The Chain on Myself

When I was young my hair reached the back of my knee. I wore it in a bun at the back of my neck nearly every day. It was shaped like a doughnut within a doughnut, my hair was so long. From when I was very young I desired to have long hair. I thought it was beautiful. That and my mom wanted me to have long hair. In the old Chinese movies the female lead often had very long hair and flowing dresses. Although I could not understand a word they were saying, I felt that these characters were the epitome of femininity.

Chinese Ghost Story

Chinese Ghost Story

My hairstyle did not change from the age of 10 to 23. Every day I wore it up because the seats in school had fasteners on the chair where my hair would wound around and be stuck. It was quite painful. I also remember the natural movement of my head leaning forward or to right as I sat down so that I would have enough room to turn. As I twisted the hair around one could hear it whipping at the very ends and if one was unfortunate enough to be near me, it likely felt like a loose whip. Maybe a sting. I also remember running the brush through my hair, untangling the very ends and slowly moving up, as this was the best way to avoid a very painful nest at the tip. I wish I could have seen how it flowed from behind as I walked or when the wind picked it up. Or how my head would have looked with my hair all pulled back. Maybe the best scenario should have been me wearing those flowing dresses and in the moment, with my hair all adorned like the movies. But instead, it was mostly ignored for over a decade of my life. I still have trouble figuring out how to deal with my not so long hair. hair Even as I wonder at its quiet nature in my life, it felt like a chain holding me down to expectations that I could never fulfill. Those expectations of the good Hmong girl, of the perfect woman, of the perfect girlfriend. And now to see myself and to decide on what I should do with my hair, I feel liberated at the choice to cut or not to cut, the choice to change myself just slightly as my hair also changes, and with the move to throw out all those things which I needn’t hold.

10 Actions for my 30s

So, since becoming 32, I have read and nodded along with all the tips people receive or would tell their 20/30-year-old selves. I recently read one and it got me thinking about my future because I am in my 30s.

1. Save up for retirement. Recently I looked at my retirement plan for what I could save up and when I do save up. I will be living like a poor person even when I’m old. So that means, I gotta start saving up more, now. I have credit card debt and school loans still outstanding. And I gotta eat every day and pay for a roof. Even if I have a minimum wage job, I will try to save at least 15% of my income.

2. Be present and be there for my friends and family. I’ve spent my youth searching for something. School was always first. Friends were always first. Something else was just too important. But now that I have lived in the ‘real world’ I want to share my successes with my family. I want to celebrate with them. I want to see my nephews grow. I want to be there to help my mom shovel snow. So, no more of this flaky me who doesn’t show up for dinner or makes excuses. I’ll be there. Continue reading

I am a leader and I am not a fraud

How many times have you looked out at your staff and felt like a fraud? That you really don’t deserve that award or praise? Or that you are a fake and one day these people are going to find out?

I feel that way a lot of times. There is even a name for it, “impostor syndrome,” which is shared by the most successful women (and some men). There are lots of articles with solutions like this one here, here, and here. I think the best way is to write and say a manifesto aloud. So I’m going with Alexandra Franzen‘s life script below.

She has these awesome scripts to help her readers easily fill in the blank and ultimately makes them look internally.

My name is Mai Vang.

I’m a Curator, leader, and writer.

Ultimately, all of my work is about helping people experience the amazing world around them because no one should ever lose that sense of wonder that makes us better people.

That is what I do.

And I am not confused.