Episode 4

full
Published on:

3rd Sep 2023

S1:E4 I Am Enough

Do you struggle with feeling "not enough"? Here's my story on how I finally overcame imposter syndrome and realized I was "approved already." It was the beginning of my transformation from Zero to Hero.

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[00:00] Teaser

[00:45] Episode 4 Inro

[01:52] Admitting defeat and failure

[04:00] A Decision: The Beginning of Hope

[04:50] Awakening

[05:40] The End of Comparison

[06:32] The Discovery of Clara the Criticizer

[07:40] An "Accidental" Career Leap

[10:16] I Even Negotiated My Salary!

[11:26] Crisis in Confidence

[12:58] How to Get Out of the Bamboo Jungle

[13:32] BREAK

[14:07] Medical leave as the ticket to relax

[14:49] Measuring ourselves by our accomplishments

[15:57] Re-defining Success

[16:29] Binging shows and Candy Crush

[17:16] Re-discovering music and art

[21:15] Re-discovering me and finally living again

[21:40] THE Vegas Trip

[22:50] Why Asians are all Foodies

[24:19] Unlearning Asian parenting tactics

[24:35] Checking off my bucket list

[26:37] Transforming Anger to Joy

[27:57] Getting the Shame Monkey off my back

[28:47] Learning to ask for help; oh my!

[29:34] "Approved Already!"

[30:23] The Key to Freedom

[31:31] Treating yourself like a friend

[33:13] Confidence is the beginning of everything...

[35:19] Preview of Episode 5

[36:45] Looking for a coach? Book a Confidence Igniter call with Jeanny

Theme Song: Imagine by Zoo

Mid-roll Song: Making Progress by Dan Phillipson

Post-roll Song: Clarity by Zoo

Transcript
::

[00:00:27] Finally acknowledging that my life was not together and I could no longer fake it till I make it finally feeling those feelings gave me a sense of hope.

[:

[00:01:03] In episode four, I share the secrets behind how a health crisis helped me transform and finally realize my real roadblock to self-confidence and success. It might not be what you're expecting at all. I know I was pleasantly surprised at the turn of events. That finally broke the cycle of my people pleasing, achievement-based behavior that was destroying my health and my happiness.

[:

[00:01:52] One of my all time worst fears was to be sick and to be alone and I was going to have to face this. I was going to go through stage two breast cancer chemotherapy and I was going through a really painful divorce and I couldn't handle it anymore. So many of us try to keep it together.

[:

[00:02:42] I said, “I am so tired of being scared. I'm so tired of feeling helpless and hopeless. I am going to become angry instead.” I did that when I was 13 or 14 and it got me through. It got me through a lot of years of trauma, but you know what? It also numbed me out. It shut off all the fear, but it also shut off all the joy.

[:

[00:03:32] And I was angry, but also sad. In realizing that the first 40 years of my life, I had spent trying to please other people. I'd been living for my kids, living for my husband, living for my mom, and I was doing a terrible job of it, and I was angry. I was secretly angry. And that's probably what caused the cancer, because when you're under that much stress on a regular basis, your body can't handle that.

[:

[00:04:19] And I thought, what a horrible existence. And I made a decision to stop. And I made a decision that if I was going to be saved, I was going to live these next years for myself. And what I felt through all the tears and finally feeling that I was hitting rock bottom, finally acknowledging that my life was not together and I could no longer fake it till I make it finally feeling those feelings gave me a sense of hope.

[:

[00:04:53] And it was in the next weeks that I began to do things I hadn't done since I was a little girl. Instead of rushing and running to do errands all the time, I would take time, I bought a new iPhone at this time, I would take pictures of hummingbirds that were flying near the garden of where I lived. I would take time and watch people walking around at the store.

[:

[00:05:40] I stopped looking at Facebook. I No longer cared what my friends were up to and how much success they were achieving. I said, I just got to live. You know, I had my bag of 36 different prescription medications. I had a schedule to follow. I had this test and that test. I just had to make sure to take care of me.

