Words

Words can kill because they are so powerful. They can make or break a soul. Say the wrong things and it can change a life forever. No amount of apologies can make up for the hurt that was caused. What’s been said has already been done and is something you’ll never be able to take back.

There’s been many times in my life where I could have died because of words that were being said, or even by words that I longed to hear but never heard. I’ve been taunted and kicked down to a point where I couldn’t go a day without questioning my very existence and whether I had any worth at all. My silent yearn for words of love and affection were nowhere to be found and it led me to believe that it didn’t exist. I simply couldn’t see what I had… and I didn’t have the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to value life or myself as a human being.

Believe it or not, words is one of the strongest weapon there is. While physical pain can heal within time, the emotional hurt never goes away… you just learn to forgive, but never able to fully forget.

Choose your words wisely and be kind to those around you… because you just never know whose life you’re changing.

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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.

My growing up

Let’s all take a step back and think about elementary school. You know during recess, there’s always those kids that are alone swinging on the swings by themselves or sitting under the bleachers counting rocks by themselves? That was me. I couldn’t quite explain why it was that way, but right when I was old enough to grab onto the concept on life, I knew I was different.

The moment I knew I was different was the moment when I was shoved to the ground at 5 years old. It seemed like it was just yesterday when two girls I barely knew, one White-American girl and a Cambodian girl, waited for me every day after school. I was in kindergarten and they were at least in the 1st or 2nd grade. After class, I would walk to the office to wait for my older siblings to pick me up after they finished patrolling for the school. One day, the girls noticed me sitting all alone in a chair. I sat quietly and nervously picked at my nails. They introduced themselves to me as Kimberly and Soda. At first, they were nice to me and asked me to play with them but I was too shy to respond. Instead, I looked down at my feet and shook my head no. I didn’t grow up with many friends or people my age to play with and because of this I had trouble interacting with others. The girls made my life a living hell after that. They started calling me names such as “gook” and “chink.” They made funny faces at me and even made slanted eyes with their fingers. They even went so far to take a marker and draw a large mole on their face in mockery of my distinctive beauty mark I have over the right side of my upper lip. I never once uttered a word. Instead, I endured it all for the sake of what my mother taught me: no matter how bad people treat you, you must not do the same back. The innocent little girl in me did not know any better but to trust that goodness overcomes everything. At least that was what I believed then.

It was picture day in 4th grade. I got up extra early that day to dress myself up. I thought to myself that I wanted to be extra pretty and perhaps, the boy that I liked would notice me. I picked out a black velvet dress to wear, curled my hair, wore a silver choker with a pink butterfly on the front, slipped on my favorite white dress shoes, and went to school. Right when I stepped into the bus, a few people stared at me. I figured it’s normal for people to stare, so I sat down without caring. I even thought to myself that I didn’t care and I really didn’t. I didn’t care until I stepped in my 4th grade classroom and the class bully had to look at me only to point and laugh. “Where’s your glasses today, Four-eyes?!” “You look so fat in that dress!” I stood there for a moment, wondering whether I should take action or ignore him. I saw myself as a coward back then, for I chose to do nothing. Instead, I sat down, turned away from him, and ignored his awful greeting. At moments like this, I often wondered: what happened to all of the nice kids that would help share their sandwiches with you, knowing that you starved during lunch time because people picked on you about your weight? I realized then that they didn’t exist in reality as much as they did in books. Books became my best friend.

The little girl in me that believed that goodness will overcome everything suddenly had a different perspective on things. I felt my heart darken and my peace broken. At this point, I reminded myself daily that “I was different.” I no longer wanted to associate with the outside world or to trust in another human being. Instead, I felt safe at home in my room. That was where I spent most of my life; in my room.. in silence.

