A Shy Introvert In An Extroverted World // My Ice Breaker Speech

I put myself on a scary journey but I know it’s going to pay off in the end.

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I’ve always wanted to be a better communicator. Throughout my life, I struggled to speak up because I was afraid of what others think of me and I have low self-confidence.

To stand out in this era, you need to be able to clearly express your thoughts, to think on your feet, and most importantly to be able to engage and influence others. Without these skills, you’ll face difficulties at networking events, job interviews or getting a promotion.

I first heard about Toastmasters at a dinner party 2 years ago. The guy I was talking to had great confidence and he never used “like”, “ah” or “uhm”. On most occasions, I’d start comparing myself to the stranger and think negatively about my ability to socialize (or give presentations). And what usually happens is I get overwhelmed with the negative thoughts and I start to stumble all over my sentences. I become the poor communicator that I wish to avoid.

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It’s rare that I feel at ease with a stranger but for some reason, I opened up to him. I told him my desire to get better at presenting and telling stories and he suggested that I join Toastmasters at the University of Melbourne. I asked him what a typical session at Toastmasters is like and he explained with enthusiasm:

  1. You’ll be called upon to speak about a random topic for 60-90 seconds without any preparation. [If you’re a guest, you can pass but if you’re a member you must do it]
  2. Experienced members will evaluate your performance and give you feedback. [In front of everyone]

and the list goes on.  I felt fear creeping into my brain and my interest gradually waned.

The thought of standing in front of a huge group of students (He said the club is VERY popular) talking about a random topic without any preparation is enough to make my brain go NO! NO! NO! NO! I not only have serious fear of public speaking but I’m also terrible at thinking on my feet. To sum things up, I’ll have a very unpleasant time at Toastmasters. So I took the easy way out. I listened to Fear, didn’t join the club and kept wishing I was a better speaker while I was an undergraduate.

Then something changed in me as 2017 comes to an end. I realized that nothing will change if I let Fear dictate me. I will never grow.

Plus the world doesn’t give a f**k if I’m an introvert or if I’m shy. If I can’t perform in this extroverted world, I lose.

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In September, I decided to challenge my good ol’ friend Fear. I went to a couple of Toastmasters meetings to gauge the atmosphere and it surprised me. The people there are so encouraging and helpful; it just feels like a safe place for me to fail. The other thing that motivated me to come back was the fact that most guests share my insecurities and I finally found myself saying thinking: “I’m not alone anymore“.

I’ve given two impromptu speeches (as a guest) so far and I did my first ice breaker speech (as an official Toastmasters member) last week. After the meeting, a few guests came up and told me they could really relate to my story and I was happy to hear that. When I wrote my speech, I didn’t want it to just be an introduction of myself but also to encourage other shy introverts to step up and take control of Fear.

Because why the hell not? Public speaking is scary but it didn’t kill me. Trust me, you’ll survive. 

*If you’re interested, read on to find out what my speech was about*

Mr Toastmaster, fellow members and guests, today I’d like to share my story on what is it like growing up as a shy introvert. First, you’ll get to a glimpse of my background, followed by short snippets of my life experiences as a shy introvert and finally I’ll end with techniques I use to cope in an extroverted world.

My name is Su Min Chan and I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The first two languages I was exposed to were English and Cantonese and once I started kindergarten, I became familiar with Mandarin and Malay as well. For some reason, my Mandarin skills never go beyond a 10 year old but my older brother and I could still speak the language if we want to discuss something we don’t want our parents to know. I spent my secondary school years in an all-girls government school and at 18, I pursued my International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma at the International School of KL before moving to Australia for my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Melbourne. Even though I majored in Psychology, I’ve decided to pursue a career in the fashion industry and I aim to become a part of the ethical fashion movement in the future.

