I’m baaaack, did ya miss me? I apologize for the radio silence on my end last week, but work has been crazy and I just needed a mental break. But, today I’m excited to share a post near and dear to my heart, talking about life lessons I learned while visiting Vietnam and sharing the prettiest blue bell sleeve blouse.
Family is Everything
I’ll be honest when I say that I sometimes get offended/annoyed when people complain about family time. For example, when people joke about hating spending time with their family during the holidays. Look, to each his own and everyones family situation is different. But, I think it’s important to remember that they may drive you up the wall, but it’s pretty amazing having a group of people that love you unconditionally.
I literally have to travel halfway across the world on two planes and a long drive for a full 24 hours just to see my family. And the reality is, I’m only able to see them every other year, which is honestly really hard to grasp. My grandmother is getting older and when I first saw her, she didn’t recognize my mom or I. It broke my heart. So the next time your mom or aunt or cousin or grandparent is driving you crazy, just remember at least you can spend time with them and they are a part of your everyday life because not everyone has that privilege. I talked more about perspective on family and how it changed after my Vietnam trip in this post if you would like to read more!
There’s More to Life than Material Items
Before I left for my trip, I went on a massive shopping spree because I insisted I NEEDED a whole new wardrobe for this trip. I can admit that I was such a little brat about it. I couldn’t care less that we were about to travel and didn’t see why I needed to save, I just cared about myself. After arriving in Vietnam for a few days, I was giving away things and pretty much giving them the clothes off my back. It was just amazing to see how happy and grateful they were when receiving a striped shirt or a pair of sunglasses. I remembered going to church with one of my aunts and her heel was broken, but she continuously wore them since they were her church shoes and she found humor in it.
I honestly think that this is hard to relate to unless you come from an immigrant family, but please hear me out. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the sales and new arrivals and feeling like you need every last thing your heart desires. But, it’s incredibly humbling to see your family get excited about a striped shirt and not wear anything new because they want to save it and meanwhile I’m over here like, yes I do in fact need this striped shirt to add to my collection of 20. I can admit that as an only child, it’s easy for me to be selfish and only think about myself. But nowadays, I try to be more conscious of my purchases. I may not be able to keep up with other bloggers or buy all the newest things, but instead I can save money and put that towards my next trip and towards stuff that will benefit my family.
Experiences Over Material Items
And while we are on the topic of saving money… let’s talk experiences over material items. I’ll be honest that I’ve always been a material kind of gal. I love my luxury handbags and if you ask me if I would rather go on vacation or get a Gucci bag, well guess who just got herself a new bag. The way I looked at it, I will always have this bag, but I won’t always be on vacation. If you agree with me then lemme tell you, we are very, very wrong. I strongly believe that traveling is so good for your mental health. It’s truly such a recharge and you come back to your day to day life feeling refreshed and almost like a new person.
You guys know that last summer I quit my job and went through a really hard time that included depression and anxiety, which I still fight. Even when I started my new job and thought I was happy, I still had these bitter and angry feelings towards my past employers, but after my trip, it kind of put life into perspective for me. The point is, you could buy whatever you want, but it’s not going to give you new experiences, a new perspective, a chance to explore new cultures and surroundings. You won’t grow from it and it’ll probably just give you instant gratification that will wear off over time. So put those shoes back and book your next trip. If you take a trip and I’m wrong, I’ll buy you those shoes. (Not really lol, but I’m that confident about this)
First World Problems is Actually a Real Thing
I’m guilty of this, but have you ever said “oh my god, I’m starving” and it’s funnier when it’s said an hour after lunch. Or have you ever complained, been embarrassed or shamed for having an iPhone 5 when four new iPhones have already been released? Or even better yet, is your closet overflowing, but you constantly say “I literally have nothing to wear”? I’m guilty of all of the above and never understood why people took “first world problems” so seriously when it was always kind of a joke to me. One day during my trip, my family and I went around to meet and talk to the neighbors. We created goodie bags for each of them that included a toothbrush, toothpaste, medicated oil, lipstick and a few other small things. What seemed like nothing to us was everything to them. I was seriously amazed how happy and grateful everyone was. I even went to visit a family member whose house was literally a one room shack that looked like a small gust of wind could blow over. And we found out that she had sold her hair for a little bit of rice to eat.
