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Accepting Her Uniqueness With Thu Nguyen


Meet Thu Nguyen, was a pharmacist living and working in Arizona, but she was originally from Vietnam. Growing up in an immigrant household didn't leave a lot of room to take risks. She had to squash her innate creativity and entrepreneurial spirit for a more stable and secure life. In this process, through lost track of her true self, doing what was expected of her, she found herself at a crossroads of either accepting her uniqueness or following the crowd.

In this episode, we discuss just how she decided to reclaim the passions she set aside. With newfound appreciation for her career and the lessons learned along the way, she embarks on a journey to reintegrate her creativity and pursue her dreams once more.

Get inspired to reflect on the choices you've made and the parts of yourself you may have set aside. It's a reminder to honor yourself, embrace your passions, and navigate your own challenges to a more fulfilling and authentic life.

Join us on this insightful episode as we delve into her story and uncover the transformative power of embracing your true self. To connect with Thu, check her out on Instagram @ndoodles


Watch Thu's Story



Jennifer: Welcome to the I Don’t Give a Should Show – a podcast exploring ALL the ways that women SHOULD all over themselves. How many times do you find yourself acting out of obligation or doing what everyone ELSE expects from you without stopping to consider why? Where do all those beliefs that are driving you come from? If you’re tired of feeling resentful, overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted or pissed off you’re in the right place. Shoulding all over yourself is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat.

I’m your host Jen Sherwood, and I spent waaaaay too many years trying to prove that I was good enough and worrying what other people thought while avoiding conflict at all costs. Today, I don’t give a should – well not as many anyway and neither should you. I’m talking to women like you who figured out how to stop shoulding and start LIVING.

Today, my guest is Thu Nguyen, a pharmacist living and working in Arizona, but she was originally from Vietnam. Growing up in an immigrant household didn't leave a lot of room to take risks. She had to squash her innate creativity and entrepreneurial spirit for a more stable and secure life.

In this process, through losing track of her true self and doing what was expected of her, she found herself at a crossroads of either accepting her uniqueness or following the crowd through. I'm excited to hear where that Crossroads has taken you and what life is like today.

But first, welcome – thank you for being here!


Thank you.

That was a great introduction!


I'm really excited to hear the whole story, so just tell us what it was like when you were living under the shoulds.



As the introduction mentioned, I grew up in an immigrant household where there are very specific expectations of a child in that kind of thing. My parents, when we were talking about going to college and career, they gave me like maybe three options, their engineer, maybe if I resist, I, you know, I decided to go the pharmacy route.

I can give you a little bit more background here – when I was younger, we didn't have a lot of money because we, you know, my parents immigrated to America. It was just not a priority to, like, buy fancy things or fun toys and stuff. My friend and I had this friend of mine, and we would get together, and we would always hang out, you know, every weekend, and we would just create our own toys as we would just do our own things.

No, I can't have a Pokemon card, I'll just make my own Pokemon card, and I think that creativity stemmed from there. She and I continue to grow up together and hang out. We're like, how else can we make money? I remember when we were, like, in sixth grade, we're like, what if we write a novel and sell it? I mean, we are, like, big thinkers, like creative people.

We wanted to do this as a kid, but, you know, with the expectations of my parents, those things had to be on hold for other things. I went to pharmacy school, and I think it was a good decision for me, though, like, I don't look back and be like, oh, I wish I could have done be, you know, like a writer or anything like that, because I do. I do love math, and I do love science, and I thought out of everything, pharmacy was the best fit. It was a really good fit, but yeah, there were definitely parts of me when I was going through pharmacy school that I had to stop doing a lot of that other, you know, extracurricular hobby stuff that I really did love.

When I was in pharmacy school, right before I got into pharmacy school, I had this blog, and back then, this was like 2010, blogs were like a big thing. I had this beauty blog, you know, like that realm was like, or that area is trying to grow and I had this whole thing. I was like, you know, posting on it. I mean, I've always had that side of me, but I have to leave it behind for more didactic, academic schoolwork, and I don't have any regrets, though.

You know, I still really love what I learned in pharmacy school, and I appreciate this career to this day. I am finding more passion in this career and in this profession, as I've kind of stayed and gone into it, but there is a side of me that I did have to let go in order to pursue this other thing.


First of all, I love the story about you and your friends.

Do you tell me what that expression is? Necessity is the mother of invention, so we're just creative kids. I love the spirit of kids the way they're like that, like, okay, we'll just write a novel. It’s that big dreamer, right? It's sort of like as we make our way through adulthood, and then we all get that way. Like, we just don't have the openness of kids and the joyousness. I mean, I'm sure there are some adults that don't get me wrong, I shouldn't, I shouldn't paint with such a broad brush.

