“How do I do it,” I said, as I try to place my debit card in an ATM machine in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Looking at the foreign keys on the screen left me feeling confused and dazed. I asked my female colleague, “Can you do it for me?” “You can do it,” she stated simply, almost abruptly, yet still in a supportive tone. Reluctantly, I placed my card into the card reader and fumbled through the transaction. I did it! I retrieved my funds. But why did I feel so helpless? And why did I look to this older woman to handle the process for me? Well, it took experiences like these throughout my twenties to truly find confidence in getting things done for myself. However, it all begins with a bit of reflection.
I’ve always been the youngest and the only boy in a household of women. I have two older sisters and we are all eight years a part. Growing up, I’ve always been able to look to them for guidance or support in every day tasks. It wasn’t until college that I felt free to develop security in myself and find a bit more bravery in becoming the person I wanted to be. However, this journey was not easy (still isn’t). Honestly, I have always seen myself as different from my siblings. Our general interests, me being the only male and identifying with non-binary ideals on sexuality are different.
Still, due to me always having older sisters, this lead me to always see older people, particularly women as my siblings. I have always felt like I could confide in them and “argue and make-up.” Surely, they will always “have my back.” Well, this is the wrong notion to consistently have in the workplace where there is competition and people with different life stories. I learned this while interning in Ho Chi Minh that summer. I had a disagreement with a colleague (not the woman who helped me with the ATM) and I thought we were able to reconcile and still “be friends,” but shortly after the internship was over, she had deleted me off Facebook and told another colleague a couple years later “we didn’t see eye-to-eye.” This was interesting. In my mind, we had made up. It was just a sibling misunderstanding; however, it was truly an irreconcilable ordeal. It was surprising to me because, in the past, I could easily feel connected with people. I knew that she was an only child, she was ambitious and she was constantly searching for something. How could my “sister”disconnect when we had shared such stories? Easy. Different perspectives.
Nonetheless, that summer in Ho Chi Minh, I learned a lot about independence. I learned that there are various perspectives. We sometimes don’t learn how we view the world, until we see the world. I’m thankful for that lesson.
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