Photo by Angela Fama
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?
I’ve learned through constant self-evaluation that I’m starting to gain a better understanding of who I am but because my surroundings and perspectives of them are ever changing it’s hard to give a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’. As I go through more experiences I have a better understanding of who I’m not shaping way for me to, hopefully, understanding who I am.
WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE?
The uncertainty of not knowing who I am is terrifying and liberating at the same time. Sometimes it can feel like my life lacks direction or focus because there isn’t an obvious path of me to take with my life, whether it be with my relationships, my career, or even with myself. However, because I don’t keep a mental checklist of what my life “needs” all of my options are still options.
I believing learning who you are is the journey, not the destination. I’ve been fortunate in my life to experience great joys and survive traumatic situations that have helped shaped who I am today. I try to keep my sense of self in balance by reminding myself that things happen for me, not to me. The only difference between the things that make me and the things that break me is how I approach them.
WHO ARE YOU?
Because the answer to this seems to be under constant revision, I’ll answer it with the facts and my truths that I hope will always be my truths.
I am the oldest child to my Vietnamese immigrant parents and was raised by my rockstar of a single-mom. My success is her success because she sacrificed everything for me to have the opportunities she never had. Because of her I respect the hustle. Hard work and tenacity are second to none and good things come to those who work for it.
I am independent in the sense that I value my alone time and enjoy doing things on my own. While others may feel awkward dining alone I will plan entire days of me enjoying a meal, exploring the city and attending events by myself. Sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is leaving my phone at home and going for lunch by myself.
I am unapologetically opinionated. While others may find my opinions bold and my need to stand up for others “unwarranted” I am infinitely proud of the fact that I can stand up for those more people should stand up for. Whether it’s showing solidarity through my actions, my buying power, or with my words I’ve always strived to understand that my life is about building a community and that my actions have consequences.
WHAT HAS THE JOURNEY BEEN SO FAR TO CONNECTING TO YOUR TRUE SELF?
Growing up in a small city it seemed like my surroundings dictate a formula rather than a journey. While settling down and starting a family young fit into the lives of the majority of people around me it never seemed to fit into mine. There was a time I was content with the idea of living in my hometown forever and my dreams seemed too farfetched for someone who grew up in Lethbridge. I never vocalized my opinions since they were unpopular and “too modern” for my surroundings. Any time I would express an interest in pursuing fashion as a career I would be told to “get a real job” and that my life wasn’t ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
Moving to Vancouver was both the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done and the most important thing I’ve ever done. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals was like coming up for a breath of fresh air. Being in this city recharged my life in a way that’s hard to measure. The experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met and the opportunities presented to me since moving to Vancouver 3 years ago far outweighs the ones I had all 23 years prior to moving here. I have accomplished so many things since moving here that I couldn’t even fathom a few years ago.
It’s strange to look back on my journey of discovering my true self and realizing that it started when I moved to a city I wasn’t familiar with, where I didn’t have a job and had no friends.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS KNOCK YOU OUT OF ALIGNMENT TO YOUR TRUE SELF?
Every now and again I will be reminded of that pesky formula of what other people think my life should be and I second guess my choices. Other peoples’ criticisms of me are sometimes echo in my own mind:
Was it foolish for me to pursue a career in this highly competitive industry? Aren’t you worried that people will think you’re a workaholic? Don’t you think it’s a deep personal failure to almost be 30 and still single? What if you change your mind about having kids and it’s too late?
When I get wrapped up in where societal norms think I should be in my life it can take a while for me to regain my balance and sense of self.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS HELP YOU FEEL MORE YOUR TRUE SELF?
Spending time with other people who are still learning who they are and discussing questions like this. Understanding my true self is deeply rooted in understanding what helps someone else feel theirs. I believe that to truly understand someone is to love them. If I can broaden my understanding and sympathy for those who are different that I am my community and life will be more enriched because of it presenting me with other avenues to discover more of my hidden truths.
DOES YOUR CLOTHING AFFECT HOW YOU CONNECT?
Working in the fashion industry has left me with a stronger connection to clothing than most people have. The clothes I pick speaks to my style and personality and is often the first thing strangers comment on when meeting me. Because it’s usually the first topic that comes up when around strangers I have shifted my buying power to make a more meaningful impact and hopefully start a discussion with those I meet. If the #GrabYourWallet movement has taught me anything it’s that where you put your money matters and I try to make the decision to support local brands, ethically produced garments, companies that are environmentally conscious and thrifting whenever possible.
I also believe that this helps me connect with people on a larger scale and not just the people I am direct contact with. When I am more meaningful with the clothing I purchase I can feel good knowing that the garments workers that worked on that piece of clothing are in safe working environment being paid a fair wage, that being dressed is not at the detriment of our planet or that I am reducing my consumption by buying something thrifted therefore keeping it out of a landfill.
Originally posted on Nicole Bridger.