Go Find Myself

  “Vy!”  I hear an appealing voice coming from a blinding light. I realize I am standing in a forest surround by darkness. I start to feel frightened and anxious. “Vy,” the voice echoes throughout the hallway, getting louder and louder. Squinting toward the light, I see a narrow cave far off in the distance. I walk toward the blur with apprehension. The disembodied voice guides me to escape the forest by calling my name. Hearing my name empowers me to overcome my weakness by reminding me why people call me Vy.

          My home is very rustic with minimalist decoration, but in my heart, it is the coziest dwelling. However, I lived really far from the center of town in a very remote area. I had to go through the trouble of traveling to school daily when it was flooded. Because of my parents’ support, I was able to get to school safely. However, they also wanted me live independently. My parents taught me to get on the bus home in case I ever needed to go without their help, but I always lived under their observation. On that way, they controlled my life so carefully that I was rarely out of their sight. I was raised under my parents’ careful supervision, but my parents never spoiled me. My childhood was very different from other children when my parents wanted me to mature and become independent at a very young age. Along with learning the bus route home, they also taught me how to make my own breakfast and many other things. Therefore, living under my parent’s control and learning how to grow up independently helped me stand on my own.

          Having to live self-sufficiently made me overwhelmed with dread. I remembered vividly it was early in the morning on a chilly day, during break time. My friends and I were standing and talking to each other.. I saw three or four girls running forward to one of my friends named Huong. They were hitting Huong across the head and shoulders. My friends and I were standing next to Huong, but none of us intervened to stop the fighting. My friends got emotional because they couldn’t help her. I also started shaking, and my feet were frozen. However, I tried to recover my calm to overcome my phobia of violence. My hand started to reach for Huong’s clothing to pull her out of this terrible scene. Sadly, my fright prevented me from acting; my hands couldn’t even move to grasp Huong’s clothing. Then I heard that Huong was calling me with a brittle voice, “Vy, Vy help me.” It empowered me to find my reserve again. I realized that being afraid couldn’t help my friends, and I was able to solve the problem. Based on my upbringing, I learned to be independent at a young age and therefore, I needed to stand up for my friends by myself. One more time, I decided to help Huong, so I ran to call our supervisor. While we waited for her to come I drug  Huong from the chaotic fighting.

          Growing up with authoritarian parents made me overcome my shyness. Although, it also made me feel vulnerable and lonely. In my memory of my childhood, my mom always controlled my freedom seriously, so she never allowed me to spend time with my friends. It put distance between my friends and I when I refused their invitations multiple times.

           Day by day, I went to school and heard the exciting stories from my friends. I listened to them and giggled with them. Though, in truth, I never understand their stories wholly, and I couldn’t join in on their conversations. It made me feel like everything was fanciful and ‪imaginary when I knew the story didn’t relate to me. I started to feel that I was isolated because in verity I was not a part of these stories, this conversation, and community. I released myself from community at school because in my thoughts, it was the only way to defend me from thinking about how much it hurt that I couldn’t really be friends with them. In that way, I liked to limit my communication with other people and became an isolated person.  

        Not having close relationships with the community in my daily life made me feel bleak. When I was fifteen years old, I recognized what I really wanted in my future which caused me to start to loath the life that was under my parents authoritarianism. It pinched my freedom in my whole childhood. It was awful living without having any best friends. Then an idea came into my mind that I wanted to change my life, and during this time, amazingly, my mom’s friend gave me a superb idea to study abroad. I decided to go to the United States to begin my new life where it was further than 13,000 kilometers from my home.

Obviously, a girl living far away from her parents at the age of fifteen would have adversity because she is without the help of her family. I was apprehensive the first time I came to United States. I got lost in the airport when I was there by myself. However, I was certain that I could conquer the challenges in my life because I grew up with my parents teaching me to become independent. Though I missed my flight at the airport, I figured out how to solve the problem.

        After a month of living in the United States, there were many arduous tasks that overcame my life. Language barriers hindered me from having close relationships with American people when I couldn’t speak English. I knew that communicating was the only way to improve my English and allow me to have more friends. It would also give me more opportunities to become a part of society. However, my introverted character prevented me from communicating with others. Having no communication with anyone also made it so I couldn’t develop English skills. It caused people to misunderstand my personality, so it was causing everyone to make jokes of my attempts to speak English.

