Life of a “perfectionist”

As I complete the last few hours of my 8 hour shift at my office job, I finally submitted what would be my last paper for the semester. I have to say that I can finally breathe… at least for now. This academic year honestly has not been my best. I experienced constant highs and lows, and right when I thought I couldn’t take anymore jabs…. things continued to happen. I feel nothing but relief right now though because I can finally say the worse is over and I am still standing.

During my fall semester, I had to drop a class and I barely passed my other classes. This put me on academic probation for the spring. I continued to push myself harder even though I felt so unsure of myself. I clearly didn’t learn because I took on a lot more than I could handle. I was accepted to compete for Miss Minnesota USA. If that wasn’t enough, I picked up a second job as a bartender on top of pageant training, full-time school, internship, and volunteer work. I was so incredibly drained. I was constantly in and out of sickness and eventually ended up having to drive myself to the emergency room during finals week.

Then one of my worse fears came true.. I received news that I failed a course for the semester. Call me dramatic, but it seriously felt like my world ended. I thought to myself, “What the hell did I get myself into?” “What is going to happen now?” Then it finally clicked in my head that I was working so hard, too hard, that I lost myself in the process. I realized that I was trying to prove people wrong that I forgot all about me.

I call this the life of a “perfectionist.” A life where people are always expecting so much out of you. If you succeed in one thing, there’s another thing you must achieve. And then if you make one simple mistake, you’re seen as a failure for the rest of your life. It feels like there’s never a time where enough is enough because there is still so much more that you need to do… and you can’t and won’t stop until everything is accomplished. It can honestly drive you insane, like how it has done to me.

In truth, there is no such thing as “perfection.” I relearned that today.

I believe that there will be things you’ll fail at in life, but that doesn’t make you a failure. If anything, knowing that you tried makes you a winner in your life.

As for that failed course, don’t worry…. that professor will definitely see me again and I will pass the next time around. Until then, I will keep reminding myself to not be so hard on myself… and so should you.

Who am I?

It’s normal to feel lost. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling lost my whole life. You would think that at age 25, you would have experienced enough to have the answers to everything. Truth is, 25 is still an extremely young age. This whole time I kept thinking that by age 25, I should have my bachelors. I should have my dream career. I should have my own place. I should have my own car. I should have a serious relationship by now. I should have my life together because time was “running out.” I’m not sure where I got all of these thoughts from, but I now understand that I was basing my life off of society and others’ opinions.

I have to remind myself that although I don’t have my bachelors yet, I have a year left before I graduate. Even though I’m no where close to where I want to be when it comes to my dream career, I am at least a step closer than I was yesterday. Even though I still live with my parents at home and drive my mom’s car, at least I have supportive parents that would do anything in their power to help me succeed. Even though I’m still single, at least I can take this time now to really focus on myself and to become the woman that I’ve always dreamed of.

After going through series of unhealthy relationships, I found that the main reason for them failing was because I didn’t know who I was. I only knew myself as their girlfriend, as their lover, as their caretaker, and as their provider. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself “who am I” during those times and all I could say was my significant other’s name. Truth is, having a strong sense of identity plays a role in everything whether it’s a relationship, career, and anything else that you can imagine. Without it, it is hard to nurture what you love and care for.

This reminds me of back in August when I attended a Hmong Women Empowerment retreat. We did an exercise where we partnered up with someone random. One person would ask the other person “who are you” while the other person would state everything that they are. It could be anything from where you’re from, what you define yourself as, what you like to eat, what hobbies/interests you’re into, so on. If the person answering couldn’t answer anymore, the person asking the question will repeatedly ask the same question until the time ran out.

Today I decided to take the time to re-do this exercise and I’ve come up with more things. If you ask who I am, my answers are:

I am a Hmong-American woman that wants to make a change in how our Hmong women and girls are viewed in society.

I am a Hmong-American woman that wants to uplift all of my Hmong women and girls by helping them succeed and reach their fullest potential.

I am a daughter who isn’t perfect and I don’t always make the best decisions, but I am a daughter that my parents trust wholeheartedly. Someday, I’ll be the one to take care of them.

I am the sister that will fight alongside my siblings and protect them with everything I have even if they don’t do it for me.

I am the loyal friend that will stick by your side through everything that you do — good or bad — because I will always believe and see the best in you.

I am a lover that loves too hard and too deep, but with the purest intentions.

I am a student at UW-River Falls majoring in Marketing Communications and minoring in International Studies. I hope to further my education and get my masters.

I am a survivor of depression, suicide, and domestic violence.

I am loved by many, and I love every single one of them because I have SO MUCH LOVE TO GIVE. Love is limitless.

I am strong because I always find a way to turn my life back around… even if it takes me a little more time.

I am beautiful even with the scars that I carry on my body. Every scar tells a powerful story that I want to someday share with the rest of the world.

I am the unspoken truth.

I am me….. Gloria Yang.

