For the majority of my life, I’d always stayed under someone’s wing — my parents, my grandma, my friends, my ex.
While this has helped me worry less in life and focus more on practical things (e.g. learning at school, staying in good shape, building household skills), it also stopped me from growing up.
I didn’t know how to travel on an airplane by myself.
I had no idea how much my phone bill cost (everything’s on auto-pay).
I didn’t know how to fend for myself if someone blamed me for something I didn’t do wrong.
I couldn’t tell which friend genuinely wanted to help me and which friend wanted to take advantage of me.
But of them all, my greatest concern was not knowing what I wanted in life.
What career did I want as my future source of income? What skills did I want to master? What countries did I want to explore? What hobbies did I want to do to fulfill my day?
Not knowing the answers to these questions scared me. More so than getting lost in a strange, remote place where no one speaks my language.
And I kind of hated myself for becoming this naive, little girl who depended on others for answers. For following the suggestions of those who “knew” how my life should be instead of pursuing what I wanted.
Until two years ago.
Unleashing a new me
What’s your expertise and what can you do that no one else can do for our company?
Content marketing, with a special focus on steering traffic to a company’s website — particularly from Medium. After running dozens of marketing experiments, I know which ones drive the most relevant users to a site and get them engaged with the business. The key? Providing value and building trust. Everything else (e.g. the money, the widespread exposure) comes after.
What do you want to learn?
How to shuffle dance or move like those Kpop stars!.
Chinese — speaking the language, reading off the menus, understanding what people say.
Cooking. I still follow a recipe but want to make unique fusion foods, using just my nose and taste buds to put everything together.
What kind of guy do you want in your life?
I want a guy I can share my life stories with, without being judged or feeling awkward. I want him to appreciate what I’ve given him and not take me for granted. I want him by my side — not in front of me, not behind, but right next to me. That way I can hold his hand and know we’re both facing life together from the same way (the good and the bad). Most importantly, I want him to give me space, so I can pursue my own hobbies and accomplish greater goals.
I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer any of these questions during my post-college years. But now I can.
Because in the last two years, I’ve finally kicked my bad habit of letting people steer my life. Instead of going along with their suggestions, I stick with my own agenda.
That means breaking out of my comfort zone, multiple times (e.g. mingling with strangers, saying “no” to people, exposing myself to a new environment). I admit, it was pretty nerve-racking or embarrassing at times, but gradually, I became more confident in who I was. I knew what I wanted, who mattered to me, and what I needed to do to build the future “me.”
It was all through trying new things that made me learn more about myself than the 10 years I’ve spent following others.
Krav Maga taught me how practical self-defense can be, especially if I get stuck in a sticky situation. To be honest, I think it’s a more useful skill to acquire than to master the gun.
People from Meetups have much more interesting stories to share than all the people I’ve met through dating apps.
Yoga is fun and relaxing, but too slow for my taste. I like activities that pump adrenaline into my blood!
I took my first sip of alcohol when I was 7. I took my first glass at 27. And I still hate the taste.
Mopeds are the most thrilling things you can drive on the road. I only wish things weren’t so far apart in the U.S. so I can drive it everywhere (especially during rush hour).
Now I know why women love getting manicures — it looks good. It feels good. It drives men crazy.
I never knew my hair would actually look good with highlights. I thought plain black was the only color that matched me best.
Airbnb > hotels. It’s cheaper, you feel more at home, and is super convenient — especially if you’re working remotely.
What I’d learned in 3 months from my 9–5 job, I’d learned in 1 at my startup. You get so much hands-on experience working at a startup that you become a much greater asset than average people.
My last words: When sheltered, break out
If you’re feeling comfortable living under the wings of another, break out — NOW. Sure, it’s a more stress-free life, but when you don’t take on life on your own, you won’t ever grow to your greatest potential or discover what you’re capable of being.
Explore more. Do more. Be more.
Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com