Developing your self-confidence and a healthy perception of yourself can already be hard enough as a young girl. Needless to say, growing up as an Asian women in an environment that is not always conducive to such ideas can be even more difficult.
Wendy Kim, a #1 international best-selling author, paid public speaker, and transformation coach shares her experience with her struggle between self confidence and cultural expectations in this issue. Being an Asian-American business woman and now entrepreneur and author, Wendy has faced multiple experiences that have shaken her confidence. In fact, when Wendy first started her business, she was questioned by a good friend who did not understand why Wendy would do such a thing if she already had a “good job.”
When this happened, Wendy couldn’t help but question her decision to start a business but she decided to follow her heart, “which is the basis of confidence – doing what you’re meant to do.” Funnily enough, a few years later that same friend is now one of her clients! Not only does confidence come from within, but cultural and societal pressures are constantly shifting and affecting our perception of self.
Like many of us, Wendy lived a lot of her life according to cultural expectations and would ask herself: “What would make my family proud? What should I do to honor my family?” For a long time, she went without asking herself what she actually wanted. Ultimately, while Wendy has a deep appreciation for her culture and the role it plays in her life, she acts on what she believes lines up with her purpose and desire to make a difference in the world.
For instance, she is a public speaker which is arguably a career that, according to societal expectations, most Asian women should not be good at. Despite this conflict, what matters more to Wendy than meeting expectations is making a difference with people. Wendy has also felt what may resonate with many people of colour: an individual must be “white” in order to be successful. However, over the past several years, she has realized that she has so much to offer as an Asian-American woman: “I have a unique and creative perspective coming from a different culture. In our culture, we’ve learned to be intuitive and really care for the needs of the group.
This is a huge asset in my business.”Alongside cultural and societal expectations, Asian-American women face so many more barriers that can prevent them from developing a healthy concept of self confidence. In response to this, Wendy shares what she believes to be the greatest barrier between young Asian-American women and the development of their own confidence:“Over pre-occupation with self and how you’re perceived. You can’t be confident by trying to be more confident. It’s about caring more about supporting others, making a difference and contribution than how you’re perceived. When you do that, you feel empowered and good about yourself.”
And despite what may appear on social media, everyone experiences days where their confidence is fleeting and they contemplate getting bangs in order to run away from their problems (c’mon, we’ve all been there). In order to combat those inevitable days, I believe that we should all have different practices that can help uplift us during those times.
For Wendy, she has a tight circle of friends that support each other tremendously: she always goes to them when she’s feeling done. As well, she gets support from her coach, which allows for a shift in perspective which is incredibly helpful during difficult times. Wendy focuses on how she can contribute to someone else’s day and doesn’t give too much weight to difficult, yet unavoidable things that happen. She follows her mantra of: “If I have a tough day, then it’s just a tough day. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I did something wrong.” Period.
Finally, Wendy shares some advice for young women trying to find their footing and confidence in a predominantly male discipline: “Invest in personal development. I would not be where I am today if I had not invested in coaching, like my Culture and Confidence Collective Program, a group coaching program where you can embrace the strengths from your culture, while getting support to grow in your confidence and ability to make an impact. Team up with other women in your area. Support each other.”And in regards to how one can find balance between going beyond blending in and staying true to oneself and culture, Wendy actually doesn’t believe that the two are mutually exclusive. You can be fulfilled personally, while embracing what you love about your culture.
Wendy’s mother actually didn’t fully understand the entrepreneurial/author journey she took at first, but one of the main reasons she did it was to honor her and her culture; to show the world that people from my background could make it in this industry. Wendy’s mom now understands more and is incredibly proud of her.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.