Being a mom is the greatest blessing in the world, but as a young single mom at 21 I found myself putting my dreams on hold, often working two back-to-back jobs to make ends meet. It didn’t help that as a person living inside her head for decades I had to separate my own demons from the raising of my child. When you grow up within the confines of a dysfunctional family structure and at 21 hadn’t yet learned how to take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions, there is something that whispers to you that says, “whatever is going on inside, you have a responsibility for protecting your child.” There was no bargaining – I knew that I had to be the best mom I knew how to be. What I didn’t realize is that my son, and his mere existence, was really MY protector.
The internal struggles never stopped but I hid it well. I had alter egos cover for me. I learned to hide behind the façade of a happy person and how to act the part of any role I had to play. The only times I was truly happy was in the role of mom.
Years later, when my son entered junior high I began to dabble in theatre, something I’d begun as a young child until I followed my mother’s footsteps and married at 19. (That was an entirely different generation, where opportunities for women were scarce and culture played a part. Whereas the females were expected to marry young and become secretaries, the males were encouraged to continue on to college.) Getting out there, getting my feet wet, auditioning, doing readings, and taking acting/speech/voice lessons were a means of escaping the hell cell in which I still allowed myself to be imprisoned. After awhile, when I came to accept that jobs for Asian actors were few and far between, I opted to become an entrepreneur in my 30’s and float away from my love of acting. I began to view it as superficial, which in hindsight was just another excuse for not following through… and quitting on things before they had a chance to blossom.
While I was having fun finding myself, my son was growing up into an amazing young man. To say he was my pride and joy is an understatement. People were always coming up to me to congratulate me on having such an amazing, polite, thoughtful, respectful, charming, talented son. For once I had done something right. For once a dream of mine came true!
Aside from that, I lacked passion for all else.
I knew that I did not want to go back to corporate America full time because I had always resisted working for someone else. Something in the idea went against my psyche and messed with my free-spiritedness. In fact, I’m sure I seemed flighty to everyone who knew me, and knowing that did little to boost my esteem. If I felt judged I turned around and judged myself even more. Sure, there were glimpses of hope – even brilliance, for when I resolved to be great at something, or when I declared a job or a gig to be mine and claimed it with passion and zest. But those moments were short-lived until my insecurities kicked in again. I felt undeserving and afraid of everything – of being judged, of being the caged “me” I never had a chance to meet, of being alone with my thoughts, and fear love, happiness, success, and even fear itself. To walk into a room full of intelligent people was a fear worse than death.
As for that free-spiritedness? I recognize now the years of living within fostered a profound lust of freedom. It infiltrates even my personal life, which is why I love to fly planes. Flying planes, like entrepreneurship, is a metaphor for freedom and there is no feeling in the world quite like it. Still, it had it’s time and place….
After roller coaster years of teeter-tottering from opportunity to opportunity, returning always to self-sabotage, I finally realized that it wasn’t my outside life – or even my habits – that caused this turmoil. It wasn’t the work that needed me – it was me who needed the work. And I had gotten to the point of being tired of being a shell instead of just “being”. That’s when it happened…
Today I live an abundant and fulfilling life, with gratitude leading the way, peace grounding me, and the breath of life keeping me company throughout the day. I can’t be anything BUT happy, knowing that I am doing what I love, loving what I do, and making a difference. Like a wheel whose spokes have melted away leaving only the shiny metal gleaming, my life has come full circle, leaving only memories of good experiences. But here’s the best part. Just when you learn to leave your past behind, your present comes chasing you. Today I not only get to help celebrities, entrepreneurs and small business owners communicate, connect, and create a platform to position and leverage themselves to shine as leaders in their industry, I added a public speaking performance dynamics training borrowing from principles of acting. That’s full circle.
If you truly teach what you know, let me just say I know a LOT about communicating, connecting and creating. I just do it on the outside now.
And I thank God that my son has turned out to be the most level-headed, well-adjusted person I know. With a healthy self-esteem, he is super talented and damn smart. It’s an amazing feeling when you can say that your child is not only smarter than you, he is living life out loud and living his dream.