Women Making Waves is a bi-monthly series by The Women Wave that spotlights badass women who are playing active roles in making waves in their communities.

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If you’ve been a part of The Women Wave community for a while, you know we talk a lot about filling up your own cup so you have something to pour out for others. Put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else! Our next Women Making Waves feature, Annie Ngu, is building a platform for women, by women, with women, to help them live by this golden rule.

The Women United Project, co-founded by Annie, has a mission to empower women and girls to get mentally fit so we have the capacity to give back to those in need.

But that’s not all Annie does. She’s co-authoring a book about female leadership, set to publish in 2020. She is a lead UI/UX designer for a start-up in Toronto. And she shares her ideas, perspective, and thoughts on Medium and For Working Ladies.

We’re inspired by her capacity for the work and her mission to remind women everywhere that prioritizing yourself isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s a radical act of love that empowers you to give even more to the community around you.

What's one piece of advice that you would give to someone who looks up to you?

I’d say probably something like: don’t be afraid to get raw and hit yourself where it hurts, it’s the only way to really push through personal barriers. I always think that the way you see yourself is a reflection of how others will see you. That said, if you want to be a leader or an expert in your field, you have to put in the work and show it.  Your potential, your capabilities and your chance to surpass will not improve unless you do. Another good thing to get comfortable with now is being vulnerable—it doesn’t mean being weak—it helps access the power of your truth because you’re recognizing your weaknesses and your strengths to fuel your drive to do whatever it is you need to do.

Here at The Women Wave, we’re big proponents of fully embracing being a “work in progress.” What does that look like for you?

Perfection is unhealthy. So, it’s a good thing that I’m always a WIP. I was talking to my friend the other day about the lesson impermanence teaches us and how if we looked at life as a flower, we’d be able to appreciate the present, the now. And that’s how I feel about myself. Right now, I’m just starting to bud. I’ve still got time to bloom and really become the woman I’m manifesting my energy into. There’s not perfect timing, no perfect moment—the time is now. I was never prepared for this moment. 

Speaking of which, the Women United Project plans to host a mini-summit in the Fall called “Women In Progress” where we’re getting women in leadership positions to talk about their journey and run a drive to give back to the community at whatever capacity we can. We’re still working out the dates and speakers!

With so much going on, how do you maintain your relationships (including with yourself)?

This answer is going to be long—I have a lot to say about relationships. For me, I’m constantly doing something—so I do my best to surround myself with people whose heart, vibrations, and drive match and/or surpass mine because we feed off of the people we tend to spend more time with. The beauty of my relationships is that they grow with me. I don’t force or hold onto people who don’t want to stay because my general rule is: give them as much attention as they give you.

Whether it’s personal, professional, or intimate, relationships affects us all very differently. I believe that people come into my life to be my teachers—and whether that’s short or long term is not up to me to decide. And as I’m balancing a full-time job, growing a company, and writing for blogs, I’m also doing my best to stay present as much as I can. 

To meet myself here, I had to grow through what I went through. And after a lot of trauma, processing, and understanding—I found more peace with myself because I’m realizing the beauty of impermanence. The fact that we won’t always be here but what we’ve experienced curates our perspectives to make our stories uniquely our own. And until I realized that no one actually cares about who we want them to think we are, I was able to learn how to let go and love all the qualities that make me who I am today—flaws and all. We’re all doing our best to navigate and find our way. We have

TL;DR I’m in a much better space now. I still spend a lot of time in my own head but it’s different this time because I’m more focused on the art of self-mastery—mastering my mind and surpassing personal goals, expectations, and drive. It’s good to be self-aware and introspective—you grow more loving, compassionate, and empathetic towards yourself and everyone around you. And that’s the kind of energy people want to be around.

And that’s the tea!

What do we need to know about the 100 to Wellbeing movement?

At the Women United Project, we’re currently designing an app that focuses on helping users develop a habit of living mindfully in 100 days—you can use it to share and track your progress. It’s also a community for women on the app to engage with each other, challenge each other, and contribute to organizations and charities in their city! We’re so excited about the trajectory of the app and our mission. 

What do you do to fill your creative cup back up when you’re feeling uninspired?

Not a day goes by when I don’t have to be creative–so staying inspired is part of me. My favourite thing to do is to observe; it helps me to visualize things better and intentionally to learn, lead, and do more effectively. For me, creativity isn’t something that comes from a singular spark but like a collective effort from people and things we observe and interact with, so if I ever need a creativity boost, you’ll always find my nose between the pages of a book, scrolling endlessly on the internet, or watching videos that are usually not related to the problems I’m trying to solve. I always find my answer in uncommon places. 

You can follow the Women United Project on IG and their website.