By Monica Ng
Social media is a great way to re-connect with people from the past. I was recently chatting with my elementary school classmate, Sharon through FB or IG (can’t remember which). Always the curious person – I love finding out what my classmates have been up to. Sharon told me that she was working hard to finish off her book since she had more time – thanks to COVID.
Me: It’s been great catching up with you. Time has really flown by since elementary school. But it sounds like you’ve been busy all these years – working, exercising, being a mom and most importantly – improving and trying to find your true self. You told me that you had time to reflect during this COVID pandemic and pushed yourself to finish your book titled “Finding Yourself and Accepting the Person You Find”. I’m proud of you for following through and self-publishing your first one. It’s actually quite a feat, as I read that only a small percentage of people who set out to write a book end up publishing it – so congratulations!
Since I’m working on my own novel, I know how much hard work and editing goes into the process. As my friend, Tony Wong, writer for the Toronto Star says about his deadlines, “If you can sleep on it, take a day off and come back to the work. It always pays to bake the goods a little more”. Basically, editing, removing yourself from your work and editing some more is key. It may be hard to believe, but I can still find typos in my manuscript though I’ve been at it for about 2 ½ years. That being said, life is busy enough for me with my regular day-to-day stuff – never mind trying to pursue a passion for writing and sharing on the side. What inspired you to write your book about the complicated world of dating and self-empowerment and what gave you that “final” push to complete your book?
Sharon: I noticed that I had recurring conversations with people about dating and self-empowerment. Often we beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel bad about the choices we’ve made. I’ve read many self-help books that I found inspiring and helpful, so I decided that I wanted to write one to help others in the same way. I wanted my book to be easy to absorb and relatable.
I think that many of us go through similar experiences in life, some of which are embarrassing to admit to – never mind hard to talk about. I think that some of my insights are if nothing else – something to reflect on. I’m sure there are people who are much more “together” than I am, but still there could be something in my book that can be helpful to them.
The final push toward the publication of my book was the desire to accomplish what I set out to do. The other part of the push was knowing that I was going beyond my comfort zone. Comfort is the death of ambition. From past experience, I know that it can take me some time to get there, but eventually I push past my fears and insecurities and just go for it. I acknowledge my fears and then ignore them.
Me: The main thing that stood out to me about your book is your honesty about your struggles to make it as a single mom and your bold attempt to navigate the murky waters of dating. In your book, you mention that by sharing your stories, you hope for others (especially women) to realize that there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel. What do you think is the most important message in your book?
Sharon: Truthfully, I think they are all important. But if I had to choose, I think the most important thing would be learning to love yourself. It’s about learning to talk to yourself kindly and with love. I think this attitude builds a strong foundation for everything else. We all make mistakes and we all do things that we wish we hadn’t, but it’s ok to forgive yourself . You just need to promise yourself that you won’t make the same mistake again and proceed with a new awareness.
And I also think it’s important, especially when things are bad, that even if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just keep doing what you’re doing and eventually the Universe will show you some dividends. Sometimes it may take a while for things to happen, but like most things in life, time and consistency will pay off.
Also, the reasons behind pushing yourself forward are also really important. It’s easy to let yourself spin out of control or get sucked into a negative mindset when you aren’t focused.
See? You tried to make me choose and still I couldn’t…lol.
Me: I’ve done my fair share of dating in my life, but if I learned nothing else from my past relationships – I believe that you should do whatever comes naturally to you. If you want to send a text message to a guy/gal you’re interested in – just do it. I don’t particularly agree that people need to filter what they say or the frequency of their messages. I think that in general, if a person is truly interested in you, they should be happy to hear from you and not be afraid of what you have to say. If that person isn’t mature enough to handle you, then they don’t deserve you. In your book, you discuss your fear of “looking like a crazy person” regarding checking out someone’s social media account when the relationship isn’t working out. By placing too much emphasis on what “not” to do in a relationship, do you think that you will drive yourself crazy instead of just looking crazy?
