If asked “Who are you”, how would you answer?
The 14-year-old me tried to define herself by name, age, and occupation. It was good enough then, but the updated version I made in the past two years was richer.
I have started seeing my self-worth through different dimensions, not just limited to those criteria or my achievements, which is far from the mindset of the majority. Like a fish swimming against the stream, I struggled with self-doubt and insecurity yet found a sense of freedom and relaxation.
Despite being employed and able to earn a good salary, my working motivation disappeared every time I had to immerse myself in a huge workload. At the end of 2020, I was simultaneously coordinating two advertising projects for the Lunar New Year (so-called ‘Tet Holiday’ in Vietnam), which constantly required me to stay up late to complete tasks and reply to clients’ emails. I tried not to ask for my manager’s support because she was pregnant, and about to be on maternity leave.
Soon after that period, I got burned out. My body was against me due to the lack of sleep and the ambiguity regarding my career. It was not the first time I experienced such things but the fourth time within my three initial working years, which is not a good sign. Once again, I faced a difficult choice: to continue, or to stop.
I contacted a sister who I met several years ago to ask for advice. She comforted me and invited me to a women’s circle on January 2021, just before Tet Holiday. I had never been to a similar event previously, so I was excited and nervous at the same time. The event was organised in a small room full of relaxing scents and music, which calmed my mind and soothed my soul immediately from the moment I stepped in. At the centre of the room, I saw a vase of sunflowers and cookies well-prepared on a mat. About ten women were in the circle that day. We shared our stories and did some activities together.
I felt safe and loved among these strangers. They attentively listened to me and made me believe in myself again. In their eyes, I was not an immature girl facing uncertainty in her career path, but a girl with wisdom and compassion. I was accepted even though I was not perfect. From that day, I decided to redefine myself.
I finally quit my job in April 2021. After that, I enrolled in three courses, coordinated three mental health projects, and applied for my postgraduate program in the UK. It was not easy to stay at home for a year and five months straight with no earnings. Although I was fortunate enough to get financial support from my family, I still struggled with negative thoughts. I wondered if I was off track but motivated myself to keep going. In the end, I realised it was times when I was financially unproductive that I truly dedicated myself to personal growth. And I am happy that I have found a better version of myself in such a long break. I do not know how to give a precise answer if someone asks “Who are you”, but I am sure that the answer will not be fixed and will keep changing alongside my development.
We are more than what we think about ourselves. Do not limit yourself to any dimension. Look at yourself honestly to see your potential. Unleash it. And you will be amazed at yourself.
Writer, and creative.