I started to explore my identity as an Asian-Australian Woman almost two years ago. An identity that has been with me for most of my life. An identity that I’ve had a love-loathe relationship with.
In this present moment, I love it. I embrace it. I admire it. And I want to cultivate it.
My healthy feminine embodies expression, intuition, connection, colour, movement and nurturing qualities. In contrast, my healthy masculine embodies action, goal-setting, decisiveness, drive and stillness. When I am moving and being my full self, my masculine qualities provide an incredibly strong framework of striving and achieving while my feminine qualities connect and express using my intuition. It’s a remarkable team.
Growing up in the 80s & 90s in a small city as an Asian-Australian was challenging. From schoolyard bullying to trying to please my Asian parents with good grades. From trying to grasp who I was to setting a good example to my younger brother. Furthermore, I was determined to excel in sports and languages to prove to the world that I was an exceptional well-rounded individual.
Like many Asian-Australian teenagers of my generation (and those before), I completed my studies in one of four expected and acceptable fields – medicine, law, commerce and engineering. In my case, I chose to pursue Actuarial Studies (under the illusion that I was good at maths) and Commerce (in case I flunked the former – a wise decision for a 17 year-old as I scraped through the former and thrived in the latter).
Entering the field of banking after my graduate program overseas was an attempt to ‘do something’ with my degree. A move that gave me invaluable insights into this intriguing and mind-driven world. It was also a world where I first faced both the glass ceiling and the bamboo ceiling*. I tried to assimilate into this highly masculine and Caucasian world by wearing only pant-suits and even went as far as watching football on TV so that I had something useful to contribute on Monday mornings. I spoke with a heavy Australian accent. I tried to be heard and took a lot of energy and courage to speak up in meetings. All in all, I was suppressing my feminine qualities of expression, intuition and flow. And I was not speaking up when off-handed racist comments were made, while my anger and frustration bubbled inside.
It was a struggle to keep up this facade. It took all my energy to fit in and to perform at a level that I’d hoped would land me in promotions and acceptance (perceived or otherwise).
It took a major life event for me to realise that I was putting a lot of energy into a space that did not resonate with what I wanted. Which was to help others, to be creative and most importantly, to be my own genuine self.
So I quit.
I followed my university dreams of working in International Development. And I felt a big sense of relief. A sense of belonging. A sense of acceptance. I was appreciated and recognised for my corporate and analytical skills while unveiling my feminine qualities, little by little.
I have continued this path of bridging the Corporate and Community/University sectors. A vehicle that embraces my healthy feminine and masculine qualities to bring people together to solve societal challenges.
I want to help future generations of Asian-Australian women in their 20s and 30s embrace their unique mix of inherent cultural traits and feminine qualities to live a life that is genuine and honest to them. A life that resonates with their calling and to move forward in a world of external expectations, noise and materialism.
This is why I have created this space. I hope this will provide my fellow readers with useful tools and a knowing that there is someone here to walk with them on this colourful path called ‘life’.
*Bamboo ceiling refers to the barriers that exclude ethnic Asians from executive positions on the basis of subjective factors such as “lack of leadership potential” and “lack of communication skills” that cannot actually be explained by job performance or qualifications.
Image by Shardey Olynyk Photography