Nhi Le, 130 TESS


I have a confession to make. Well, perhaps it’s not so much of a confession but admittance.

I take myself too seriously. Okay, deep breath out. That was hard to say.

It may not be obvious to others (or maybe it is completely transparent and I think I am fooling everyone) but I am an over-thinker. I analyze, reanalyze, and then analyze what I have just reanalyzed. It’s a deep spiral that reaches past the depths of those YouTube binges where you were just looking up a new artist and then 3 hours later find yourself watching a video on 100 layer makeup challenges. Remember those? No? Well, clearly you spend your time more wisely than I do.

On most days, I consider my critical thinking and analysis a true asset. I am very good at picking apart situations (thanks, Classics degree!). I like to believe that I can see a situation, break it down, and make a quick decision about what to do or how I should react. Except when I have to order food or make a decision about wine. My indecisiveness drives everyone I know up the wall. Let’s just accept this about my personality.

So I find myself constantly thinking about things I’ve said, done, or how I should have reacted to things often. I get so inside my own mind that I forget to take a second and enjoy the moments. This past week I was in Bangkok for PSDN training and after a particularly emotional session full of difficult topics, I found myself drained. My head was spinning with thoughts like, “Was I too quiet? Am I the right person for this position? Do I advocate for others? Do I advocate for myself?” After an already exhausting 8 hours, I was draining myself even further with these less than confident building questions.

Casey suggested we go for a drink to decompress and we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful hotels in Bangkok just off the river called The Siam. The walk from the lobby to the outdoor pier was long and luxurious. The walls were white marble, foliage and flowers adorned the rooms, they had two small art galleries, and the most relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. We reached the pier just as the sun was setting, ordered our drinks, and settled into the moment. It was then that I realized I needed to take a step back from all of the stress I had been dealing with as a volunteer.

Let there be no illusions to this job. Being a volunteer is hard, whether you expected it to be or not. Everyone I have talked to wonders if they are doing anything right at their schools. Days are more often frustrating than satisfying and this can truly push you to the limits of your mental strength. This is a reminder that it is not selfish to take time for you. Foster your connections. Get out of your head. Treat yourself to that expensive meal or cocktail.

For an over-thinker, this is something that I struggle with constantly. It takes these gentle reminders from my friends and their encouragement to live in the moment. I need to take a step back from my self-importance and just breathe.


Read Nhi’s previous article Say My Name, Say My Name.

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