The day of “Love”

I want to start this post by wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day. Know that you are loved even if it may not be in the way that you dream of or wish for. Any kind of love whether it is big or small is worth celebrating. Some may say that we don’t have to wait until this specific day to celebrate love, which I agree, but it doesn’t hurt to go an extra mile to make this a special day. Whether it’s on this particular day or any other day,  it is a wonderful reminder of the love we have in us that we tend to forget due to our busy lives.

As a little girl, I used to dream of a life in the movies where I would wake up and be saved by my knight in shining armor. I came up with many scenarios such as a long lost prince that I was fated to be with or perhaps someone from a past life that I just so happened to cross paths with again. I admit that I was obsessive with the idea of love. My way of feeling complete was to live in a fantasy world I built for myself, and for so many years I couldn’t differentiate fantasy with reality.

As I continue to grow, I realize that I don’t need saving. I don’t need to have a destiny with anyone. I don’t need anyone to love me because I have love in me all along and it shows in the love I give to others. The love we give is a reflection of the love we have for ourselves. Love doesn’t have to be with a person. It can be with the things we love to do, the places we love to visit, and in the people that surround us whether it’s close friends and family or strangers who adore you from afar.

Although love is something that completes us in many ways and it is something that many of us yearn for, it doesn’t have to be like how it is in the movies. So, if you’re reading this and you’re someone who is sad about not having someone to love, know that you don’t need a person to feel loved. You ARE love.

2017..

As the days get closer to the new year, I made a promise to try as many new things that I possibly can, including things that may scare me. This commitment is not only for 2017, but it is a commitment that I am going to make for the rest of my life.

The reason for this is because I’ve been living my life with the same day-to-day routine out of comfort. I was comfortable not knowing the unknown. I was comfortable with shutting the rest of the world out. I was comfortable being able to predict my days. Comfort was the ultimate thing that I held onto for so long…. but it is time to change my pattern. It is time for me to challenge myself in ways that I’ve never done before, to get out of my comfort zone, and to see as many new things and meet as many people that I can.

My new years resolution is to be who I want to be without any apologies. I will no longer apologize for my mistakes that I have made in the past or even for the mistakes that I will probably make in the future. I will no longer apologize for exploring the world and for keeping my options open. I will no longer apologize for being a socialite despite what people say or think. I will no longer apologize for being myself, and I refuse to hide or deprive myself of who I truly am. I will no longer apologize for the hurtful words that people say about me because it is not a reflection of who I am, but a reflection of who they are. I will not apologize for severing ties with anyone who brings nothing but negativity and hate in my life. I will not apologize for surrounding myself with inspiring, beautiful, and strong individuals. I will not apologize for having confidence in myself. And I will not apologize for loving myself.

There are many amazing things that are coming up that I wish I can tell the world now, but I have to remain patient and keep it a secret until when the time is right. All I can say is, I am excited for what’s to come and I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunities that are waiting for me. This is definitely the time to shine, not just for me but for you too.

Family

They are the people that are quick to call you out when you are wrong. They are the people that are brave enough to tell you what you don’t want to hear. They are the people that can cut you deep like a knife with their words and with their actions. They are the people that can make you learn the definition of hate. They are the people that can impact the way you see life and how you feel about people.

Family can be filled with many imperfections and may lack certain things, but we can’t deny that they are the main foundation as to what makes us who we are.

We also can’t deny, that they are the people that still love you when you’re at your worst even if it’s sometimes hard to see. They are the people that have seen us go through various stages of our lives. They are the people that knew us before everyone else. They are the people that you continue to make your mistakes with, and with time they welcome you back with open arms. They are the people that will support you even if it’s from a distance or in silence. They are the people that will always push you to do better, and they will continue to push until you’re at your fullest potential. They are your eyes and ears when you can’t see or hear.

They are the people that we don’t get to choose, but they are the people that we will have ties with forever. And sadly, they are the people that most of us continue to take for granted.

In the end, you realize that they are the people that you can’t EVER live without. You eventually learn to accept that not only are you human, but they are too.

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.