When I was in first grade, there was an annoying kid named Michael. He was a bully with white skin and hazel eyes.

Interview with Elizabeth Su

Kate Anderson-Song Head Interviewer

Introduce yourself! 

Hi! I’m Elizabeth. I’m a writer, self-love evangelist, and founder of the popular newsletter Monday Vibes, which was named one of the “12 Newsletters Actually Worth Opening” by Zoella. I’m on a mission to change the narrative of what women have been told about success and happiness. 

I left my Silicon Valley career after getting really fucking tired of leaning in, pursued my master’s degree at Columbia University in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Spirituality and Mind-Body practices, and now spend my time teaching about emotional and spiritual wellness.

I love the sunshine, hate small talk, and my husband and I recently left New York City to become digital nomads. When I’m not writing (or trying to smash the patriarchy), you can find me dancing in the kitchen, binge-watching Schitt’s Creek, or reading the latest from my (s)hero Brené Brown. The redwoods are my happy place.

What is Monday Vibes

Monday Vibes is my newsletter! She’s like your Big Sis, who gives the best advice about the hardest stuff. New issues come out every month and cover topics from spirituality and mental health to career and relationships. There’s advice, self-care tips, book recommendations, fave wellness products, a community Spotify playlist, Get To Know Your Community spotlights (featuring real stories from Monday Vibes subscribers), the works! Really, it’s a space for women to be themselves. I find there are a lot of spaces for women to be their best selves. But not a lot of spaces for women to just be themselves – their messy, imperfect, emotional, not-put-together selves. We laugh, we cry, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we lift each other up. It’s a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll subscribe and join the party!

You mention how your newsletter blends your three areas of expertise: psychology, wellness, and business. How did you end up in these three areas?  

Honestly, it all happened by accident! Or I guess I should say, it’s been a non-linear journey. My undergraduate degree was in Quantitative Economics, so I started my career in business, making my way to the start-up world in Silicon Valley. 

I got really burned out and suffered big-time from anxiety, an eating disorder, PTSD, physical illness, workaholism, you name it and dove headfirst into healing myself. I found a therapist, became a yoga teacher, got my life coaching certification, and fell in love with holistic wellness. 

I then decided I would be the happiest girl in the world if I could make a career out of working in the personal growth space, so that’s when I went to get my master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia, where I studied burnout and perfectionism in women. 

Thus, when it came time to launch Monday Vibes—and in an effort to embrace my WHOLE self—I decided it would be a newsletter that would combine all my wisdom and experiences from over the years!

You offer a number of services, such as speaking engagements, consultations, workshops, and courses. How did you start this work, and where do you find inspiration for these programs?  

Trial and error! I’m only half-joking. I think the biggest myth in entrepreneurship is that you have a “plan” and know exactly what you are doing at any given moment. I certainly didn’t, and still don’t. 

What I do know is you need to listen, observe, and be willing to fall flat on your face. Especially in the first few years of being an entrepreneur, I tried a lot of different things. I failed and made mistakes. I pivoted and tried new things. 

I’m a big believer in finding the right energetic exchange, so many of the business decisions I made were in response to finding a balance between giving and receiving. I like to think of the way I run my business as intuitive. Why would I keep doing something that no longer feels good just because I said I would? Giving myself permission to change my mind was one of the greatest gifts. 

You’ve worked in an array of fields and stepped into your own business while merging these expertises. How has your Asian identity influenced you, contributed, or been apparent through your career and in these different fields?   

Oh gosh, probably more than I’m even aware of. I’m mixed—my dad is second-generation Chinese, my mom is white—so sometimes it’s hard to tell which side of my family influences what. But both sides of the family highly valued education and hard work and instilled in me the idea that success is tied to your achievements. I worked my ass off trying to chase after this version of success, and it came at a huge price. I’ve spent years trying to un-learn this version of success – what psychologists call a contingent sense of self-worth – and figuring out how to feel happy and worthy without needing to reach a particular goal. 

I’m also certain that growing up in the Midwest, where there were very few people who looked like me, and in a family that more or less pretended we were white, impacted my self-worth and how I view myself. If we are on the path to learning how to love ourselves unconditionally, how is that possible to do fully when you’ve received messages since you were young that you should hide parts of who you are? That there is something scary or shameful about being proud of your ethnicity? It’s a trip, and I haven’t figured that one out yet.

How has this time of COVID-19 affected you and your work? How have you been coping? 

The start of the pandemic hit me hard. My husband and I were living in New York City at the time, and I was overcome with anxiety and grief. Simultaneously, I was experiencing a full-blown racial identity crisis and found myself in a very dark place. We ended up deciding to become digital nomads, and since then, my mental health has greatly improved. 

2020 taught me that humans really are resilient beings and are more adaptable than we think. I’ve been coping by getting extra sleep, voicing my needs, and being gentle with myself when I feel like watching four hours of Outlander instead of responding to a million emails. 

What does self-care mean to you? How do you take care of yourself? 

I love this question. To me, self-care is anything that nurtures my spirit and allows me to reach a greater place of ease. This might look like a cozy bath. But this also might look like breaking up with a friend. Self-care can take a lot of different forms, but I think it’s ultimately whatever is in service to your needs at any particular moment. 

Here are some rapid-fire questions: 

Your go-to coffee shop order? 

(Spicy) Chai latte!

Favorite color? 

Coral pink.

Any good films/tv shows you’re watching right now? 

I’m finally watching Fresh Off the Boat and am loving all the 90’s references.

Ultimate comfort food?

Tong Yun (warm glutinous rice balls filled with black sesame paste) or PB & J. Is that the most Asian-American answer or what?!

What has been the highlight of your day today? 

I recently reached out for help—something that feels really uncomfortable to me—and I have to be honest, it feels so damn good to be supported. Such a sweet reminder that we are not meant to do life alone!

What is next for you? 

I wrote a book! And am now seeking a literary agent to find a good home for it. It’s about perfectionism and blends my own experiences with feeling worthy with my research from grad school on burnout and perfectionism in women. I can’t wait for this baby to get out into the world, share my voice in a new way, and connect with other readers who are walking this path alongside me. 

Elizabeth Su, MA, is a writer, perfectionism expert, and the founder of Monday Vibes (elizabethsu.com), a female-focused newsletter named one of the “12 Newsletters Actually Worth Opening” by Zoella that supports mental health and wellbeing. She’s on a mission to change the narratives that women have been told about success and happiness.

She left a six-figure salary at a hot Silicon Valley start-up because she realized she was trying to win a game she didn’t want to play. She has since dedicated her career to empowering women, teaching about emotional and spiritual wellness, and changing the rules of the game. Currently, she’s working on finishing her first book and is searching for a literary agent.

Social profiles: 

Instagram: @heyelizabethsu

Website: www.elizabethsu.com

Head Interviewer

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.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

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.

We hope you’ll join us.

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