Sharon: I do what comes naturally, but I also observe the reaction I get from the other person when I am myself. We can choose the terms of the relationships that we have. I’m no dating expert, but I do know how taxing a bad relationship can be on your self-esteem. I’m not trying to say the other person is malicious, but as you get older, you know how you want to be treated and the kind of relationship that you want to have. For example, at some point you should get the hint that you’re not a priority in someone’s life if you’re constantly making plans with them and they’re always busy. People won’t tell you the truth most of the time, but they will show you the truth through their actions. Nobody owes anyone anything, but we owe it to ourselves to be aware of how our attempts at making a connection are received and choose whether or not we want to accept it. If you start to feel bad about yourself or have feelings of insecurity in a relationship, it’s important to evaluate the situation to determine if it’s worth the pursuit.
Me: Let’s chat about Chapter 3 – Positivity. I agree that a glass that is half-full is way more appealing than one that is half-empty.
In this chapter, you share five points:
- “Being positive is a choice.”
- “Rid yourself of negativity.”
- “If you don’t see the positive in a situation, look for it.”
- “Reinforce positivity in yourself.”
- “Share positivity with others.”
I think that these points are self-explanatory, however, what would you suggest to someone who feels “stuck” in their situation and can’t find anything positive about it?
Sharon: I remember what that feels like. When you feel like you have no way out. You don’t know what to do or how to move forward. What I have learned is that everything in life takes time, whether it be learning a new skill or talent, losing weight or finding a partner. Nothing happens overnight.
Thinking back to the time I felt really stuck and literally had no way out, I started taking steps towards getting myself “un-stuck”. You can have small victories until you’re ready to take the leap. For example, if you are trying to get out of a bad living situation, you can start taking steps towards your liberation by saving money, acquiring furniture or whatever little things you can do. I once heard on a YouTube video, “Do what you can with what you have available to you.” That just got stuck in my head. So really, we’re never ‘stuck’ – it’s a state of mind rather than a barrier. There is always something we can do. The challenge is taking actions toward the unknown. What I’ve learned is that change will happen when misery outweighs comfort. Sometimes we just need to be more proactive and take control of ourselves and our situation.
Me: In Chapter 5 – Setting Goals, you wrote “If you’re not happy with something do something to change it or accept it.” I definitely agree with you. I hear a lot of complaints from people about their lives, but some do nothing to change it. Basically, if you don’t plan to change, then you may as well accept your situation right? How do you think setting goals can help someone is this predicament and push them to make changes?
Sharon: Change can be difficult, and sometimes overwhelming. Setting goals can help remove those feelings because you’ve broken the end goal down into smaller, more manageable, and much less intimidating tasks. For example, wanting to lose 30 lbs. Right there, if you have no plan and no goals – where do you start? Breaking the goals down can help you reach them, like adjusting your eating habits, exercising more, exploring the idea of hiring a personal trainer, etc. These things may not be the same as losing 30 lbs, but will contribute toward your goal.
If you start taking consistent steps in the direction of where you want to go, you can feel good to be moving in that direction until you start to see results. I tried to lose weight for years, and nothing ever really worked until I started setting smaller goals. Evaluating all aspects of my life helped me to improve my diet, change my attitude, and develop a consistent routine in my life. The key is consistency and choosing to keep your promises to yourself.
Me: You explore the concept of self-love in Chapter 6. One suggestion that you have is to “talk to yourself like you would talk to someone that you love.” How do you think this slight shift can empower someone?
Sharon: It makes a world of difference because it’s rare that someone judges the people they love, as harshly as they judge themselves. Most of us don’t think about it, but the hurtful things we would never say to a friend, we don’t think twice about saying to ourselves.
At the end of the day, we are each stuck with ourselves forever. If you don’t like who you are, then maybe you should start working towards becoming who you want to be. Start speaking to yourself with encouragement instead. This would be a healthier and more productive approach. For example, instead of wasting time berating myself for a mistake, I’ll forgive myself for being human.
My body, mind and life are mine alone, so if I don’t like something about them – I have the power to make a change. Be happy with yourself and look at everything you have accomplished as well as what you’re capable of. That way you’ll treat yourself with love and respect. Learn to speak to yourself in a way that is self-soothing – just like how we teach our children to self-soothe.
Me: Now that you have one book under your belt, any plans for a follow-up book?
Sharon: I would like to. I have tried to keep myself busy this year and have other artistic endeavors that I’m working on right now, but it is definitely a possibility for the future. I’m still thinking about it and collecting content, but I will definitely let you know when I do.
Me: Sharon, thanks for your time and insight. I wish you the best of success with your book!
If you’re interested in supporting Sharon by purchasing her book, you can order online on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.