Life is a canvas, and we are the artists, shaping our destinies with every brushstroke. My immigrant journey, from the bustling streets of Vietnam to the diverse and vibrant city of London, has been a testament to the transformative power of self-discovery, learning, and growth. It’s a journey of stepping out of comfort zones, embracing the unknown, and sculpting a masterpiece of self.
1. Venturing beyond comfort zones
At 17, I found myself in London, a world away from Vietnam, with life in London unfolding like a series of blank pages waiting to be filled. The bustling streets, the myriad of cultures, and the sheer vastness of opportunities were both exhilarating and daunting. While many around me delved into the world of banking and finance, my heart leaned towards psychology and creativity. Without a clear plan, I embraced the uncertainty of my immigrant journey, securing a job and allowing life to unfold, one day at a time.
But I didn’t stop there. I believed in the mantra of “higher risk, higher rewards.” I threw myself into every aspect of life in London, pushing my boundaries further than I ever imagined. I took up new sports, challenging my physical limits and learning the value of discipline and teamwork. I dabbled in hobbies that were entirely foreign to me, like Improv, which not only honed my creativity but also improved my spontaneity and ability to think on my feet.
Every risk I took, every new hobby I picked up, and every mentor I reached out to was a step out of my comfort zone. But with each step, I reaped rewards that were manifold. The experiences enriched my life, broadened my horizons, and instilled a sense of confidence and self-belief that I could not only survive but thrive in this new land.
2. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery
The journey wasn’t without its challenges. My mid-20s were a tumultuous period, marked by mediocre jobs, undefined relationships, and daily emotional battles. As a Vietnamese immigrant, I faced unique challenges that tested my resilience. It was a wake-up call, a realisation that transformation was imperative.
During this period of introspection, I stumbled upon Taoism. Its teachings resonated deeply with me, especially the concept of being in the moment. By practising Taoist principles, I learned to be present, to let go of past regrets and future anxieties. This newfound philosophy significantly alleviated my anxiety, allowing me to find peace amidst the chaos of life in London.
In my quest for self-understanding, I also delved into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Discovering that I was an INFJ – a rare personality type known for its empathy, intuition, and idealism – was enlightening. Recognising and honouring these traits allowed me to understand myself better and navigate the world with a renewed sense of purpose.
However, self-discovery also meant pushing boundaries. I ventured into territories that were unfamiliar, sometimes realising that certain paths weren’t meant for me. These experiences, though challenging, were invaluable. They helped me discern my core values and realign my life in a direction that was more authentic to who I truly was.
3. Cultivating self-discipline, self-trust, and self-love
Transformation required more than just a change in mindset; it demanded action. One of the most pivotal actions I took was making promises to myself. These weren’t just empty words or fleeting thoughts; they were commitments. And with every promise I made, I delivered. Whether it was a promise to wake up early, to complete a task, or to take a day off for self-care, I ensured that I kept my word to myself. This consistent delivery built a foundation of self-trust. Over time, I became confident in my ability to make judgements and decisions. The fear of the unknown diminished, replaced by a steadfast belief that no matter the challenge, I would be there for myself, every step of the way.
This unwavering self-trust instilled in me a newfound confidence. I believed that I would carve out a niche for myself, ensuring a promising future. The anxiety of the ‘what ifs’ was replaced by the certainty of ‘I will.’ I knew that my future would be okay, not because of external assurances, but because I trusted myself to navigate any challenge that came my way.
As for self-discipline, it wasn’t something that I acquired overnight. It was a skill honed over time, cultivated through consistent effort and practice. Setting clear goals, creating structured routines, and holding myself accountable were key. I also learned the importance of setting boundaries, both with others and with myself. This meant prioritising tasks, saying ‘no’ when necessary, and ensuring that I allocated time for both work and relaxation. Over time, these practices became habits, and self-discipline became an integral part of my daily life.
4. Becoming my own best friend
In this transformative journey, becoming my own best friend was more than just a metaphor; it was a conscious practice. One of the most impactful exercises I undertook was writing emails to myself using a website called futureme.org. This platform allowed me to send messages to my future self, providing a unique opportunity to communicate hopes, dreams, and words of encouragement. The act of writing these emails made me perceive myself as a separate individual, deserving of love and kindness. Over time, this practice instilled in me a habit of using loving and positive words towards myself.
However, like any journey, there were moments of slip-ups. There were times when I caught myself using negative words or entertaining self-deprecating thoughts. But, thanks to the foundation of self-love I had built, I became acutely aware of these moments. Instead of spiralling into negativity, I would consciously redirect my thoughts, replacing them with affirmations and positive self-talk.
This consistent practice of self-compassion and positivity had a profound impact on my well-being. I learned to treat myself with the same kindness and understanding that I would offer to a dear friend. Over time, this not only bolstered my self-esteem but also deepened my connection with myself, solidifying the belief that I was, indeed, my own best friend.
5. Capitalising on personal assets
The journey of self-discovery and transformation was also about recognising and utilising the assets and opportunities that came my way. Every experience, every connection, and every achievement was a stepping stone to the next level.
Starting with my academic background, I leveraged my degree to secure a position in a reputable corporate firm that offered visa sponsorship. This was a significant milestone, providing me with a stable foundation in London, both professionally and legally.
Once settled in the corporate world, I took advantage of the benefits that came with it. The health insurance provided by my employer became a gateway to therapy, allowing me to address and heal from past traumas and challenges. This therapeutic journey was instrumental in enhancing my mental well-being and overall outlook on life.
Furthermore, the corporate environment was a treasure trove of networks and cultural knowledge. I actively engaged with colleagues and superiors, absorbing invaluable insights about the professional landscape and cultural nuances of life in London. These interactions enriched my understanding and equipped me with the tools to navigate the complexities of the corporate world.
As I continued to grow personally and professionally, I met someone who resonated with my aspirations and values. This individual, who later became my husband, was not just a partner in the conventional sense but also a pillar of support. His encouragement and stability allowed me the freedom to explore new avenues. With his support, I took a hiatus from my corporate job to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams, building a business from the ground up.
This entrepreneurial journey, coupled with my corporate experience, further enhanced my professional portfolio. Not only did I secure an even more prestigious corporate position later on, but I also had the flexibility and resources to chase my dreams, striking a balance between professional commitments and personal passions.
6. Patience, trust, and enjoying the process
Transformation is a journey, not a destination. It requires patience, trust in the process, and the ability to enjoy every step of the journey. Embracing the process with patience and trust leads to harmony and fulfilment, even when the path seems daunting and disheartening.
For anyone reading this, know that every immigrant journey, every challenge faced, and every boundary pushed brings with it lessons and growth. Believe in the process, trust in your abilities, and know that with perseverance, the future holds promise and potential.
Conclusion: The power of resilience and determination
Over the last decade, my life has undergone a transformation, not just in material possessions but also in mental, emotional, and spiritual states. The journey, although fraught with challenges, has led to a state of harmony and a realisation that this is the right path. It is a testament to the power of stepping out of one’s comfort zone, self-discovery, self-discipline, self-love, capitalising on one’s assets, and having patience and trust in the process.
The journey of transformation is indeed a beautiful and rewarding process, a journey to becoming the best version of oneself. Remember, transformation is a journey. It requires hard work, patience, and an open mind. It might be scary, and you might feel lonely at times, but the work is vital. Surround yourself with role models, invest in learning and self-improvement, and embrace a wholesome lifestyle. Trust your judgement, have a low tolerance for nonsense, and move on ruthlessly from relationships that do not serve you. Keep reinforcing your boundaries, believe in having them, and let them guide you to the right people and the right relationships.