For most of my life, I’ve been known as the shy and quiet one but that’s not always the case. When I was a young girl, I wouldn’t be the one to start a conversation during social outings or family gatherings. I prefer to sit in the corner and observe. Once things get boring, I’d start day-dreaming or make up random stories in my head. In middle school, I became less awkward at parties but I still wouldn’t speak in class. Due to my quiet and reserved nature, I tend to have a small but close group of friends. Much to their surprise, I can be pretty crazy and outgoing during our meetups. Our personalities occur on a spectrum. I’d say I belong somewhere between introversion and extroversion but I definitely show more characteristics of an introvert. 

I can get away with being a shy introvert when I was younger, but things started to change once I enter university. I was horrified when to find that tutorial are graded based on how much I contribute and presentations as well as group work are common throughout the semester. As an introvert, thinking on my feet is not my forte and I tend to focus and perform better on individual assignments. On top of all that, good leadership skills are highly regarded when applying for internships or a job. To fulfill society’s criteria for the best candidate, I volunteered to be the secretary of Melbourne University’s Tae Kwon Do club and a mentor to five international students for the student union. I may great at organizing events and providing guidance to a small group of people, but I’m not the best in convincing others to get involved in club competitions or events. Unfortunately for me, the ideal leader in today’s society is someone who is energetic, approachable and is able to influence a group of more than five. The situation may be more challenging for me but I want to work on being a better introverted leader so that I could guide those with similar difficulties.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone on most days means I experience more anxiety and stress but the following methods have helped me strive. When I’m socializing I make sure to take quick “breaks” in the bathroom. Stepping away from the crowd helps me recharge and gives me time to think about topics to talk about during the get-to-know-you-sessions. I also try to be gentle to myself when things don’t go smoothly. Setbacks and the feeling of incompetence are common but giving myself plenty of positive self-talk has helped me stay motivated. Finally, and perhaps the most crucial, I try to stop worrying about what others think of me. Once you’ve learned to let go of that, you start growing and all you feel is empowerment. These three countermeasures have not only helped me reduce stress and anxiety but they also gave me motivation to seek challenges.

I hope I’ve used this time well to introduce myself. For the shy introverts in this room, know that it’s never too late to start challenging yourself. I urge you to find ways to help you cope and you’d be surprised at who you can become!

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The {Other} Interestings sept

It’s been awhile since I shared some links with you peeps. Here are the lucky 8!

Hello everyone! I hope your week is going great! Today I’d like to share with you a couple of links to some interesting reads. As I was writing this, I realized that they’re mostly fashion and health related, so if you’re not a fan perhaps skip this one?

1.This isn’t news, technology is everywhere. But what I didn’t know was fashion empires running hackathons to inspire innovation. Find out why Conde Nast is doing it.

2. Curious about what sort of careers would be common in fashion 5 years from now? One of them probably has a 3D printer at home too.

3. If you like good quality shoes and you wish you have the power to design them, this site is for you. You’re welcome.

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Photo by Lee Aik Soon on Unsplash

4. City boys and gals, learn more about how you could protect your skin with Into The Gloss!

5. I’ve heard of returnable bras but returnable underwear?

6. Remember all those uncomfortable nights you’ve endured, is it because you’re lactose intolerant or is it an allergic reaction to milk? Self.com investigates.

7. When I was an undergraduate, I had fun analyzing advertisements and discovering its underlying meanings. Jonathan Jones from the Guardian uncovered something distant and dark in the recent fashion campaigns.

8. Just signed up for a marathon but you have no idea how to train for it? Fear not, realbuzz got you rookies covered with these 5 tips.

Any thoughts? Feel free to drop me a comment and enjoy the rest of your week!

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The Unrequited Love Poem [2]

I give and they take

my energy. It seems to be running dry as the years go by.

Yet, I wake up each morning and muster all that I have so I can keep giving.

I give and she takes. I was there for her and I walk upon the land of Melancholy for her.

These advice I keep giving.

Yet, all I get from her is a concoction of silence, indifference and annoyance.

I give and he takes

my hard earned money to invest; not in self-improvement but on entertainment.

I tried to teach him a lesson but he was in too deep. In the end, I could no longer give.

