life has its timing.

If you follow me on Instagram (yes, I just had to plug my account), I’ve recently updated my biography to that phrase, life has its timing.

I’ve accepted that when we look backwards in life, we can connect the dots that led up to the present. Whether it’s our academic journeys (that bad grade taught me to proofread, woo) or friendships/relationships (magic! after many close encounters), there are small and seemingly insignificant moments that snowball into drastic life changes that we wouldn’t have expected.

But it’s hard to remember that this present moment is also part of those “insignificant moments that end up snowballing”. How we react in these moments will snowball towards the destiny we would like to create. So lately, I’ve been repeating the phrase “life has its timing” to help me connect the dots forward.

This phrase and reminder has anchored me through challenges that test my character, values and priorities. In my personal life, I’ve reached an epiphany that is quite painful and is testing my values. I’ve spent nearly two weeks being angry, ranting to close friends, and sometimes, imagining my revenge. I’ve cried numerous times in fear that important people will be taken away from me because of this epiphany.

Rather than bottling up my emotions, I let myself feel and let emotions take their course until they tire out and have shown me their lesson. The lesson was the painful epiphany. Life had its timing, to gift this challenge to me AFTER I was able to build closer friendships these past few months. AFTER my finals but BEFORE my summer class. Only NOW would I be emotionally strong and supported enough to reach my epiphany, rather than continuing to keep my head down in denial. Only now am I able to make the internal changes to adjust to this epiphany.

Now is the perfect timing to set this snowball rolling towards the destiny I want to create.


I believe in the human ability to adapt.

HELLO! Long time no see. It’s been a whole semester, a whole year since we last spoke!

Life update: Ran for CUS third year rep then resigned later because in addition to new priorities and opportunities in my life, I was overloading myself so much that it severely negatively impacted my midterm grades.

Thankfully, I discovered and quickly accepted my limitations to not push them any further. However, my grades were not looking good. So, as you can imagine, I carried the most stress I’ve ever carried into an academic exam season (yes, even more than IB). Taking 3 COMM classes (HR, Finance, Managerial Accounting) and 2 Math classes (Calculus III, Linear Algebra) and being an in-class TA? 6 subjects worth of material was quite an amount to handle (and I confess, I wasn’t the most helpful TA).

BUT I AM HERE! I AM ALIVE! I MADE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE! (And to be frank, my results have been surprisingly OK) But oh man, have I learned lots:

  1. Mental, emotional and physical health come first. Be super aware of your energy and work with its ups and downs; don’t fight them. Finals season is a consistent marathon of studying for one final and once that final is over, studying for another one. It’s worth taking the night off after a final and take those 3 hours to hang out with friends and recharge the brain. Then you’ll be able to refocus again the next day and have more effective studying done in shorter times. If you’re sick, it’s worth getting better first and even getting academic concession, so you don’t take an exam sick and exhausted.
  2. Be open to different study methods. No matter how your semester went, choose your study resources and methods wisely through experimentation! Here are some of the things I found helpful this semester:
    1. Study with other professor’s materials: saved me from reading through a very dry textbook and managed to pull me through with a decent mark despite questionable attendance!
    2. TYPE up a study guide; focus on understanding concepts over memorizing: I had started off this exam season handwriting them which became very ineffective because I went through material so slowly that I would forget everything by the end of all of my revision. Using OneNote and being able to highlight/bold/underline was much faster and I still was able to retain the same information better because I spent the time saved from handwriting to really delve in and understand the information rather than just memorizing!
    3. Study with a friend! I personally cannot study with more than one person because I get distracted by conversation easily. Study with one other person who you’re comfortable with, who keeps you accountable and is not distracting. Basically main reason I got through this exam season was my study buddy! Bonus if they’re very calming and reassuring as well! You feel less lonely and sometimes when they talk about how they study, they can point you towards better studying methods! Also I feel bad procrastinating in front of my study buddy because I dragged them all the way out to study with me. ^^”
    4. Ask for help and go to office hours: I spent more time in the Math Learning Centre than in my own faculty building’s CPA hall. Sucking up my ego and admitting I barely understood my math classes to the teaching assistants at the MLC was the best thing I did. They ran through concepts with me to make sure I really understood them, such as letting me explain and recall the Invertible Matrix Theorem. Without them, I don’t even think I would have passed, let alone done decent!
      • Seriously, come to my office hours COMM 205 MIS peeps! I love explaining Excel and R; I get so hella enthusiastic my friends tell me to calm down!
  3. Listen to your gut. People have vibes and your subconscious picks up on them faster than your conscious self. If you’re drawn to someone, go for it (friendship or romantic sense)! If you think someone’s shady, chances are either you’re misunderstanding them or you’re right that they DO have a hidden agenda. I used to overthink social situations and relationships with people because I have insecurities around being isolated/rejected by people. BUT listening to my gut (instead of almost “calculating” what I did) has brought terrific people into my life this year that I could have never imagined would positively influence me so much.
  4. Time management is about priority management. Quality over quantity. Coming into 2018, I had a self-destructive attitude towards time. I packed my google calendar with items and I was that girl who studied on the bus, and basically was always doing something “productive”. There were things I did that frankly did not match my priorities but I did them (but not to the best of my abilities) regardless out of fear and routine. Re-prioritizing my life and picking fewer obligations saved me from burning out continuously like I did last year. I’m happier now. I make time for people I love. I may not do as “much”, BUT, the obligations I focus on, I do better now. I don’t have to be busy to be worthy.
  5. If you put in the effort and the intention, the universe will carry your momentum forward and conspire to make what you want happen. It may not be immediate, because perhaps you’re not ready for that yet. The universe may give you a few lessons first to jump through so you’re ready. Perhaps what you think you want right now might not be what you really want, and the universe is delaying you reaching your current goals so that you find the right ones. Regardless, I’ve learned that the universe has its perfect timing. What and who is meant to be yours, will be yours if you set the intention.