[:

[00:06:32] You still haven't done anything with your career. You still haven't made use of your Stanford education. All you've done is now you're a failed wife, and you're a bad mom, and you're a failed daughter, and you still haven't accomplished anything in your life. And for the first time in my life, I realized, hey, this voice is not me.

[:

[00:07:18] This was my first epiphany. That I had a 24 7 criticizer going in my head. I knew this because I would have stress dreams. I'd be gritting my teeth at night. My dentist knew that I was grinding my teeth. I'd wake up tired and stressed out because I had a dream that was so traumatic. I didn't remember what.

[:

[00:08:08] Now, old Jeanny would have laughed out loud and said, I have a biology degree. I don't know anything about supply chain. I don't think so. But the new Jeanny was on to Clara and said, you know, the recruiter can't be that stupid. If he thinks I'm good enough to apply, I should give it a shot. Now this new relaxed Jeannie was less hard on herself.

[:

[00:08:49] You stay here with the cookies and don't come in with me. So I went through probably three or four rounds of interviews. And the last one was with the C level exec himself. the head of the supply chain and I was a little bit nervous. He was famous, had written books, but you know what? Since Clara the Criticizer stayed in the car, my natural personality came out.

[:

[00:09:45] I accepted all those feelings and now I realized I didn't have to and I realized that all that criticism wasn't benefiting anyone and it wasn't even true. I started to realize I had been my own worst bully by comparing and continuing to add new ceilings to my life. I realized that Clara the Criticizer always had more ceilings for me to scale and I was no longer going to listen to her.

[:

[00:10:40] And now, when the new Jeanny is here, this time my confidence had increased because I left Clara in the car. And with my confidence increased, I was able to ask for my value. I asked for almost a salary. That was double what my own salary was at the previous company and they gave it to me. And guess what? I didn't need more certifications.

[:

[00:11:26] We get the MBA. We get other Six Sigma certifications, all kinds of new skills, but is our confidence being boosted? What if our real problem is not competence, but that all of us have a crisis of confidence? Many Asian Teenagers graduate from high school with a lot of skill and a lot of success in different subjects and different areas.

[:

[00:12:31] And so is it any wonder that many of us carry this sense of shame, this sense of needing to prove yourself, all the way into our careers. And we think the issue is the bamboo ceiling, because when we get there, we struggle with confidence. And confidence is what is needed to get us to the next level. But the reality is we have had ceiling after ceiling after ceiling ever since we were born.

[:

[00:12:58] I've said in episode one, second segment, that one of the Asian norms that gets in our way is self criticism. And so I hope you're starting to realize that the way to not just break. Through the bamboo ceiling, but to really break out of the Asian bamboo jungle in which you are your own worst enemy, right?

[:

[00:13:32] Before we start the second half of this episode, if you're of Asian descent and you wanna discover what your personal biggest roadblock is to success, go ahead and take the free quiz at AsiansBreakingCeilings.com If you're liking this podcast, be sure to leave a review for me at Podchaser.com and then follow me on Instagram at Jeanny Chai so you can be notified whenever a new episode drops.

[:

[00:14:07] Many of the women that I talk to every week are working so hard that many of them confess and have told me it's a relief, honestly, when they get sick because now they have an excuse to take time off without feeling the guilt, without feeling like they're letting their team down. And I must say, honestly, when I was diagnosed with cancer and I had the six month time off from work in the recovery period, at first I was really antsy because, as you might have guessed, my identity came from not who I was in my relationships, but really over the years I had learned to do things to make myself feel good.

[:

[00:15:17] I have since then learned to redefine success. And I define it as whether I was allowed to be me and I was authentic and I took care of myself and cared about me. But back then it was all about doing, all about achievement. And so of course, if you have, you can imagine, and of course you can imagine when you're going through a health crisis like cancer, your body's going to shut down.

