Have you ever feel you’re no good at anything?
“You’re just too sensitive!”
“Your English is terrible! Your grammar is so poor!”
These were the comments that stayed in my head as I was growing up. Even though I knew the people who have said those comments to me did not intend to be mean. They simply told me what they saw of me.
I was born in Vietnam at the end of the war, had limited education and minimal resources. I had only seen black and white photos, black and white TV, had no email or internet access. I did not even know what a computer was. It was a world far from our current time – most kids nowadays have an iPad, can access YouTube and see any part of the world at their fingertips.
I didn’t even have plastic dolls or colour pencils. On top of that limited environment, I had extreme motion sickness so I couldn’t get on a bus to go anywhere. I was grounded, literally.
Suddenly, I was ‘teleported’ to Sydney at 15-years-old, without speaking or understanding a word of English.
Everything was overwhelming, different, opposite, literally from the east to west. Imagine you were born in America or England and suddenly moved to China or Vietnam at the age of 15. You had no idea about the culture or language spoken. The things you knew are now suddenly not acceptable. You had never eaten rice or seen how the chopsticks are used. That was how it was for me. Not one thing was familiar. I had no friends, couldn’t speak the language and I was very shy. It was much easier to stop doing anything and just give up. Or I could just recluse to myself.
Yet, one thing kept me going.
And underneath my shy nature, I was extremely curious and I yearned for connections.
Also, it was fascinating to see that people have different eye colours. Some are kind of olive green, some are greyish-green, some are so blue! They look like marbles. I’ve only ever seen black-brown eyes and black hair. How fascinating! I would stare at people’s eyes when I talked to them without realising that staring is rude. The more I stared, the more I wanted to connect and communicate with them. But life is not easy when you can’t communicate and can’t go anywhere.
I had to walk one hour each way to get to the school because I felt too sick to get on the bus. Some rainy days, I would get to the school and my socks and shoes were soaking wet because the umbrella couldn’t block the rain away to keep me dry. Once, a big boy came, stopped me and said: “Give me the money!” I was scared but I wasn’t going to let him scare me. Mum had always taught us:
“Be brave. Stand up for yourself. Do not ever let anyone belittle you.”
With that in mind, I pushed him aside and walked on even though my heart was pounding. I just held my breath and kept walking. That was a self-empowering lesson I learned that day. “I can give him the power or give myself the power.” As scared, and as tough as it was to deal with everything; new environment, new language, and threats, I had much to learn. I needed to be at school.
It took me years to understand myself well and lots of patience and self-love. Especially after having children, it was through the love of teaching my children that I started to learn about gifted education at the University of NSW, learning about nurturing your gifted child, which had led me to understand that having extra emotions was my “gift”. This was a turning point for me. It helped me understood that my sensitivity was what helped me understood children so well all these years. Eventually, I went to America to train as a life coach and became a parenting coach with special interests in gifted education.
Sometimes, it is easy for us to buy into what others say about ourselves and start doubting ourselves. Especially when we are in a vulnerable state or still finding my own way. But getting yourself to a stronger state is where you want to be. From there you can build yourself up. And if you have a dream or if you really want to do something, don’t wait for permission. Give yourself that permission. It would be nice to have other people to back you up but don’t wait or depend on it. Instead of back yourself up and dig deep, deep, within yourself and find the courage. Call on your self-belief, trust yourself, have faith. Find all that you need and just do it!
Do it for yourself and do it for others.