Again, it just really put life into perspective for me. I get upset daily about my morning commute and having to deal with that crowd, about how social media sucks and it’s hard to keep up and stand out, honestly I get upset when I wake up and it’s raining! But, at the end of the day, I have a great job, a roof over my head, food on my plate and the means to survive while there are people out there who are worrying where their next meal is coming from. So I just think it’s important to see the big picture and realize that not everything is worth getting upset over and even when you are really down, just realize that someone out there is going through something worse and if they can keep pushing on, so can you.
The Importance of Being in the Moment
Imagine my surprise when I walked into AT&T to inquire about an international plan for a month only to realize that Vietnam wasn’t covered so even if I signed up, I wouldn’t have signal. Now imagine, the breakdown I had after that. I even almost rented a device that was like $200 and it was portable wifi system, but no guarantee that it would work. My dream of being an amazing travel blogger who documented every moment of my trip went down the drain. I mean, how silly do I sound?? While I did have wifi over there and was able to instagram a few photos, I can not tell you how amazing it felt to disconnect from the world. I’m a true introvert so my phone is always attached to my hand especially in social situations. So it was nice to not have that safety net and instead just look up and look around. I was able to enjoy quality time with my family, be present in the moment, take in all of my surroundings and just take a step back. Even now, there are some weekends where I let my phone die and just leave it alone just to disconnect from the word and recharge.
Appreciating the Moment
Vietnam is hot, sticky and humid. The indoor plumbing is a joke. When we did visit a public restroom, I almost had a panic attack when it was nothing but a hole in the ground. I had mosquito bites everywhere. Being from NYC, I’m used to having access to all different types of foods, but being in Vietnam there’s nothing but Vietnamese food 24/7. Which I love, but one day in particular i really wanted a Shake Shack burger. The traffic is insane and scary since street lights, signs and lanes don’t mean anything. And with all of that being said, I would go back in a heartbeat and embrace it all. Traveling with most of my American family and being surrounded by my Vietnamese family, there was bound to be times where we would butt heads. But, I made a promise to myself that regardless of how irritated or agitated I got, I would appreciate the moment and the experience. I would not once say I want to go home or that I’m looking forward to going home because I knew once I was home I would miss it so much. And I think this is just a great lesson for life. You can never go back, you can only live in the moment and then move forward so why not appreciate where you are now, what you’re doing now and who you are so you have no regrets.
There’s a Whole New World Outside of Your Little Bubble
We all live in our own little bubble. We have our routine, our family and friends, our job, things we like to do and our own priorities and concerns. It’s easy to stay inside and be comfortable in your own bubble. But, there is truly a whole world outside of that. Prior to visiting Vietnam, I didn’t really give a second thought about my family over there. That sounds bad, but I hadn’t seen them in more than a decade so there was an obvious disconnect. After visiting, I was blown away by how much compassion and love they showed me and I saw not only their struggles and realities, but that of most people in the country. Now that I’m back home and in my own comforts, it would be easy to turn a blind eye and just live my day to day life, but after having such an amazing cultural and family experience and being exposed to so many new people and experiences, it’s hard to turn away. What I’m trying to say is there is so much more to life than sweating the small stuff and there is so much going on in the world. It’s important to just open your eyes and realize it. A Nordstrom sale, a trip to Drybar, a Sunday brunch while all amazing, are not the end of the world if you can’t partake in any of those activities. There is literally a whole other world out there and it’s truly amazing once you experience and realize it.
And there you have it, life lessons I learned while visiting Vietnam! I hope you guys enjoyed this post, while I was writing it, I didn’t know if it would be too “deep” or not relatable, but I learned so much while I was away and I wanted to share. Thank you all so much for reading.