genetic thing where you naturally feel an obligation to become one. That path was cut short after I was caught copying off lab assignments from a friend in the library by the librarian who just so happens to also be my biology teacher. Not only did she take away my assignment, but she humiliated me in front of the class citing that cheating is never right. And it never is. I deserve what I got. In the end, I ended up barely passing that course and crying to my biology teacher that my “career as a doctor” was ruined. Her response:

“I think you should be in business. You’re talkative”

My response: Do I really have a choice?

Grade 11 came around and evidently enough, all my electives were business-related. My parents weren’t happy but I knew what was best for me at the time. Of all the business electives I had, accounting came naturally to me. I was so good at it that I strived to work at the bank behind the counters and dealing with customers bank accounts. At least that’s what I thought the dream was. But the dream was actually bigger. The dream was to be a Chartered Accountant (US: CPA equivalent). I didn’t know what that entailed until a guest speaker came into our accounting class and discussed the fame and the fortune. Of course, naive teens fall for anything that can bring them “fame and fortune.”

By the time I arrived in university, being a professional accountant for one of the big four accounting firms was a bigger dream to a lot of people in my business program. So here I was back again, following that cycle of running with the masses striving to be what everyone else wants to be. Unlike high school, I was different in university. I knew I had something that made me stand out from the rest of my competition: my social skills.

I wasn’t the best public speaker, presenter, or anything of that sort. But I know how to connect to people. As much as accounting required you to be competent and knowledgable, you had to be just as social – if not more. And that’s what I had. So with that said, I among 50 other candidates out of thousands of applicants, landed a summer internship with one of the largest accounting firms. It was a celebratory moment.

My summer internship was fun. To be honest, I felt like half the time we were fooling around and not actually working. But in the end, I did enough to impress because I eventually received a full-time offer. And here I am now:

  • more style
  • more make up, and
  • a career that many envies, especially those who don’t even have real jobs to this day

My parents were even proud of me. It took them awhile to understand what the heck my job was – but they were happy. And I was happy because they were happy.

Once work started, days became weeks, and weeks became months. I continued to lose sight as to why I am here. Is it possible to progressively lose faith in a career that I dreamed of having since Grade 11? After all the time and money that has been invested into already? And did I really define this path? Or was this path defined for me because it was safe?

This is where I am now in life. Can you relate?