My MBTI test told me that I’m an ISTP, the mehanic. Which is apt. I love crafting and I love problem solving. A extra bonus point of sewing as a hobby is that I now belong to a predominantly female community that is so focused on supporting others and building other women up.
I have always had a hard time setting boundaries. I would always feel bad when other people slight me, then question myself and my own sanity, then rationalize such hurt. They must have their reasons, I thought. You are overreacting, I thought. Stop being so sensitive, I thought. Because of this, I have always been the type to be gaslighted into compromising my boundaries, which had done a number on my mental health. At the worst point of my last relationship, I weighted 39kg. This is why I dont date, and even when I do I dont feel comfortable committing knowing what is waiting down the road. I also have a tendency to let emotions bottled up, so crafting also became sort of my stress release outlet.
So that day, not being able to download a sewing pattern nearly pushed me over the edge. I was having a bad day and was only looking forward to stay in, sewing. So when my pattern download link didn’t work, I sent some angry emails to the pattern company, Closet Case Pattern, knowing it was Saturday and they will not reply until Monday, and then wrote a short post on the sewing community on reddit. My post was probably filled with frustration, that another redditor messaged me privately and let me download her pattern for free. When Monday came, the Closet Case representative easily solved my issue and sent me a lovely message about having lived in Hanoi for 5 years. I certainly am not used to strangers being so nice on the internet!
I will be honest, I went through a ‘not like other girls’ phase in my teen. With my clothes all grey, loomy and baggy, with no makeup, I sure put a lot of emphasis on not looking and behaving like ‘other girls’, or a girl at all. I invested in my male friendships. But growing up had made me question all of it – I actually hate the colors back and grey. I hate jeans, I love my pretty dresses and everything pink. The millenium pink trend made me so happy. And so far, my female friendships are the ones that last.
Living in a patriarchal society had certainly made me feel left out as a girl. The way society as a whole was ridiculing everything teen girls targeted – Justin Bieber, boy bands, Twillight etc was brutal, and I had witnessed enough cattiness growing up. So I looked up to the male society and really started to wish that I could belong there. The quickest way to achieve this was joining them in making fun of stereotypical behaviours of my gender, in hope that one day men would recognize me as one of their own. I aspired to be a manic pixie girl.
But a girl can never achieve such feat. I couldnt achieve such feat. I soon realize that my ‘not like other girls’ persona was a mask, and deep down, I AM ONE OF THE OTHER GIRLS. I am a stereotypical feminine girl. And there is nothing wrong with that. Being one of those girls is so empowering.
I have never been a very public person, so my habit of suppressing feelings fits right in. But turned out, talking feels great. Sharing is empowering. Having a safe space and the support of other women in my life, fortunately, foreign and vietnamese alike, has given me so much support and insights. I learnt to not only embrace my heritage but also be proud of it, and walk away from people who make me feel less than. At this point in my life, I no longer put up with disrespect and finally got the courage to stand up for what I feel is right. Being secured in a circle of supportive women had finally given me a backbone to say what needed to be said, and walk away from situations that I no longer feel comfortable in. Although I still struggle with compromising my boundaries, I dont necessarily continue to make excuses for the rain bearers in my life anymore. Whatever the relationship, I deserve to feel secured and not let others walk all over me. Turned out, it took a lot more strength to walk away than to stay. I would never have arrived here, without constant assurance from my fellow ladies, who made sure I know I am loved and appreciated, that I am a worthy person, and reaffirmed universal rules of boundaries.
Without going into too much details, this weekend was exhausting for me emotionally. I learnt some serious stuff about my own family, reconciled with my cultural heritage, and came to terms with my own boundaries in dating. It’s time to push forward, and this post should serve as a reminder of the fact that I am never alone.