I stopped giving because

he took my life.

 

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Outside The Window [1]

I stirred a few times throughout the night and when I decided to wake up, it was already 9:06. I didn’t have the best sleep but I felt fine.

“Yesterday was a fun night.” I thought to myself. I know the next thing I did was to reach for my phone but I couldn’t remember what I looked at. Maybe I checked my e-mails? Maybe I just looked at the time? Mornings are usually a blur (but not always).

(Rosa was in the bathroom at the time.)

I made my way to the kitchen and filled my bottle with tap water. “Need to drink more fluids today.” I thought to myself. I turned and faced the balcony.

(It’s a gloomy day.)

As I raise the blinds in Rosa’s small bedroom window, her x-ray scans slowly reveal themselves. She thought it was cool to stick them to the window so when the light shines through, those present would be able to see the skeletons of her hand.

(I remember the photo Rosa took when she first put them up. I smiled at the memory.)

My gaze moved up to the unfrosted section of the window and took in the scene through the mesh screen. As usual, a concrete wall with vertical grooves stared back at me. The only difference is that the color of the wall changes with the weather and today it looked a few shades darker than usual.

(Light and human perception. I was fascinated by that topic when I was an undergraduate.)

I picked up my book from the cabinet and snuggled into Rosa’s bed, only to realize it was too dark to read without the lights. I was too comfortable to move so I reached long for my phone (I left it on the table) and rested in an awkward position (I had my elbows on the carpet and my lower body on the bed).

Just then Rosa walked into the bedroom, looked at me and started laughing. I put my phone away, returned to a sitting position and giggled. Rosa jumped in and we snuggled under her warm covers and talked for a while.

(After that we had our spontaneous morning reading session in bed.)

Outside the window, the concrete wall with vertical grooves remained in the shadows of the clouds. Nothing interesting really, but I’m glad that wasn’t the case with the books we were reading.

Featured image: Lynnie Zulu‘s Hiding All Away

This here is my attempt at creative writing in 2017. I used to do this quite often and I’ve forgotten how enjoyable (and challenging) it is. There are no strict rules. I just write whatever comes to mind when I look at the prompt words kindly prepared by thinkwritten.com.

P.S. The characters may or may not be real.

Let me know what you think!

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From The Runway // Shoe Style Inspiration

Mimi Wade FW 2017/18

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Source: Pinterest

Sneakers never seem to go out of style do they? That’s a good thing because a great pair can last you ages as well as keep you comfortable and stylish (that’s if you choose wisely).

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[GENERAL PANTS]

Old Skool Shoe Skyway $119.95

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[DIANA FERRARI]

Matador $49 (sale item)

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[CONVERSE]

One Star Vintage Suede Low Top Vintage (Khaki) $130

If I have to choose between heels and sneakers, I’ll go for the latter. I’m not one to put my feet through a hard time just to look presentable. Now that dress codes are less rigid, experiment by pairing your sneakers with outfits for all occasions. You’d be surprised by how well it works with a formal attire.

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Source: Wheretoget

Celine FW 2017/18

Although most would consider metallics a trend, it doesn’t have to be. Use fashion to represent your personal style and wear metallics whenever you feel like it and however you want it. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

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[ASOS]

Solo Kitten Heels $60

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[Vaux Shop]

Vintage 70s White Patent Pointed Kitten Heels $68 (USD)

For me, the right dose of metallics can give an edge to a simple ensemble and if you want to try the futuristic look, these shiny things could do no wrong.

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Source: Oystermag

Giada SS 2017

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Source: Pinterest

Besides sneakers, flats are also my favorite type of shoes. Some brands make incredibly comfortable ones and they can be dressed up or down depending on the design of the flats. The following suggestions are great for casual outings, weddings, corporate wear, just to name a few.

