Story of Thu Pham, Senior Financial Analyst at Lionbridge
Growing up Vietnamese American, there were differences in cultural values and upbringing that had a huge impact on my identity. I grew up in great confusion with a lot of self-doubt and limiting beliefs that I carried forward into my adult years. Early in life, I was deeply influenced by my parents since I was very close to them. With a huge age gap of nearly fifty years, they were very traditional and strict, so I grew up in great fear of them, and I made sure I always did as I was told. In school, I was encouraged to speak up, to raise questions, and to voice my opinions. At home, I was taught to know my place, to always obey and to never talk back. If I thought any differently, I would’ve felt disrespectful or that I was a bad daughter. I didn’t want to disappoint my folks and I wanted to make them happy – I wanted them to be proud of me. The need for approval became very apparent and eventually, that led into a fear of being judged by others. I lived a good part of my life unhappy because I was trying to live up to other people’s expectations. I wanted to feel accepted and I was afraid to be different, I was afraid to be myself.
My discovery of yoga in my early twenties led me to question who I was and what I wanted out of my friendships and relationships. As I progressed in my practice, I developed a deeper understanding of myself and my ways of thinking. My mat was home for me – it was where I could express myself without any judgement or fear, and it was where I found the strength to break free from hindering thoughts. Yoga was a place for growth, it was where I felt beautiful, alive, strong, and free. It was where I learned acceptance, compassion, and love for myself; and it’s those very lessons that I carry into my life this day.
Once I shed the layers, I’m at peace with who I am because I know it’s coming from a place of truth and I’m no longer fighting what’s inside. I no longer looked to another for validation and I can truly appreciate my whole being. It took me a very long time to understand that. I used to hate it when I heard comments like “You’re so weird”. Now, I can honestly laugh about it because I know there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just a little different. It is our uniqueness that makes us strong and beautiful. My experiences have allowed me to have this understanding for myself, and it has helped me develop empathy for people who feel different. I hope it inspires others to do the same for themselves – to be true to yourself and to have the courage to live life on your own terms.
Connect with Thu Pham on LinkedIn
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