I want to share with you this story- because I hope you would realise that even if your life is faced with obstacles, you always have free will to choose to overcome them, instead of blaming or surrendering to external circumstances.
My Chinese name is written in 燕 (Yin) 婷(Teing). 燕 means a swiftlet- a small bird that creates birdnest. The literal translation for 婷 is stop, with the accompanying 女 (indicating a female) in front of it.
Throughout the years, when I met with healers or even a fortune teller – the first question they will ask is: who gave you such a Chinese name? They all told me that nothing I want in life would come easy. I would face obstacles in everything that I want to do or accomplish. One explained to me that a swiftlet, like any bird was supposed to fly with wings and be free. But with a 婷 put behind it, the bird is stopped from flying. Nothing would come easy and I have to work hard for it.
It is known that Chinese placed a lot of emphasize on names- give the child the wrong name and you set the child a path of hardship.
But, in year 2008, a well-known name reader in Bangkok….who does not understand Chinese….also told me that from his calculations, my name is no good. Again, he told me that my life would be faced with lots of obstacles and nothing I’ve wanted would come easy. This is a very well respected man in Thailand because when his wife’s father passed away, the funeral (which I attended) was grand and attended by various state officials and high ranking monks.
He suggested that I should have my name changed- but unlike in Thailand where you can change your name as per your national registration up to 10 times, in Malaysia, the name follows you for life. Even if you add another name, you’ll still need to live with your original name as an alias.
With that information being told to me, I’ve had 2 choices- put my hands up in the sky and blame anything and everything except myself for all that’s wrong in my life. I did that for a large part of my life- and find that I got only more miserable. It does not solve anything- problems that are not solved never went away.
You see, when we attribute to our misfortunes and difficulties in life to an external factor, we give up control. It may be temporary relief to blame others but so long as we do not learn to own up, we are not able to grow. In life, we all eventually must learn to depend on our ownselves- we can have partners, spouse, family- but we must also be able to learn to stand firmly on our own 2 feet. Until we are stabilize ourselves, we cannot really form enriching and fulfilling relationships with others. We cannot go on clinging or depending to others- because after a while, people would feel drained and annoyed around us. A relationship, in order to last, must be a two-way, equally win-win situation.
It’s true, I need to work hard for many things in my life. I see many people look the other way on things and get away- but never me. I’ve tried but it always come back and bite me in the face. After a few times, I’ve learned to just deal with each issue when it comes instead of sweeping it under the carpet. Because it’s better to deal with an issue when it’s small than to have it explode on your face.
Along the way, the toughness of it all gradually gave me empathy- when I see others who are going through rough patches, I truly understand how they feel. There is no teacher like experience. Without experience, everything is just theory- and talking or writing about theories would not enable you to reach out to someone else’s heart. Looking back, it’s not that bad- without obstacles and challenges, I would not be who I am today.
My name would follow me through my life- and actually I’ve grown to love it (and hence I used back my own name as the domain). Even if I could go back to time, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything else. Hard or easy…time eventually passes.
If you are going through a tough time now, I sincerely hope that you know that even though things are tough for you now, there will always be a tomorrow. The strange thing about life is that it never hands you something that you cannot deal with. You may be presented with problems and challenges, but you’ll have what it takes to solve it. Therefore, please, please don’t give up.
Take it from the little swiftlet 燕 whose wings are clipped each time she tries to fly. She allowed her injured wings to heal and never gave up trying to flap them and try to break free. And fly she did and first slow and painful, then slowly she flew..and flew…till the next time she was stopped (婷)….and she does her best to figure out ways around it. Her life is like her name- but she’s doing okay and she had managed to fly to explore strange and beautiful places.