The biggest lesson I learned was that because I am a human, I have the ability to persevere, learn and adapt. I’ve had to be reassured dozens of times during the school year, just thinking about the exam season. I’ve had dozens of panicky moments when studying with my study buddies. And yet, I made it through with adequate sleep and with surprisingly good results! Into the future, I will remind myself that if I can make it through this exam season, I truly can adapt to the challenges life has to bring!

This semester has been the most mixed feelings emotional roller-coaster of my life! I’ve have the most blissful moments with the people I love, as well as the most freak-outs at the smallest inkling of stress. Letting myself feel more emotion in each situation and to be more present meant the roller-coaster this semester was more intense, but I would not have wanted this semester to have gone any other way.

What does being a CUS Board Member mean to me?

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
—Peter Drucker

I joined for self confidence and gained an appreciation for devil’s advocates and visionaries.

When I first ran for the second year representative position, it was on a seeking-self-confidence whim. I wanted to prove my fears wrong because social interactions were my biggest fear points. Prior to running, whenever I interacted with others, I felt like I was wasting their time, so being in CUS, I felt as though I could finally be worthy and useful to someone because they knew they could get a hold of me if they wanted to reach the CUS.

8 months later, the experience of answering occasional questions about the purpose of the Board and seeing overhauls of old processes like special projects funding, I realize what the role of a Board of Directors is. In addition to representing the needs of constituents, the Board provides a big picture perspective on ensuring that CUS processes add value to UBC Sauder students’ lives. 

“Effectiveness—often even survival—does not depend solely on how much effort we expend, but on whether or not the effort we expend is in the right jungle.”

—Stephen R. Covey

Because there is no specific job description (yet) to describe the role of Board members, I found this interpretation through being very lost. Previously, I felt like I didn’t do enough like the overwhelmed executive team and felt, ironically, less confident and more of a roadblock to their work and and overall waste of time.

But this hands-off, less minutiae role helped me develop the critical thinking skills that are essential with this position. When executive team meetings run ever more efficient and zip quickly, through service updates and funding request presentations, it can be an advantage to be an “uninformed” Board Member who asks questions when they are confused rather than agreeing with assumptions to “fit in”.

The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, “Wrong jungle!”

But how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? “Shut up! We’re making progress.”

—Stephen R. Covey

Being bold and questioning existing practices went against my habit of obedience in my upbringing, with filial piety in Chinese culture. But being bold and questioning practices can be learned, through repetition. So OK, playing devil’s advocate and not taking things at face value. That’s doable.

However, when you do ask questions, naturally, you’ll get questions on how to improve the existing practices. Values, such as transparency, will be the guiding principles that a Board member must keep in mind when making recommendations to improve such existing practices.

“We are more in need of a vision or designation and a compass (a set of principles or directions) and less in need of a road map.”

—Stephen R. Covey

For example, with the value of transparency, I observed how the organization would benefit from a small buffer in the budget for unforeseen monetary circumstances, like costs that services incur because of hotels’ prices hikes etc. I called into question moral hazard because this buffer could encourage bad budgeting, but ultimately board did agree that it is better to recommend an explicit line item rather than misusing another line item for the same purpose. I still need to explicitly outline the recommendation and know whom to recommend this to for next year’s team (exams got in the way…).

But if a shy kid who feared social interactions like me can do this, you can too!

Thus, to my peers who are interested in running for year representative positions this upcoming January, I encourage you to do the following:

  • Think about what types of values you want to bring to the organization. This is for all Board members, not solely the president. The president alone does not determine the values of the organization; the president relies on the Board to keep them accountable to their promises to constituents.
  • After elections, collaborate and see where your values overlap with other members.
  • Create a charter of values that will be the compass for you when you are faced with making monetary decisions and other impacting actions.
  • Inform yourselves, without being caught up in the minutiae or feel bad for not managing the minutiae. Don’t feel as though being “new” makes your suggestions invalid in comparison to experienced members, because your questions can point out weaknesses which, through improvements, can become stronger.