Life kind of just pushes all that down, but I think what I'm hearing you say, it isn't so much that you, it's more like you left that side of you behind temporarily, because I don't hear that you cut it off, you forgot about it, and it took 40 years for you to get back to it.

It almost sounds to me like you like pharmacy school is rigorous. I don't know. I've never been through it. But it sounds like it almost sounds okay; let me put this over here. I'm gonna go for this stable, secure pathway. But now that you're in a more like you're through school, and you're in a professional role, was it? Was it almost like looking around at the other adults around you and realizing like, Oh, I forgot about these parts, and I want some of this back?

Was there anything like that?


Oh, yeah, I mean, I think it was a little bit of a sacrifice.

I don't know if ever I don't know when I put those things away that it was necessary. I thought it was just a temporary thing, and I was really like, I need to focus on this career path.

This is what's going to bring me what I need in life, and that's what I've always been taught. I don't think anybody's ever taught me that I could combine the two. I, you know, being a pharmacist for eight years now and just kind of looking around at the other people that the other my colleagues, I guess my co-workers, I kind of see like, oh, you know, this is just the path that you're on and that's it.

I don't see so many people branching out, I don't see that person that I could look up to and be like, well, you're a pharmacist, but you also do this other stuff, and it wasn't until I had reached a point after it was post-pandemic. I've been pretty burned out, and I felt pretty burned out after two years worth of, like, pandemic and quarantine and all this stuff. It was just, it's its entire thing. And I kind of reflected back on this time.

I thought, you know, life is really short, and I just don't know if following this path that everybody else is following is right for me. I just, I just don't feel that it's right. It's just like that when I see myself in, and I put myself in their shoes. I'm like, No, I want more than this one and just, you know, this traditional pharmacy role, like there has to be something else, and I think that's when I tapped into it a little.



I want to come back to the pandemic before we do. Were you sort of seeing the impression and kind of getting in, you can tell me where I'm wrong, was the path like the path to burnout was it just sort of like, the pathway was sort of, you know, this really worn groove and there just wasn't a lot of creativity to it, it was just this is the expected route.


A little bit, I think, monotony can bring out a lot of burnout and just, just maybe, not seeing a lot of other people doing something else. It puts me in this feeling of, oh my gosh, is it?

So there is a level of feeling stuck because I'm like, I can't visualize what else I can do just because I don't see anybody else. But that's not where I want. I gotcha but you couldn't visualize it; I couldn't visualize it. I couldn't see like, Oh, I could be, you know, these other pharmacists are like this other thing. I couldn't see it because everybody around me was doing the same things, you know, over and over and over again for years and years.


I wonder if, for you, and honestly, I'd heard this from other people who've been on the show, I wonder for you if the pandemic actually kind of sped up what other people and so while that I don't think you would necessarily have chosen to work daily in a pandemic, you know, face to face with the public.

I do wonder if, in a way, it really actually looking back kind of has served you in that. It was this really, really difficult time, and it's pushed you forward towards? What do I really want? Do you think that's a true statement?


Oh, 100% – I don't think I do wonder what would have happened if I didn't go through this because the biggest lesson I learned from the pandemic, and I actually did, I got sick right before the vaccines came out.

I did go through this whole thing of like, oh my gosh, what's going to happen? There's just a lot of stress and trauma that went on as a frontline worker during the pandemic. It made me realize that I cannot spend any more time doing what I don't want to be doing or I don't feel fulfilled, but it was an accelerating factor, that pandemic for sure.

It really pushed me to think, if I only have this much time left, like, what am I going to be spending that time doing? Right? And look around, they're suffering and everything all around. So like, you know, life is short and precious, so try to make the most out of it.

Essentially, I'm learning I'm learning really big lessons from that for sure.


Yeah, I think that's really incredible.

Can I just step aside for a second and say, I don't think during the pandemic, when we talked about frontline workers, we heard about EMTs, nurses, doctors, I don't think I personally really thought about the pharmacists who still had to show up every day, and reach across the counter and have conversations and be, you know, not that far away from other people.

I really just want to acknowledge your contribution to this process and thank you for that. Then how beautiful that you're actually choosing to find some lesson in this. And I always talk to my clients about when you're moving forward with something and really understand why your motivation behind it because then it really helps you stay focused.

I think I'm hearing you say your why is life is too precious, and they me in this groove that doesn't quite fit you. It's time to really open up and see what else is out there for you.

So what is going on for you? You've taken this lesson; you're doing some exploration; where's this taking you?