        One day I went to school with an exhausted face because of my overwork the night before for a presentation. I was entering in the door and found my seat quickly to prepare for my speech as well. Then it was my turn, I was going to the broad and standing in the middle with ready to begin. I said aloud “I would like to introduce about my country with everyone today.” After ceasing this sentence I heard some giggling sound in the back of my class. I still continued my speech without paying any attention to this giggle. After class my teacher called my name and said sorry to me. She scolded them. A few days after at lunchtime in school, my Vietnamese friends accidentally told me about the reason people giggled. My friend said, “ Yes, sometimes I really hated them because they made fun of you.” I responded, “Really? When did they make fun of me? Why didn’t I know that?” Immediately my friend replied, “Do you remember the presentation you did a few days ago? They were giggling at you because your pronunciation was wrong.” I said sadly,  “Yes I heard it, but I thought they were talking to each other about something other than me.” Hearing it from my friend, it depressed me in that moment because I tried so hard to improve my English. Yet, they didn’t understand me. It made me become more shy when I was presenting in the class in the future.

        My classmates weren’t the only ones who abandoned me, sometimes my Vietnamese friends also made me sad. Being a shy person gave my friends the chance to tease me many times. Growing up under my parent’s supervision limited my communication with others, so sometimes I struggled when I didn’t know how to be an authentic friend. It made them misunderstand why I was melancholy. It was because of their taunting and also because I am naturally shy, not because I didn’t like them.

Once again, it put the distance between my friends and me because they misconstrued my personality. Normally, I woke up early and prepared for going to school. Hong woke up later, so she asked for help, “Could you turn on the straightener for me” with a hurried voice. I didn’t reply to her, but I still went to the bathroom and turned on the straightener with an uncomfortable feeling. It was fifth time in this week she asked for help. I was bothered because she asked for my help to much. She abused my kindness. Then I couldn’t endure her asking for my help anymore. I replied “why don’t you do it by yourself.” with a soft voice mixed with a bit of anger. She replied immediately “If you’re really my friend why won’t you help me. You’re self-centered.” Her sharp voice made my timid character rise up again. I couldn’t reply to her. Once again I did it for her everyday with an uncomfortable feeling because I couldn’t cross her.

           The apprehensiveness came back, and it made me lose my confidence when I communicated with people. Over and over again, my isolated character made me lose my dreams,  and I forgot the reason why I came here. Two months after that I stayed in my room, and didn’t make contact with anyone. My first years staying in United States were a nightmare.

           After one year of studying in America, I came back to Vietnam for an amazing vacation with my family. My mom realized that I had obstacles in making friends during our vacation, and I always tore away from other people, except my family.

        One late at night during vacation, I was ready to sleep when I heard a knock at the door.  Instantly I said with a ringing voice “Coming.” Suddenly the door was open. I saw in the doorway a gentle woman with a slender body and deeply black eyes entering. I knew that it was my mom. Then her voice became sweet, and she asked, “Are you okay Vy?” It was the first time I felt the warmth from her deep eyes. “Yes, I am good” with an uncertain sound. Then she said, “Don’t be apprehensive or cry because of the difficulties in your life because your fear would make you lose your dreams,  your courage, your confidence, and yourself. You should accept the truth and face difficulties with all of your ability. That was only way that you can overcome your weakness.” She gently took her hand and rubed my head. My mom said, “Have you ever ask why I named you, Vy?” I dropped my gaze to my hands searching for the perfect answer, but I really didn’t know. My mom smiled and answered, “ we named you Vy because we wanted you to become a gentle girl, but also having fierceness inside, so you can overcome anything in your life.” At this moment I instantly understood what the meaning of my name was and why people call me it. I realized what I needed to do for the next year when I come back to the United States.

           Vy is my real name which people call me daily. Vy means a “climbing rose flower” and it represents that which is bashful and tender. A flower is fragile and pure, but never surrenders. This was my parents’ hope when they named me Vy. They wanted to raise me in the contaminated society while still keeping me untarnished and pure to myself, a girl with a gentle and beautiful appearance, but whose inner self is both forceful and full of vitality. That is the meaning of my name and represents my personality today.


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