 

(clockwise from top)

[FSJ SHOES]

Red Flats Ankle Strap Pointed Toe Slingback Shoes $59.99

[SAKS FIFTH AVENUE]

Sienna Grommeted Suede Ankle-Strap Flats $103.20

[BILLINI]

Shilo Blush Microsuede $52.47

Pointed toe shoes are great for those who want to elongate their legs. And if you’re short, try pairing the color of your pants and shoes to create the illusion that you have long legs.

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Source: Pinterest

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Featured photo by Martino Pietropoli

Make Your Home A Better Place Now

This weekend’s post is about reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfill. Discover organizations such as TerraCycle and the RED Group as well as learn how you could recycle the “non-recyclables”.

 

I learned how to protect the environment through school and my parents. We recycle newspapers, magazines and we limit our use of plastic bags by storing reusable bags in the car. Our actions demonstrate that we care for the environment but I don’t think we’re doing much to save the environment at all.

Although my parents use recycling bags when running errands, they often come back from the wet market with more plastic bags. My mom collects glass jars and plastic containers and recycle them in the city but she throws away plastic packaging when she unpacks the groceries. Now do you think I’d do better than my parents? Unfortunately, no. Sometimes I accept plastic bags from vendors because I use them to line my trash bin. I also throw away plastic packaging when I unpack my groceries.

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My mom uses a tiffin carrier to store me and my brother’s breakfast. Source: Project Bly

A few months ago, I finally decided to do what I can to change my current habits in order to make my home a better place. The three categories I need to work on is recycling beauty products, oral care products and soft plastics the right way.

Think about how you’d normally dispose beauty, body care and oral care products? Do you put them into the regular recycling bin? If so, you need to stop doing that! According to the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA), we can only put the following items into the yellow recycling bin:

  • newspapers, paper, magazines
  • cardboard
  • glass bottles and jars
  • plastic containers (soft drinks, milk, ice cream, margarine and yogurt)
  • aluminium
  • steel cans

Why is that you say? Because the type of plastic used to create the tubes and containers for beauty, body care and oral care products are different. Hence, you need to recycle them through a different channel. If you live in Australia, you could do that through TerraCycle. TerraCycle collaborates with major consumer product companies, retailers, manufacturers and small business in 20 different countries to recycle coffee capsules, pens, plastic gloves and more. TerraCycle offers free recycling programs and solutions to make recycling a part of our lifestyle. All you have to do is sign up (it’s free), start collecting (from home, office or school), download the free shipping labels and send your waste to be recycled (you can opt to drop them off). Members are rewarded with TerraCycle points which they can redeem for cash and donate to a non-profit organization or school of their choice. I signed up for the Beauty Products Recycling Program a few months ago and I’ve collected up to 10 products to date. TerraCycle can expect a huge box of goodies once I’m ready to move out!

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Tom Szaky was 19 years old when he first got the idea for TerraCycle. The Princeton freshman wanted to eliminate waste by making quality fertilizer from food waste. Szaky went through a hard time and was close to giving up until he met Suman Sinha, TerraCycle’s first investor. Read the rest of the story here.

If you’re not sure what to do with the plastic packaging you get from the supermarkets, don’t fret. You can recycle them through the REDcycle program. RED Group is a Melbourne based consulting and recycling organisation that developed and implemented the program that allows consumers to recycle soft plastic such as bread bag, pasta and rice bags, old green bags, cereal box liners, just to name a few. Over the years, RED Group has teamed up with Coles, Woolworths and other Australia’s well-loved brands to make recycling easier for consumers.

Although major supermarkets in Australia do take part in this green initiative, I feel that they could’ve done a better job. We know that consumers and manufacturers use a stupid amount of plastic everyday (if you don’t, look it up) so I assume major supermarkets would have a REDcycle bin in all of their outlets. But it turns out that I have to go to specific places to drop off the soft plastics I’ve collected. What’s even more frustrating is that the Woolworths I shop at is located in one of the busiest areas in the city and yet there’s not a single REDcycle bin in sight. If they don’t make recycling convenient for consumers, how are we supposed to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that goes out to the landfill?