Ultimately, you are the ones to decide what is the right thing, and you lead the entire team of 500+ volunteers through guiding the executive team.

thank you for letting me lean on you.

the past two weeks i feel as though second year is pulling me apart. i prided myself on productivity and efficiency but now i can barely get up in the morning.

i guess we can’t always be at our maximum capacity, that’s not feasible for machines (yay oplog) let alone human beings.

i prided myself on being a tenacious emotional rock, someone who could be leaned on, who could be a beacon when times got dark. i withdrew from close friends and family because i didn’t want to burden them, subsequently, i feel like i’m alone, that i’m unworthy of existing and am wasting oxygen.

thank you for the group project members who graciously gave me time to recollect myself when i was screaming internally (and for giving me a quick second on skype as i bawled while curled in a ball on my bedroom floor). thank you to the study buddies who had to reassure me when i cried in front of them for the first time. thank you to upper year students who literally had to deal with a crying me in the middle of their studies.

thank you for my peers who barely knew me, for giving me hugs when i could barely answer “how are you doing”. for your advice on taking up meditation, exercise, mindfulness; listening to soothing/angry music; going for walks in nature; when i desperately asked you how you de-stress.

i had thought of you all as “acquaintances” who i had to portray a certain level of got-it-together-ness because i had to somehow represent you when we decide how we handle 1M?? i thought i had to study and stress out alone so i wouldn’t have to show my tears and fears and be really, really vulnerable.

thank you for your kindness and support; and proving the negative critic in my mind that tells me that if i were to open up, you’d laugh, mock, use my weaknesses to hurt me.

vulnerability is ugly crying, courage and connection comes from admitting that we are all also ugly crying?? there’s a reason i’m not brene brown who is eloquent about vulnerability and its power for connection.

anywhoodle-di-do, thank you and good luck on midterms!

i will skedaddle for now, and perhaps my next post will have some capital letters. maybe.

Push vs. Pull (a rant on burnout)

The first two weeks of school have been rough. I didn’t realize how much it got to me until I was stuffing my already full-from-dinner-self with an Oreo shake and sweet potato fries from Triple O’s while trying not to bawl in the empty Tim Horton’s on campus. I barely ate anything before I felt sick and even more sad so I didn’t even finish any of it. (comfort foods are lies…)

I dropped a class, an extracurricular commitment and, frankly, people who had stressed me out. Immediately, I felt a weight lift because I was no longer pushing myself and filling my life with “Should Do” instead of “Want to Do”.

But now, half a week later, I feel the strangest… force. The force to be busy, just because. My friends who aren’t academically jam-packed have their time filled with work and extracurricular activities. Everyone is grabbing another coffee to make up for lost sleep, multitasking because being ON 24/7 still does not give enough time.

A “Should Do” pops up in my head: I should push myself to be busy like they are and my involvements are not enough. I should push myself even when my mind and body were not in good places with so much activity, because everyone else seems to handle more activity, while balancing on the brink of burn-out.

Has there been another class or extracurricular activity that has pulled me into it because I’m interested? Frankly, no.

But I want to leave a reserve of time and energy when that activity appears, and I want to let myself be pulled towards it, like a magnet, because I’m interested in it.

CUS has drawn me in and I constantly find myself giving back more hours than necessary, enjoying it and feeling recharged. I want my other extracurricular activities and classes to do the same.

I’ve been an advocate of self-care and putting mental/physical health first.

I’m trying to live up to my own advice of “don’t join a bunch of things thinking to pad resumes, because within resumes you have to talk about how you went beyond your position and not the number of positions you have.”

Basically my entire support network is stressed out and on the verge of burn out, and I’m trying so hard to be that battery that recharges my support network (and now, a sizable amount of first years who rely on me for advice…)

It breaks my heart and stresses me out, these friends who are now jaded and no longer have the same sparkle in their eye and energy. Yet this “busy-ness” is the norm? This is not sustainable?


Hustle towards a goal and sacrificing social life and occasionally sleep is understandable. But my friends who work hard towards a goal they want? They are energized by the goal and their actions, not depleted by them. So they are energetic despite possible lack of sleep, social life etc.

I guess all I am trying to say is that I notice in university the pressure to give up health & wellness to seem busy all for what? Another position on the resume despite not having any content beneath it? Can we stop worshiping people and talk in awe about people who overwork themselves at 200% and can barely stay awake and are obviously miserable?

Am I not cut out for my faculty and competitive enough now because I don’t spread myself thin enough? Is a work-life balance too much to ask for in a career? I like being awake enough to participate in class discussions, drive safely and think clearly and on my feet. Do I really need to sacrifice my own values and push myself towards a career I don’t feel any interest towards?

All a few questions I have while trying to determine my option in second year. Thanks for the read, even though it’s brutally honest and not very optimistic?

