I turn 33 on the 26th of this month.
Usually, my ritual is writing an email to myself that’s scheduled to be delivered on my birthday so I can reflect and see how far I got on goals I set and how I was feeling around this time last year.
But with the rate of change and unpredictability of life in 2020, I decided to switch it up this year with a post instead.
For many years, I struggled with this idea that the best version of myself was based on how hard I worked, how many “projects” I completed, and whether I was learning something new. This all sounds productive and good in theory, but the reality was I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels and getting halfway decent at something, only to stop because I got into my head that what I was doing wasn’t good enough or feeling selfish because I had other responsibilities.
I got it into my head that when you reach a certain age, a certain stage in life, that you can’t be curious, you can’t explore, and you can’t suck at something for awhile — even a lot of us probably sucked at things for a long time until we got better at it.
The pandemic has brought untold chaos, pain and turmoil into so many lives, but it has also showed me the elasticity of time and how a lot of my notions of self have been holding me back just as much as any other force or person.
These notions were developed from a childhood moving from school to school every few months, getting bullied when I didn’t fit in at schools where I was the only POC, and then told I wasn’t Asian enough at schools where I was once again amongst my peers culturally. I seldom checked the box for whatever a model minority was and I found myself existing in-between categories, labels, and groups.
Fast forward to 2020 and the last 10 years since graduating college has shown me that it’s taken me more than one cycle to learn a lesson. On the 3rd or 4th time I fall down or stop short of going all the way with something, I recognize the pattern and then learn to channel into something that can help me heal and then move on.
That’s why I started podcasting a couple of years ago and that’s why I am pushing myself to express myself more openly and more often — because I’m learning that no one is keeping score, no one is waiting to tear me down and out me as an imposter. And even if there was someone that wanted to do that, I’m learning more to tell them to go take a walk and embrace that I am worthy of what I have attained and am empowered to be exactly who I am — no apologies required and no apologies will be given.
This may manifest in more articles and videos, talking about things I’m working on, and whatever else may come up — I’m just figuring it out like I’m sure many of you are too.
If you’ve made it to the bottom of this post, I thank you for your time and I hope that if you’re finding it difficult to reconcile the many dimensions of who you are that you take some of that pressure off of your shoulders. I don’t know if I can honestly say that I love myself the way that books and mantras encourage me to, but I can say as I approach 33 that I certainly like myself a lot more now than I did 10 years ago.