Around April of 2022, I started being more active on LinkedIn; I actually got a career coach just to get more ideas; I can't visualize what my career should look or would look like in the future. I just can't visualize it yet. I needed somebody else to step in and give me ideas and show me that other things can happen, so I needed a career coach and mentor.

I was able to find someone like that on LinkedIn, and through her guidance, I was able to start posting on LinkedIn. Just like for the first time, using my voice on a very public platform and showcasing what I can do as a pharmacist, and you're correct in saying that, so a lot of times, pharmacists are overlooked. You know, when we think of healthcare workers, you think of nurses, doctors, EMTs and that's, that's great. Those guys are amazing people but don't forget the pharmacists, too, because, without us, they may not have the resources to provide that type of care.

I think that me showing, or just being on LinkedIn, showcasing what pharmacists can do, talking about a field in healthcare that I'm actually really interested in, which is transitions of care. The fact that when patients go from one healthcare setting to another healthcare setting, there may not be a lot of resources for them.

In those moments of transitioning between all these healthcare settings, there are a lot of errors that can happen, and there are a lot of mistakes that can lead a patient back to the hospital or worsen their health. I am at this point where I feel comfortable enough to, like, expose myself, not exposed but just like, showing the world like, I'm here, and this is what I have to say like, I would never in a million years thought I would ever do something like that. I mean, yeah, I had a blog about makeup, like a long time ago, but now I'm talking about something that could really save people's lives or can really change practice.

Like, it's a huge ad for me being very, like this is the path, keeping my head down, going straight down, whatever, there's this already paved path for me. Like hello everyone, look at me, listen to me, that's it's a huge one – it is a huge change, but it's worth it. For you know, my own mission and fulfillment in life.


I love this so much.

You have this piece within this profession that you feel so passionate about, and you're really stepping out to talk about it; it puts you in a different light, and it makes people look at you, which may be very uncomfortable, particularly in the beginning.

I can really see how you're using your creativity to expand your professional actions or actions, experiences, and who knows where that will take you. Maybe this is a passion project that you just run with, and maybe it's something you just continue to work out. Who knows, right? That's where no one knows, but it's great.

I think the point of you being here and sharing your story with my audience is we limit ourselves so much, and I love what you said about I couldn't see it. You went and got somebody to help you, and so my sense is probably working with this person is just going through what you like, what is coming up for you when you think about what you like.

I mean, that is a lot of times what happens when clients come to me as well as, like, they know it's not right. But they don't know what the next step is. I think that's such an important reflection, and the fact that you took the step to bring somebody in to help you with that. I just hope people who are listening who maybe aren't feeling that they're on the right path; we'll just think about that.

Sometimes it helps to have a sounding board to have somebody else help you see what you can't see. I also love that what you said is I don't know what it is, yet you're getting there.


Yeah, I think one of the things I've learned is to be more open to more possibilities.

This is the funny thing is when you veer off of this path that's paid for you. There's a lot of; it's just an open field, so you can go really anywhere. Again, like maybe finding a coach to help you maybe narrow down or be more focused, but it's like it goes from just one thing to just poof everything, right?

That there's a level like, oh, my gosh, what do I do now? Just embracing? Like, you don't know, but it's good, and it feels good.


Yeah, I would imagine the openness that, like all these opportunities or potential opportunities, are available to you.

Feels a lot more free than here I am in the prescribed path.


Oh, 100% – it feels freeing!


So Thu, I can imagine people listening or, like one you are interested in, the topic you're taking on is interesting.

If they wanted to know more about you to follow you, where's the best place to connect with you?


The best place to connect with me is on LinkedIn @Thu Nguyen; that's where I put a lot of my posts out there about transitions of care.

I write my posts in a way that's digestible to not just healthcare providers but really anybody. If you're a caregiver to a patient, or you're a patient or whoever, go check it out, go read some of my posts, understand where some of the errors can occur during those transitional periods, and maybe learn how to prevent some of those things, too.


Yeah, I would imagine we have a lot of caregivers listening, a lot of people whose parents are starting to age or maybe with issues or patients themselves, but I suspect my demographic, there's a lot of aging parents.

I think that's perfect for them to go and what's what's your what do you what are you listed as I don't know what determines,

We will put all of your information in the show notes to make it easy.

Yeah, so thank you so much for being here and for sharing your story and just letting us get to know you.


Yeah, thanks for having me!

This was a lot of fun – I love sharing stories like this, and I hope that it can inspire more people to think outside the box.


I hope so too!

Obviously, you know, I love sharing stories because this is why I do this. It lights me up to really hear where people were and kind of the process of getting there, and if it does inspire anybody, then that's why we're here on this.

Alright – thank you, and those of you listening or watching, thank you for joining us, and come back next time for another episode.

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