When I think of the past, my mind wanders back to one major event. This event gravitated around my parents. Just like everyone else, I grew up seeing my mother and father as the two pillars that were the foundations of my life. My parents divorced when I was 9 years old and it left a huge influence on the rest of my upbringing. This event is still so deeply rooted that it lies dormant behind every step I take. Retrospectively it provided me with a life purpose, because I learned very early on that life can be so fragile.
I believe that we are all products of our environment, and the environment I grew up in wasn’t exactly the healthiest. Naturally being intuitive, as are all children, I watched my parents grow so far apart that I didn’t know we were so capable of going from one extreme feeling to another. The two pillars I looked up to had slowly started to chip away and deteriorate and that was one of the hardest things to witness. My father’s pillar was the first to fall after I discovered my father had an affair with my mother’s best friend.
My mother is my favourite hero. She grew up in Cambodia and fled the war when she was 16. She lost two sisters, left the only place she called home, had to recreate a life from nothing when she arrived with the rest of the family in Australia, and then she had to find a way to survive a divorce while raising 3 young kids. She is resilience and determination incarnate, but even then her pillar started to crumble. I couldn’t look my father in the eye or trust a word he said thereafter. My mum battled her own demons and in the end resorted to self-harm. Everyday I lived with these triggers and reminders. The constant exposure made it incredibly difficult for me to manage my emotions.
When it became too much for me, I would go to my local swimming club and train. It was my escape from reality. It was here that I learnt how to express my feelings and channel my emotions in a positive way. In turn, I ended up building some of the strongest bonds with family and friends through sport.
When the pillars of my life started to crumble around me, my perspective on life changed. I am incredibly thankful for my family and friends, and all the people that supported and empowered me. That reason alone is why I want to take the time and opportunity to give back to the people around me. Today, my father lives in Queensland and our relationship is still very disconnected. My mother’s mental health and well-being have significantly improved through the strength and support of my younger brother and sister.
I am eternally grateful that life gave me a second chance. I didn’t realise how much I took for granted. I never understood my father and never gave him a chance. The more I live and grow, the more I learn about myself and what it’s like to live with your mistakes. His parents passed away when he was young and he wasn’t ever given the opportunity to be loved and nurtured as a child. If I am true to myself and genuinely want to make an impact on those around me, then I really do think that my father deserves a second chance as well, whatever that may look like.
Now, I love living life to the fullest by being vulnerable, embracing my greatest fears, and allowing myself to create genuine connections. Understanding that life can be so fragile gave me a newfound perspective. This gift has allowed me to always find a way to learn something from every opportunity and every experience. The best way for me to do that is to travel far and wide, take risks, be a sponge and soak up all that life has to offer.
My ultimate vision is to just be like the sun and warm the earth. To live life with intention. To cultivate genuine connections. To empower youths and be the role model I never had. To lead with compassion and listen actively. To give a second chance because every single person deserves it. To provide direction and help people discover their true values. And most of all to inspire all of the people around me to live moments well spent.
“I want to see a world where every person has their basic human rights met and is able to fully participate in society.”