Habits + Malleable brains

My proudest moment of 2017 happened when I was jogging like any other ordinary day.

Jogging like any other ordinary day.

That phrase did not exist in my life until April 2017. Me and exercise were never put in the same sentence nor positively until April 2017.

Since I stated high school, I equally disliked my body appearance and exercise. I’m lucky that I eat a healthy diet with low fat and other flavours, since I eat Cantonese food–so while I was never overweight, I wasn’t skinny or athletic either. For graduation and CAS requirements I did do Taekwondo, learned kpop dances for fun and tried Blogilates videos, but I always felt it was a chore even though the methods I chose were supposed to be fun. Also, I still remember being last while running laps in PE in school. Sad times.

Perhaps it was the stress of final exams or sitting on my butt for so long my butt felt numb that got me to run outside. I’m not exactly sure what started this habit.

But I do know now that this habit has become a part of me, because if I don’t start the day with at least walking outside, I’m exhausted for the rest of the day. Also, once I came back from vacation after a month, I felt no resistance to get back to running and craved running instead. Weird, right?

A combination of these things made making this habit easier:

  • Consistency: I ran at approximately the same time (after a light breakfast), location (around the townhouses complexes, exactly 1 KM), wore similar clothes (from my running clothes drawer, same worn out shoes) and accessories (random chinese hat, phone protecting pouch)
    • makes it easier for this habit to become automatic
    • reduces resistance to the habit – my clothes being in the wash threw me off one day
  • Accountability: I used runkeeper ( to track my runs using GPS. It reminds me to run in the afternoon if I hadn’t run that morning. I like to see if I can get a better time than yesterday (they compare all workouts) and I can’t lie to the app either since it uses GPS.
  • Self-kindness (??): I’m not sure this is the right phrase, but I would not let a bad day affect my next day. If today’s a bad day, well, whatever, at least I did it. If I broke my running streak, I could just get back on it. This mentality was the key to me successfully turning this into a habit.

I’m just so… amazed that the brain can be so flexible and I can change my opinion about something so strongly. I didn’t like running because it made me sweaty, uncomfortable, shameful for being unfit. Now I like running because it makes me sweaty, and being unfit just motivates me more to run?

By no means am I an athlete or marathon runner, I only run/walk 3km. My pace is a lot slower than my pace in June before I left for vacation.

But it gives me hope that if I can learn to crave exercise, I can eventually train myself to not binge eat, to be grateful instead of guilty, to become confident instead of self-sabotaging. Maybe one day, I’ll truly believe in myself. 🙂

Our brains can be changed with just thoughts and ideas, and as we develop these habits, it only becomes easier. I hope you develop a new habit for the rest of 2017 or even for 2018!


Lessons from the 20th AWF PEAK Awards

Last night, I had the honour of attending the 20th Association of Women in Finance (AWF)’s PEAK Awards at the UBC Sauder School of Business table. I was the only guest under nineteen and not yet a working professional! The attendees were insightful, the award recipients were great speakers, and the dinner was delicious!

I learned many lessons that evening.

Coming into the wine reception, I was nursing a glass of ice water which made my hands wet with condensation… please do not make my mistake. If you will drink water, get a lukewarm glass or a wine glass with a stem.

After standing alone for a solid minute in sheer panic and hesitation, I shyly smiled at two friendly women who were a UBC alumni and a manager from Grant Thornton. Thankfully, they were graceful and kind to share about their careers. The manager’s story on teaching high school math while taking a break from accounting stuck out to me the most. When she shared this, I asked if she ever regrets her choice, but she shared the following thought with me.

No experience, no matter how “irrelevant”, is a bad career move. You can only learn more skills and perspectives that add to your abilities.

This is an important message to internalise. Too often in business school, we as students feel completely defeated if we don’t have The Right Position™ or The Right Internship™. Though prestige and networks are important to an extent, how much your role can bring you to success still depends on what you make of it. Do you take initiative? Do you show commitment? Do you go beyond your requirements? Those are good questions to ask and see if you’re really taking advantage of your current opportunities.

After the wine reception, it was time for dinner. Though food is my true love, the award recipients’ stole my heart. The award presenters shared heartwarming tales of their friendships with the recipients, and the recipients shared interesting stories and advice to young women in finance.

The lifetime achievement recipient, Geri Prior, had plentiful advice from a life well lived, but this truth stuck out to me in particular, especially hearing her story of taking on the role of CFO and later CEO at ICBC.

If you are scared and lack confidence when an opportunity arises, take the opportunity anyway and ask for help when needed.

Taking opportunities even when you don’t feel completely prepared hit home because I thought of all the opportunities I had passed up because I did not think I could learn the skills to succeed!

A few weeks ago at the first CUS Board of Directors meeting, I passed the opportunity to be a Vice-Chairperson despite Daphne, our president, nominating me. I hadn’t believed that I could learn Roberts’ Rules. She even told me that she wasn’t prepared going into the role but just quickly learned the rules after a few meetings. But back then, I still did not have the confidence to even try.