[:

[00:15:57] Because I wasn't working, I had to find things to do. I watched the entire two seasons of Dance Academy. And it was so much fun. And then I started in on Pretty Little Liars, which has something crazy like 14 different seasons. So I got through three and decided just to jump through the notes. But what really happened was as you are getting more and more treatment, the effects are cumulative. And I remember being so frustrated because I couldn't understand what the episode was doing. I couldn't follow things.

[:

[00:16:51] I was ashamed because I associate relaxation with laziness and I just felt really lazy. But here I am with cancer and I'm criticizing myself saying that I'm lazy. But the reality is was the reality was I did take my foot off the gas pedal for a bit. And as I said, after that first initial week of finally letting my emotions out, I actually began to enjoy life.

[:

[00:17:41] Actually, one of the first things I did when I knew I was going through treatment was I bought myself a piano. I loved playing piano as a child. I wasn't forced into taking lessons like so many of you. I wanted to play piano. My aunt, who I love very much, had taken care of me in Taiwan, and she was a piano teacher and an opera singer, and I think she played a lot of classical music for me when I was a child.

[:

[00:18:25] And I was so ecstatic. So I played piano for a good five or six years and I learned songs quickly because I knew exactly which songs I wanted to play. I love Chopin. I loved Rachmaninoff. I loved Liszt. I loved ABZ. And so I hadn't played piano very much since the birth of my first child in 1997. So the first thing I did was I said, I want a piano.

[:

[00:19:09] And one of the things my students would ask for entertainment, was saying, Mrs. Chai, can you please draw a horse? And I would draw this rectangle with four stick legs and it was so ugly, they would laugh. And so I always never tried drawing, didn't think I was good at it. And so in all these areas that I hadn't spent energy in, I began to take ownership again.

[:

[00:20:14] And so she said, how about we paint a beautiful little flower? And so she put on a white flower and then she gave me a little bling, a little diamond accent piece and I just stared at my fingers. I stared at my hands a lot and just felt great, felt like I'm proud of me. I'm worth it. No, I'm still worth something. And in the back of my mind, I was thinking my mother would not approve because this is so extravagant, you know, $35, $40 for a manicure where you could have bought your own container of nail polish down at the CVS for under $8 and I even posted it. I started posting on Facebook– little things about my journey and my mother saw it. And the first thing she wrote was, did you know that nail polish causes cancer? So I began to live in a different way where instead of living by fear, or lack, and worrying about how much money I was spending, I lived for enjoyment and I found it to be really fun.

[:

[00:21:40] But what was happening in my life was I was starting to appreciate myself. I was starting to let go of my inhibitions about having abundance. I began to like me. And then one of the most pivotal events that I believe really was the beginning of me breaking out of my imposter syndrome and scarcity mentality was when I worked for many startups in the past, there was a lot of tech conferences in Las Vegas and we would fly there early in the morning. I would fly there early in the morning, help set up, do all the work. And then when the booth was closed, I would rush to the airport and go home. I would take a late flight and go home. I would never stay overnight and play and use the company's money. And I thought that my loyalty, and my sacrifice would somehow get me noticed.

[:

[00:22:50] I have a theory about that. I think it's because we... Enjoy food so much because the rest of our lives are so stressful that food is one of the only things we enjoy. Anyway, I love to eat. So I went to Caesar's Palace and I stayed there at a room and I don't remember if it was three or four nights, but I just felt like a princess.

[:

[00:23:26] Because for the first time, I wasn't comparing myself anymore to all my college dorm mates. I wasn't looking at Facebook, comparing myself to who was doing better in their life than I was. I wasn't telling myself, "you're behind." I just wanted to enjoy and play. And I felt this spirit of hope and a spirit of freedom and joy that I hadn't had for years, not since I was four years old.

[:

[00:23:59] And so you see, I learned to advocate for myself. I learned to speak up, not because I took more classes or I, uh, suddenly was a different person with more skill. I changed my mindset, in my mind, I began to believe in myself and I encouraged myself.

