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This is the time

So, I came to realize that I have been trapped in my thought of “I can’t enjoy life yet”. I’m not there yet. I need to achieve more. I need to make more money and have more money saved. I need to “be more” to enjoy what I want to enjoy.

Another train of thoughts that I was trapped in goes like this: I’m not good enough to share my experience and voice telling myself “who do you think you are?”. I need to “be more” to do that. I am too insignificant to have my own voice. I need to stay quiet and give space to others for them to shine, you know, those who are mega successful, who have achieved way more.

The book I recently read, Like She Owns The Place by Cara Alwill Leyba, helped me realize that I’d better think differently. I already have enough experience, both work and life, to share. I already have my own voice that I can use to communicate with others.

Where has my insecurity been coming from? The pressure to be “perfect” and “likeable” from the society, peers, families, and let’s not forget to mention the biggest source of the pressure - myself. The experience being bullied for being “too authentic”, “too different”, or “too ambitious”. The subtle and not-so-subtle acts of exclusion and racism I’ve been burned by. The fear of being ridiculed.

I have been buried myself in my insecurity. I have run away from the big dreams and goals of mine. I’m tired of being stuck in the giant hole I have dug. I’m taking intentional actions to get myself out of the hole. The first intentional action I’m taking is sharing my experience, thoughts, and voice despite the various sources of fear and hesitation mentioned above. This is my first action because my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is publishing books. actively writing and sharing my experience is the very first step I can and should take to get closer to achieving it. By the way, the term BHAG is from Built to Last, a book by Jim Collins. A great book on how to build companies that last. Visit Jim’s website here to read a quick summary of the concept.

Back to my realization that I have been telling myself I don’t deserve to enjoy life yet and that I need to think differently - I’m taking several mindful actions to be nice to myself. Here are some of those actions: I take a proper lunch break to eat something healthy. I give myself time in the morning, even if it is just a 5- minute chunk some days, to work out. I allow myself to spend more money at a restaurant with healthy options as opposed to going with the inexpensive alternatives. I allocate enough budget on travelling (thank goodness we can travel again, right?) because I really enjoy it. I allow myself to purchase as many books as I want because books are my happy place.

Ever since I graduated high school, I have been working nonstop for the last 20 years. From an unpaid internship to gain experience to get my career started, to a minimum-wage retail job to pay the bills, to a job with an absolutely horrible boss, to a job that I truly love. I worked throughout my academic career too. I worked for a few different companies for free during my undergraduate program to get my feet wet - by the way, I’ve never hired any student interns for free and will never do so no matter how inexperienced they are. I worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant when I was pursuing my first master’s degree. I worked full time during the three year part time MBA program which I completed back in 2019.

It is so easy, at least to me, to keep beating myself for not doing more, not having achieved more. Reflecting what I did achieve so far and patting myself on the back don’t come natural to me. What is natural to me is feeling pressured to do more and keep going at a full speed with a mindset of “a break is luxury I can’t afford”. To give myself a break from this pressure, I started thinking about what I would say to my sisters, daughters, and friends if they have achieved what I have achieved. We tend to be more generous and kind to others than to ourself. Next time you are about to beat yourself up for not doing enough, take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and think how you would respond if it was someone else in front of you. The words in your head might be warmer and more genuine.

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