Though the decision appears minor, I felt immense regret after I declined because the decision didn’t align with my value of growth or open-mindedness…

During the closing remarks for the evening, Norma Reid asked us all to reflect on how much has changed in the past twenty years for women in finance. As the room fell silent with reflection, I felt floored. All of these men and women around me went beyond what they imagined was possible, thrived through rejections, chased visions that seemed impractical… so that young women like me could so easily pick the “finance” option for our degree.

Norma then asked what would twenty years into the future look like? No longer needing this discussion. Women also involved in board and committees. Parents of all genders having support to raise a family while being a working professional.

The evening inspired me to dream big. To take on opportunities even when you aren’t 100% prepared, but be 100% ready to learn and ask for help. 

That’s what these glass-ceiling breaking professionals have done, and what we must do as the future generation.

(Just so things are clear, ready to learn means researching about the opportunity and understanding what you can bring to the table! Don’t ever enter an interview without researching!)


Inside-Out: an anecdote on paradigm shifts.

Paradigm: The way we “see” the world—not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting.
—Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People


For someone who claims to believe that I have control over my own life, there is one glaring relationship and one glaring paradigm I have not addressed in my life.

Today, while clearing the ice with my little brother for our freezer, I told my brother that he was taking too long to clear the ice and that I should remove the ice with the shovel and that he can go sweep the ice (the less fun thing to do).

My paradigm of him is that I view him as inferior because I needed to feel superior to him.

I have based my thinly veiled sense of confidence on him. Like you read in my last post, my brother was a part of my insecurity. I felt that I had to show him I was a perfect person, that I have to be a good example and be better than him. Simultaneously, I wanted my parents to lower their power dynamic with him like how they did with me and have them trust him more.

But this was all hypocritical, because basically since he was conceived, I had held the belief that I had to be better than him.

I’m waiting for him to come home now, because he deserves to be treated like an equal, deserves to hear my honest thoughts like how I am now more open and honest with my parents, my friends, my peers and even online. Everyone except for him.

I consider it a paradigm because this frame of reference underlies all the interactions I’ve had with him. My tone, our topic of conversation, advice I give, etc. I would worry about his grades, assume he was gaming and being unproductive.

But my frame of reference is wrong and it overshadows and ignores items that don’t fit it. My brother has a hilarious sense of humour, is incredibly curious and charismatic, and is a great debater. These items do not fit my narrative of him and my mom has had to remind me that these aspects are very special and fragile; and she strives to protect them.

I am both ashamed and liberated by the realization. I dread my brother coming home but I want to apologize and work together on how to rebuild this relationship and rebuild my view of him.

I’ve been fiercely protective of and very close with my little brother, and I do have unconditional love for him. However, this paradigm of wanting to be superior to him… it could even lead him to have a very low self-esteem. This realization honestly breaks my heart…


When he did come home, I asked him if he had some time and I told him how I felt and treated him more as a friend and an equal. Naturally, he started talking about his day; something that I had been prodding him to do every meal. I ended up playing a game of toss with him with our feet, which was very fun!!

The only drawback was that I forgot to respect his time because I forgot it was Sunday and that he had homework. It wasn’t too much, but alas, it was still 45 minutes of his time spent. I do hope he did not feel that it was a waste of time, because I sure didn’t.

I am very thankful though of the realization I made today, and will be making a more conscious effort to think of him as my equal and not subordinate, just like how I think of my parents as my equals and not higher up.


I highly recommend that you read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Even before Stephen Covey dives into the seven habits, listening to the preface on paradigms and the particular section “The Way We See the Problem is the Problem” (ctrl+f search that part in this PDF) while running gave me the realization of the incorrect view I had of my brother.

I will work hard to maintain this new view of my brother as an equal and not to fall into my old habits of thought. But this epiphany and truly understanding that my locus of control only lies within me, it’s a very powerful thing.

I’m going to keep learning and re-learning the concepts in this book of course; just because I learn and practice it now in this scenario doesn’t mean that it occurs to me every scenario. Stephen R. Covey himself says he re-reads his own book and gains new insight each time he does read it.

For me, I’ll just keep the audio version playing in the background during my runs and commute!


Delving deep into my insecurities, and rising back up.

I’ve heard that people actually look forward to reading my posts. This is a long one where I delve deep, deep into my insecurities and my past. It’s an estimated fifteen minute read! Grab yourself a cup of tea, we’re headed deep into my favourite place, Introspection Land.

Coming straight out of exams, I’ve been able to catch up with friends, whether hanging out or even over messages because I finally turned my notifications for messenger back on again! I’ve also been lucky enough to go to multiple orientations, training sessions and also summits which centre around leadership, influence and impact.