[:

[00:24:35] So some of the things that I let myself do in the next year and a half, I'm going to share with you. I love singing. As a little girl in the basement of my home in Illinois, I would sing, even though I was scared of the dark and I was scared of basements. I would let myself sing down there because there's a nice echo and I would sing somewhere over the rainbow.

[:

[00:25:17] And without overthinking it, I found somebody who had just come back from Europe. And I said, can you help me prepare a song? I've never done anything like this. Song in choirs, but haven't had to sing an aria. Will you help me? And that's how I began taking lessons. And I actually, I passed the auditions and I began singing in this gorgeous.

[:

[00:25:59] And then when I did, after I did that, I got real brave.

[:

[00:26:37] One thing else that changed greatly in this time was I let go a lot of the anger. In my days, right before I got the cancer, I was super angry. I was angry at myself. I was angry at other people. I felt ashamed that I wasn't doing anything with my career. I felt like I was behind. I felt like a bad wife. I felt like a bad daughter. I felt like a bad everything. And I was angry that somehow, I felt like if there was a God in the universe, He hated me too, because it felt like my life wasn't working out.

[:

[00:27:28] And when you're like that, when you have a whole bunch of unprocessed emotions, I really encourage you to somehow face them. And what I was afraid of was if I faced that I would cry forever, and I would never stop, and I would just be in a funk. But the reality is, when I was diagnosed with cancer, as I shared, I let myself feel, I went to the beach every day, I let myself feel and cry, and let those emotions come, and it lasted only a week.

[:

[00:28:27] I felt like I was so good at taking care of other people, but if I got sick, I knew no one had my back. But that's the exact thing that happened to me. And ironically, that's the exact thing that I had to live through to help me overcome that fear. And so during those days, I remember running out of money because I didn't have a job.

[:

[00:29:10] I felt like I was part of a community that cared. And that anger that I had towards God, towards everybody, and feeling like no one cared or understood me, that feeling started to fade. And it was also during this time, I heard a really comforting message. And it was one of those days when I was half in and out of consciousness, trying to fight the pain and discomfort of going through chemotherapy.

[:

[00:29:54] And that was the beginning of my company, Bamboo Myth. I began to think, what if women realized that they could stop proving themselves, that they are already valuable and instead of living from fear, from guilt and shame and fear of getting in trouble. We live from a place of confidence, a place of value, a place of knowing who we are, knowing our worth and going and doing our thing.

[:

[00:30:43] It's about what you think of yourself. And if you think you are not enough, you are going to be not enough and nothing. Nobody can help you cross that line. And feeling like you finally have value and you are respected. Change starts with self respect. Change starts when you let go of the lies that keep telling you you're still not enough, you have to prove yourself, you have a gap, you're not very good yet.

[:

[00:31:31] What if your friend made that same mistake at work and they were beating themselves up, how would you feel? And their first comment is, I would feel really bad for her that she's so hard on herself. I go, right. And because you feel compassion for her, what would you tell her is the truth? And the client will say, "You're fine. You've done such amazing work. Everybody at the company thinks you're great. Don't overthink it and go do something fun and let yourself off the hook." Right?

[:

[00:32:29] And that's what I discovered during this amazing journey. Painful yet extremely transformational journey that I went through during those six months I was going through chemotherapy. And if I can bring that wisdom to you so that you don't have to go through the pain of that, that is what people learn oftentimes when they go through life death situations, is they get the confidence to finally live and be who they are.

[:

[00:33:13] We no longer tell ourselves that it's okay if we put off our dreams any longer. We start to live them. And that is the encouragement I want to give you. In addition to all the things I've talked about that I tried, I also did these things. I tried out for America's Got Talent and I got to see Simon Cowell.

[:

[00:34:00] I'm like, is that a good thing? But it felt so good to finally not care what people think, whether it's in the class or it's at school or at work or anywhere, because then you get to be free. And for the first time I thought I've never lived like this except back in the 1970s when I lived in Taiwan.

