Caitlyn Tran is currently a business student at UC Riverside, on the way to graduate this spring. She loves reading self-help books and Harry Potter, watching sitcoms like FRIENDS or The Office, hanging out with friends, and trying new foods.
Losing myself for a year and finding her again
A year ago, you would have found me as a part of a team of officers at a student business organization trying to hold it together when the entire team was falling apart, a huge pressure on myself to gain an internship and all my value tied to my professional endeavors; not leaving time for myself because I didn’t really think that was important, and in a pretty toxic relationship in addition to all of that.
Then the quarantine came, and I was forced to physically remove myself from my toxic situation. I moved back to Orange County, with my mother, brother, and terrier mix Beanie.
During that time, I had a chance to ask myself why I was okay with someone treating me like my priorities weren’t important- who was demanding that I put the relationship above my friends, family time even- and was influencing me to disrespect the things that I love and am passionate about.
That was when I had my chance to break free.
As I spent my spring quarter in Orange County, when the commute time was shortened and I got to break up with my (now ex)- since it made it that much easier with the physical distance- I got to spend time with myself again.
I got to learn and know who Caitlyn is, what she loves and enjoys doing, her values, and how much value there is in her kindness, because not everyone reciprocates it.
The worst part about it all is that I felt like I broke the promise that I made to myself about never finding a person like my dad- never trusting a person who is immature and selfish- and I felt like I did just that. Growing up, my dad was pretty disrespectful to my mother, wasn’t there for me when I needed it- my uncle was the one that took me to get my drivers license and taught me how to ride a bike, who listened to my stories about boys and got to know my friends. (Eventually, my high school friends got to know him as “Uncle Ben”). After growing up without much support from my dad, I swore that I would always find friends who had different values- who were mature, supportive, and generous. On the outside, my ex seemed like that, but as time went on, it was very apparent that that was not the type of person he was. Out of all the emotions, I felt- hurt, vulnerable, anger- the strongest feeling was disappointment in myself.
Funnily enough, I found empowerment from recovering from that relationship. I learned that I was so heavily underestimating myself- from my talent, my skills, abilities, work ethic, drive- and being in that relationship showed me that I am a good person; I wake up every day and strive to be my best self and so does my family, and I deserve so much more than I was allowing myself to be; because not everyone has that same mindset toward life. I realized that some of the times that my ex put me down was because he was jealous and threatened by my potential, but I allowed myself to believe that he was doing things that I couldn’t do- he was so much more skilled at marketing, at photography, than I was because I didn’t know any of those skills at that time.
I couldn’t be more wrong.
Fast forward a year from then, I now own a camera, I’ve done product shots for my cousin’s macaron business, and am doing social media for a professional company.
The harder thing is not in what skills you have, but in developing character- and because I already have that down, I can do anything.
It just took a year of underestimating myself to realize that.
From now on, that’s my mindset toward life- I would never disrespect myself to that extent again- because I know myself, I know the things I enjoy and am set to do- I love photography, making videos, and doing marketing, and only people who value the same things I do (respecting yourself, prioritizing family and friends) get to be a part of my life! And of course, I learned to leave time for myself because- it’s very heavily repeated for a reason- self-love is everything!!!
So as tragic of an event that the stay-at-home order is, it was a huge blessing to my life. I hope that period has also given you time to heavily self-reflect and love yourself even more as well. Now, you can happily find me enjoying my senior year with a community that supports and celebrates my accomplishments, respects my values and boundaries, and helps me be a better me! It really all begins with the relationship you have with yourself.
More of Caitlyn