But somehow, I kept messaging my friends about how I was feeling… irritable and couldn’t sleep. I knew there was something BUT I couldn’t place my finger on why I felt so unusual. I told my friends that I really appreciated them listening to me being confused even when I couldn’t tell them WHY I was confused and would message them once I further unpacked and really sat down and thought about things. It comes with being introverted; I need space alone to bounce my own thoughts around my head and on paper.

After a really nice phone call with Julianne Nieh and hearing her talk about the growth and insights she’s taken from a three-day training program she’s been doing the past few days, and how her past narrative has been limiting her, I had a better sense of how I wanted to take my unpacking – I needed to get down to the root of my discomfort.

Part 1: Unpacking my discomfort

So like I mentioned in my last post, I really wanted to take on why I felt so uncomfortable promoting myself and talking about myself. I love free flowing brainstorms and nothing really beats pencil to paper, and so I really, really let myself write anything and everything down onto paper.


There are curse words and unpacking of gender roles, my culture, how I was raised, my relationships I’ve had with people… I’ll be honest, I really want to blur out this entire mindmap because I’m frankly very nervous and uncomfortable with what I’ve written down; but I wrote this down even before my conscious self could reject what my hand was scrawling out.

BUT I also gained lots of insight in this 10-minute brain dump. I’m not sure quite what to think of it so, like all of my blog posts, I’m hoping that typing this out gives me a better idea of how all this info connects together.

1. My inability to promote myself comes from a very, very low self-confidence.
I felt very defeated, yet also freed, coming to this realization.

After transferring out of McRoberts and into Richmond High, I became really close friends with Brian Fabula, my winter formal date and also Class Historian. Sometime between Grade 11 and Grade 12, we got to know each other a lot better and he’d always remind me to not have such a negative perception of myself. He’d try to boost my confidence by saying that I had a charm with everyone, named it, and every time I talked with someone he’d be like “that was the SP effect”. Sorry fab for revealing an inside joke, but really, that joke helped counter my negative self-talk that I was a burden to everyone.

Being in a leadership position, having incoming students and peers telling me how much they admired me… I’ve always been someone who stayed away from the limelight because I’ve hated attention. Now being here, I realize that every small thing I do makes double the impact it did before. The events I click “interested” in, the pages I like. I get surprised at who “likes” my activity and who comments on it. Because everything that I do, it sets an example for someone, somewhere.

But now being important enough to have a reputation attached to my name, my natural instinct is to deny and hide. In the last HeWe eats event, Adrian, last year’s VP Engagement, took a snap video asking me and Hannah Chiang (ExCO Chair! #explorewithExCO) what our favourite part of HeWe was. I was fidgeting so much, couldn’t even look at the camera, and was not forming complete sentences. I’m incredibly embarrassed that I had such a negative reaction to attention.

I’m no longer able to fake self-confidence and my instinct to hide is taking over my life and making it difficult to properly fulfill my role as a Second Year Representative.  I’ve been hiding and self-sabotaging and rather than actively identify where my strengths are and telling myself that I am worthy of where I am. My negative self talk is louder than ever and I’ve been crumbling my own self-confidence after building it up throughout this year.

The next question I had to explore: Why do I cling onto this low self-confidence?

2. My low self-confidence stems from my upbringing: friends, family, culture, gender roles. 


Having moved around five different elementary schools, I’ve always had trouble making and maintaining friends, because all the schools I went to had cliques. Literally, the only people who would talk to me were students who had special needs. While I really liked their presence and the stigma towards ableism is very unfair, I internalized the rejection from my peers being a new kid.

It was only in Grade 4 that I made my first friend, Miranda. She had me very confused, because she would constantly ditch me at school and have her friends run away from me but after school we would hang out. We have a strong friendship now, and without her help, I wouldn’t have made it through my time at McRoberts, but at that time, I internalized that I was an embarrassment of a friend.

Because I moved elementary schools, I lost touch with Miranda and befriended another close friend. I won’t name her but with her negative self-talk and me constantly trying to cheer her up, I lost my optimism and let myself get influenced by her negative self-talk. Body image issues, reducing my own intelligence, where the things she did and things that I internalized which affect my self-confidence today. I do not blame her for this, but I have to acknowledge her impact. We’ve cut our friendship many years ago, but one year with her had shaped most of my time at McRoberts.


In my family, my dad is generally a more expressive, assertive person and my mom is quieter and is more yielding to my dad. We immigrated to Canada when I was four, and with difficult financial circumstances, my parents fought a lot. My dad was angry his english limited him from working and did not like relying on my mom; my mom, who has a masters degree, would also be unhappy her skills could not get her a well paying job here. I internalized my mom’s yielding to my dad, and internalized my dad’s harsh words for my mom when his temper got very bad. Now, they’re on much better terms and even go on walks together every single day, rain or shine; I know, my parents are relationship goals. But their arguments made an impact because when I get incredibly panicked, my negative self-talk comes out in Cantonese, a language that is so rooted in my childhood but we rarely use at home since my brother speaks only Mandarin.