Netherlands

Today Hans took us to The Kroller-Muller Museum. While we were there, I developed an interest in Charley Toroop. Her artworks are solely based on portraits of women. One particular artwork that I absolutely loved was her portrait of Medusa. She painted the scene of Medusa when she was beheaded. Many Greek mythologies explained that the moment she was beheaded was a moment of a peaceful rebirth. Medusa is known as the archetype of the angry mother. Her story is that she was the most beautiful goddess there was and she was also the only mortal. Unfortunately her beauty and power held a price. It was said that Medusa and her sisters served as priestesses to Athena, the Virgin goddess of wisdom, but Poseidon, the sea God, forced himself on Medusa inside of Athena’s temple and impregnated her. Medusa tried to plea her innocence, but to no avail Athena punished her by turning her into the monster that she is known for today. It was then that Medusa grew spiteful about men. Her bitterness and resentment isolated her from others and anyone who dared to look at her were petrified and turned into stone. This Greek mythology intrigues me because of my own personal experience, as well as my cultural upbringing. This makes me really question society about the fairness between two genders. Times clearly have changed, and I hope it keeps improving. I’m also wondering if this was how Charley Toroop felt when she painted this portrait. Was she also upset about the unfairness between men and women? Not to also mention that men were rarely featured in her artwork. The symbols in her paintings gives off the message that she was a proud feminist, which I am too.

England

I used to hate being alone, but being over here has made me appreciate it so much more. I realize that it is when you’re alone that you tend to learn so much more about yourself. Rather than beating myself up like I usually do, I have learned to love myself more by valuing my personal space. This brings me closer to achieving “wholeness.” In our arts and ideas class, we analyzed key concepts by Carl Jung. I have to admit that these concepts are extremely hard for me to understand (I had to go out of my way to do more research online and I still am confused on a lot of the concepts). Nonetheless, the concepts that grabbed my utmost attention were “individuation” and “wholeness.” I feel that those two have the most relevance at this point in my life. I am trying to find harmony so that I can achieve both. I am still in the process of developing my individuality as a person, as well as finding a wholeness within my inner self. I used to search for myself through others, but this is the first time that I haven’t done that. Instead, I am learning to embrace the fact that not all persons are the same, but that doesn’t mean that one is less than the other. There is so much more of me that I haven’t discovered yet. As long as I continue moving forward, I’ll trust that life will take me where I need to go. Everything will fall into place, eventually.

Scotland pt. 2

Today we visited the Scottish National Gallery. It was truly a beautiful sight to see. Before this, I was never a museum person. In a way, I’m still not but I am willing to be open minded. As I looked at all of the artwork with great fascination, I couldn’t seem to find a connection to anything. Possibly because I don’t have a religion myself, so I couldn’t relate to all of the religious meanings. The most common religion that these artworks displayed was Christianity. One concept that I found to be extremely common in the arts was the opposites of good and evil. The whole concept between the two have always intrigued me, but the religious artwork forces me to analyze deeper. The angels are always seen as a sign of hope, of a greater escape. Or perhaps is it a way of asking for forgiveness and starting over new? Now that I think about it, perhaps I do share a connection with it unconsciously. Throughout my life, I battled endlessly with evil. Unfortunately, I have let evil consume me many times and in many ways. It has made me yearn for love and acceptance in all of the wrong places. This has made me do things that I wasn’t proud of. I may have prayed a few times hoping someone or something will save me, but no such thing happened. However, the people in the paintings always had a peaceful aura around them. Even if there was death or pain, there was always someone somewhere that represented a guardian angel of some kind. It is almost as if it is speaking to me and letting me know not to give up my faith. Even if I can’t physically see a guardian angel, maybe it is watching over me.

Scotland

Studying abroad is a significant moment for me because all of my life I was taught that women, especially Asian women, had no purpose other than being a mother and a wife. I am here to prove that stereotype wrong. So far, I have learned that it’s okay to speak our minds as long as our privilege of free speech isn’t abused or disruptive. I had a traumatic moment in class tonight because of the discussion we had. Our professor read us a story in which we had to ask him yes or no questions to figure out what it is that this boy did in his high school that had him sent home by the principal. We eventually found out that what the boy did was wear a shirt that said “straight pride” to school because he felt that if the school allowed gay, lesbian, and transgender people to have a special room and to be able to wear “gay pride” t shirts, he should be able to also. Hearing what others had to say in class stirred up something in me that I have never felt before in a class setting. Majority of the class were in favor of the boy for wearing the shirt because they felt that it was his right to wear what he wanted and that all students should be given the same rights. If you know where I come from, I am part of the minority. Where I grew up, women, especially Asian women, had less rights than others. We were taught to be silent. We only spoke when we were spoken to and even then we had to choose our words carefully. However, I broke that barrier tonight. For the first time, I spoke up in class and expressed how I felt without holding anything back. Many don’t understand how privileged it is to be white, especially a white male. To wear a shirt that says “straight pride” is no different than saying “male pride” or “white pride.” These special clubs in school are only designed as a support group for students who felt that they have no voice, or no existence in society. It is a safe room for those that are different. If any other student (straight or not) wanted to go in and give their support, they are welcome to do so. Therefore, no students are unwelcomed in these special clubs. They are simply there to educate others on social discrimination and sexual orientation. However, wearing a shirt that says “straight pride” is demeaning to others and it is a way of showing superior motives. I feel that the principal did the right thing by sending him home because it would stir up controversy and become a problem in the school. Anything that disrupts learning or potentially harm other students should be terminated. There was a student in class who debated with me over the shirt. Immediately, I felt ganged up on and humiliated. After class, I broke down. I wasn’t sure if it was my insecurities of being the minority, the feeling of being misunderstood, the guilt for speaking up, or all of it at once, but I was proud of myself for finally speaking my mind.

As one of my favorite fashion icon said:

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel