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.

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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.