My little brother was born when I was seven, and naturally, I helped out my parents in raising him. I have always prided myself in not being a jealous child, because I would not retaliate when my parents needed help – I was proud that I was super useful and helpful. But one family vacation in Russia, I burst out crying that I felt as though my parents did not care about me at all, and that I was only a babysitter to their son. I internalized that my worth was contingent to how helpful I was.

Up until a month ago, when I was arguing with my dad about whether I should do PMF or not, I’ve let my dad just assume that he can plan out my summers and my life. My friends keep telling me to stand up for myself, and I really appreciate your belief in me Charlotte & Grace, and slowly I’ve been able to change the dynamic from subordinate and superior to equals with my parents. But before, I internalized that I should not even have the audacity to take control of my life.

Culture & Gender Roles

Though I was born in 广州 (Guangzhou), my family comes from a smaller town, 湛江(Zhanjiang). It was only my parents’ generation that got educated and left to the big city and were exposed to much more modern views. My parents are very modern in comparison to my extended family, they believe in gender equality and prioritized my education over their financial well-being in China.

One aspect my parents heavily disagree with but is ingrained in Chinese culture is 重男輕女. It basically means preferring sons over daughters. I overheard my aunt explain to my grandma (mom’s side) that when I was born, my grandmother only put 80 cents and was super disappointed that her son’s first child was a girl. Whenever my family visits my grandparents, my grandparents always treat my little brother with extra enthusiasm, even when they have a language barrier and he cannot speak any Cantonese. I’ve internalized that being a girl makes me less worthy and this is an incredibly dangerous internalization, not just for me, but for the entire gender I represent. 

3. I’ve always prided myself on being “humble”, but what does that mean?

This article has unwrapped the extremeness of humility and has made me realize that I was not just harming myself, but perpetuating a stereotype of south east asian girls of being submissive. Additionally, my brother emulates this low self-confidence and whether he’s aware of it or not, I’ve made an impact on him.

So I decided to do some googling on some words and the definitions shocked me into changing my mindset on how I view self-worth.

Humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance.
Arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of importance and abilities.
Confidence: self-assurance rising from appreciating oneself.

Up until last night, I would pride myself on being humble. Of never feeling superior to anyone. But a low estimate of one’s importance… this hit an immediate nerve and I wrote down “denial of responsibility almost?”.

I can’t just deny the importance that I’ve carved out for myself in these positions. Santa Ono doesn’t go around pretending he’s not UBC President, he takes this power and uses it to raise awareness in areas like mental health. Being humble is not useful at all, it’s another form of hiding away from the spotlight and staying in my comfort zone.

I despise arrogance and since I have figures in my life that spew arrogance and put others down, I have always ran towards humility because I did not want to emulate arrogance at all. But I never considered how awkward and how much emotional labour others need to do if I were to be humble. I force others to come up with compliments to bring my confidence back up, whether genuine or not. I don’t want to do that at all!!!!

I was frustrated that up until yesterday, I assumed the only alternative to arrogance was humility. How could this be? Why are there two extremes? I googled proud (deep satisfaction in oneself, high excessive opinion) and dignity (being worthy of respect) and other words until I hit the definition of confidence.

If I could wash a word clean from its connotations, it would be confidence. Confidence has a negative connotation in “being too confident” because it is a very, very powerful concept. When someone is self-assured because they appreciate who they are, no criticism will reduce their importance. No words can harm them.

Confidence is the perfect balance between humility and arrogance. A “duh” moment goes off, because duh, self-confidence and not self-humility or self-arrogance. But this for me is an incredibly powerful idea.

So now I realize, I don’t value humility, I value confidence. Confidence comes from actively learning who you are, knowing your strengths and limitations, and accepting yourself for who you are whilst also knowing that you can change yourself to improve, not changing because you aren’t good enough.

Part 2: Now what?

So I’m more vulnerable than ever now? I’ve laid all of my internalized insecurities on the mind map, and onto this post. Now you, me, the entire world, knows me better than I did yesterday.

So, I did another mind map to visualize what confidence looks like to me.


This is quite incomplete, and I only did spend five minutes on this rather than ten because I was getting tired and it was midnight.

1. To improve how I project confidence, it only comes with more practice and more challenges.

No silver bullet here, just continuous practice. But I do have to be aware of these things when I am talking.

  • Calm: Steady voice, steady body. My voice does not need to be loud, it does not need to be fast. It just needs to be steady. I don’t need to do power poses, I just need to make eye contact and stay still instead of fidget.
  • Conversation: Any speaking is a conversation. It’s not only they talk, or only I talk. It is a conversation. Do not always focus on being a certain way, remember that I am delivering information through my voice and they are doing the same back. Criticism is not personal, sharing and collaboration is encouraged. Yielding is my strength, but assertion is also important.

2. Mental talk is even harder to change, but… “I think, therefore I am”.

When I said “fake confidence” in this post, I realize that I just completely invalidated the rocky journey I’ve had coming up to this point. My current confidence is not fake, it does come from understanding my strengths and limitations.

Like what I did just now, being more aware of the assumptions my negative mental talk makes and understanding its origins is the first step to changing it. Surrounding myself with people who grow because they want to add onto who they already are and enjoy the challenge; quotes that give me a little pick-me-up, these are all steps I take to adjust my mental talk.

  • Mistakes = learning, not “being dumb” (it’s also an ableist term, the word dumb)
  • Being a human, my unique experience is inherently interesting
  • I am always learning, intelligence should not be judged on questions
    • “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire
  • I am human, I do not need to be perfect. There is no perfection.

3. Re-Framing my worthiness.

I have not yet fully expanded on this point in my brain storm and am not sure how I can explain this point I wrote down.

At first, I wrote down “how I add value”. This shows how deeply I believe worth is contingent on value added. I wrote down and highlighted that “worthiness regardless if you add value or not” but I don’t really believe that (yet?). I deeply value service and adding value to other’s lives.

So Google says worthiness: “the quality of being good enough, suitability” and “the quality of deserving attention or respect”.

I’m thinking perhaps I can’t necessary perceive all of the value that I add to other people’s lives. I’ve been flattered that incoming students feel hopeful knowing that I was able to go to Sauder after being wait-listed so long. Some of my quieter friends have told me that me pushing myself outside my comfort zone and into growth has given them that tiny nudge to try something they never did before. I’m honoured that these blog posts can not only help me unpack my own ideas, but can at least add some entertainment value to other’s lives or plant positive seed of growth and self-discovery in someone’s mind.

None of us can possibly know what other people are saying about us or measure the legacy and impact we’re leaving, as much as I believe in adding value, I can’t base my worthiness on what value I think I’m adding to this world. 

To illustrate this point of how even small actions can cause huge impacts, here’s a video that Jeff, a friend way back from Chinese School sent me!

To bring it way back to the year I was in Cadets, “Impact not Intent”. I have to be aware of the impact you are making, but I can’t even measure it. So why am I solely basing my worthiness I can’t even measure or perceive? Am I inherently worthless if I grow old and can’t work anymore?

To the economy, yes. But to myself?

I, and only I, am the one to determine how worthy I am. I have the power to decide if I am worthy, to thwart all external and even internal signs that tell me I’m not. Back to the self confidence, back to understanding my strengths and weaknesses.

Angela, I give myself permission to be confident because I deem that I am worthy.

The power of self narrative is really highlighted in a book I never finished but should really get back into. The story of Viktor Frankl, and how he survived Nazi internment camps.

But because of our unique human endowments, we can write new programs for ourselves totally apart from our instincts and training.

Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

That’s a quote and thought I want to leave with you.

I have given myself permission to be confident, now I can start writing myself a program that is apart from my internalized instincts and internalized conditioning and training.

Thank you for accompanying me on this roller-coaster of self-discovery!

Learning to speak my mind.

Somewhere between three and eighteen, I lost my muscle memory of how to tell stories. Throughout my life, I’ve overcome fear, bungee jumped, dealt with negative self-talk… but I have yet to learn how to express them into stories out loud.

I know it is four months into twenty-seventeen, but this year’s focus is to improve my public speaking skills. I am joining Toastmasters and sitting multiple CUS committees. Because even when I have the courage and audacity to throw myself into speaking engagements; my mind and mouth falter.

For now, I will learn to be a bit more vulnerable on the internet. I will be editing this post shortly after I am finished my final exam to share these thoughts more in depth, but for now, I just wanted to put this thought out there.

The below content has been added on 4/29/2017.

The thing that spurred me to actively seek out Toastmasters was that I couldn’t present to my own board why I should have been on budget.

I’m very lucky to work with such a hardworking and informed Board of Directors. Listening to them explain their priorities for the year to the Dean, I really appreciated the diversity of their perspectives, some focused on the transfer students’ experience, others on incoming students, and still others on promotion of the CUS clubs, conferences and services. They’re also very fun people to be around; I’ve been able to bond with them over socials.

But standing in front of them with my other fellow board explaining why I wanted to be on budget committee? I was so nervous that I could not even come up with a 30-second explanation why I wanted to be on the committee. I am interested in Finance, worked with two clubs and saw the power a budget has to make and break an event. Did I mention any of that? No. I even mentioned that I didn’t personally have budget experience.

WHY am I sabotaging myself? I don’t know! I have no clue! I am frustrated and embarrassed even though that meeting was two weeks ago!

I’m hoping to unpack why I manage to sabotage myself whenever I have to promote myself and appear confident in front of my peers when I go to the Toastmasters meetings.

After getting to the root of the cause of my self-sabotage, I hope to rebuild it again. I don’t have a “nice happy ending” to this post, no tips and insight on how to speak my mind; not yet at least.

Quite fitting for a first post, wouldn’t you say?