[:

[00:34:42] And if you were the authentic you, and you didn't criticize yourself, and you didn't call yourself lazy, what would you be letting yourself do in your life? What hobbies would you pick up again? What activities might you volunteer for? What might you take out of the closet and do again that you haven't done in 20, 30 years?

[:

[00:35:19] Okay. Ceiling breakers. That's the end of episode four and part two of my personal story and how I happened upon how to start breaking these norms that were no longer serving us. I hope that these insights from today's episode have helped you to come to closer understanding about what it is that you need to break through the bamboo ceiling, to overcome imposter syndrome, to relieve some of that stress and start experiencing authentic success.

[:

[00:36:13] I know it sounds too good to be true, but if you know exactly what it is that's broken and you go in there and fix it, it doesn't take a lifetime to undo cultural norms that are no longer serving you. So be sure that you listen to these episodes in order. Season one is meant to be systematic, incremental, step by step explanation of strategies and ways that you can start transforming without having to go through years of therapy or trial and error, or just trying to suck it up and hoping that things will get better.

[:

[00:37:07] And if not, you'll still get a lot of clarity and value from the call. So do that now, if you're ready to take the next step and not just try to make things better, but to start training to make things better and be sure to follow me on Instagram at Jeanny Chai and leave a review for me at Podchaser.com -thank you so much. And I'll see you next week.

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About the Podcast

Asians Breaking Ceilings
Building unapologetic confidence in AAPI women
Building unapologetic confidence in AAPI professionals

Through systematic training Jeanny, Founder of BambooMyth.com will outline step by step how to transform overwhelm and burnout to taking ownership of your leadership and career design. Tapping into her experience coaching over 300+ AAPI women and speaking at dozens of Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon, Uber, KPMG, Salesforce, and Cisco, she reveals the strategies needed to overcome ingrained cultural norms that have become a roadblock to greater success.

Many of us grew up with cultural norms like shaming, perfectionism, and filial piety that no longer serve us. We might look successful on the outside, but lack confidence to advocate for ourselves. We end up invisible and over-worked. That changes today. Jeanny will share with you how to finally unleash your confidence, how to speak up, and live your leadership potential in your career and life. Whether you want a promotion, new role, or the courage to start your side-hustle, you'll be empowered from within.

This podcast has been a decade in the making. It all started when I got Stage 2 breast cancer as a 40 year-old single mom and career woman. I had not 1, but 3 tumors and my doctor said it was stress-induced. She asked me why. I said, "I'm Asian." The amazing medical team saved my life and this was my wake-up call to start living differently. Over the next decade, I learned to stop burnout through managing self-doubt, constant guilt, and debilitating people-pleasing habits.

New episodes are released every Sunday night at 5pm Pacific. Most will be solo episodes with occasional guests and livestreams to include audience interactions.

Full Transcripts availble for every episode at AsiansBreakingCeilings.com

About your host

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Jeanny Chai

BambooMyth.com Founder, coach & speaker, Jeanny Chai helps Asian American women find their worth from within and “Live Their Leadership Potential” by reframing the cultural priorities that have been given to us. She believes that breaking through the Bamboo Ceiling is an internal quest and only by thinking differently that we can create a new norm. She has been invited to speak at companies including Salesforce, Oracle, KPMG, HP and has been featured in Fortune Magazine, NBC News, and USA Today.

Drawing from powerful personal experiences that include “shaming” her family by not attending medical school after graduating from Stanford, raising four children and becoming known as a successful business development professional in Silicon Valley, Jeanny has devoted herself to helping Asian Americans find their confidence from within.
It took Jeanny 3 breast cancer tumors and a divorce to come into the realization of how she could flourish, and she is dedicated to saving other women the pain of having to go through great adversity to reach the point of personal transformation.

Read more about Jeanny’s impact and work at www.BambooMyth.com