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TerraCycle’s main office: the desks are separated with items like old records and cork boards. Source: Dishmag.com
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Office Lobby: the furniture, chairs and table are made from secondhand materials. Source: Dishmag.com
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The upcycled “carden”. Source: Dishmag.com

Usually I’d vent about it and then move on. But this time I decided to write to Woolworths. I explained the situation and noted down the benefits of having a REDcycle bin at QV centre. They wrote back saying that they’re aware of the situation and is in the process of rolling out the REDcycle program to the rest of the outlets. I’m so glad to hear that.

Take a moment to reflect on your current lifestyle habits. Do you consider yourself an environmentally friendly person or you don’t really care? If you’re in the latter category, why do you think that? Consuming is a big part of our lives and it’s worth taking the initiative to reduce unnecessary waste. Make your home a better place now and be mindful when you consume.

 

You can make a difference.

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Brand Feature // Mon Purse

If you like high quality leather goods (big and small) and the option to customize, Mon Purse offers all that and more.

The Brand

Have you ever experienced the situation where you found a bag that you love but there was just one detail that doesn’t fit your style? We’ve all been there and thankfully there are brands out there that come to our rescue.

Mon Purse is one such brand.

Founded by Lana Hopkins, the Australian brand hand selects high quality leather and raw materials to produce leather goods that will last a lifetime. The best thing about Mon Purse is that customers are given the power to design their leather goods and by working with generational craftsmen, Mon Purse ensures that its customers get the products that they’ve envisioned and will truly love.

In terms of design, customers can emboss their initials or icons and symbols on the product of their choice. Mon Purse even provide the option to choose the color of the hardware (comes with a selection of gold, silver, rose gold and gunmetal) as well as the type of leather. Whether you’re drawn to grainy leather, vegetable tanned leather, or crocodile embossed leather, there’s something for everyone!

Besides bags and pouches, Mon Purse also sell small leather goods such as card holders, Iphone accessories and metal letter charms.

From The Founder

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Source: The Cusp

Lana was shopping for the perfect handbag at Westfield Bondi Junction but like most women, she couldn’t find the one that she wanted. And as she was building her nephew’s perfect teddy bear at Build-A-Bear workshop, she thought why not create something that allows women to do the same? With that, Mon Purse was born in 2014.

It’s definitely not easy to run a business but after two years of hard work, Mon Purse is now valued at over $30 million, with departments available in Selfridges (London), Bloomingdale (US), and Myers (Australia).

Do you see yourself as more a designer or as working in technology?

The combination of fashion and technology is a natural partnership – the two work together in harmony. Technology has enabled consumers to personalise and customise current trends to suit their own style. Fashion is something people love and are passionate about – technology is simply the unseen mechanism of making dreams possible.

Biggest pinch me moment…

  • We launched in beta (online) in October 2014 and have only been truly trading for less than one and a half years, during this time we managed to open our Paddington flagship store, signed an exclusive deal with MYER (we currently have 5 concessions Australia wide, with more to come in 2017).
  • Partnered with two of the most prestigious department stores in the world, Selfridges and Bloomingdales.
  • From 17 million design combinations on our bag builder to 6 billion and growing.

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Biggest piece of advice…

When it gets too hard, just keep going because that is when breakthroughs tend to happen. Impossible is nothing.

If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be and why?

Quality should trump everything. Our philosophy is to invest in nothing but the finest luxury European leathers and craftsmanship. Consumers understand quality – we must think solely about the consumers’ needs, and provide them with what they want, how they want and when they want it. It is very important to remain relevant and authentic. Consumers are intelligent and authenticity creates magic.

Tell us something about you that not many people know.

I was born in Russia, moved to Australia when I was quite young and grew up in a small place called Armidale, in countryside New South Wales – a gorgeous part of the world. I can also speak fluent Russian.

Source: Drapersonline.com and anorganisedlife.com

Find out more here:

http://au.monpurse.com/

https://www.instagram.com/mon_purse/

https://www.facebook.com/monpurse

 

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