“Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are.” — Brene Brown
Growing up, I was raised under the notion that success means graduating from university, working a corporate job with benefits, owning a house, and starting a family. From ever since I could remember, my parents have sacrificed their happiness and well-being for me and my brother so that we could have a bright future ahead of us. I was subconsciously taught that my worth is linked to my job title and that is how people perceive us.
High school wasn’t rainbows and butterflies. Similar to many, I was bullied, made fun of, and taunted. I questioned my appearances and worth. My insecurities grew day by day and I secretly dreaded going to school. I became so stressed that I developed a severe case of eczema by the end of Grade 8. My four limbs were covered in rashes that simply would not go away. Have you ever been so embarrassed and ashamed of yourself that you couldn’t wear short sleeves in the summer or anywhere else? It was devastating.
It lasted for 3.5 years.
During all that, my mom unknowingly had signed me up to join Air Cadets. My first initial thoughts were filled with anger, frustration, and embarrassment. So, I spent a year and a half with a crappy attitude, thinking it would just go away. Nothing changed. So after much thought, I decided to spend one year giving it my all. If nothing came from that, then I was definitely quitting.
To my disbelief, that one year changed my life and my way of thinking. I found solace in a place where I could be myself. It gave me a boost of confidence and a sense of community.
It taught me how to lead by example in a male-dominated organization.
It taught me that anything is possible with the right mindset.
It taught me that I was worthy of belonging and living.
I was only 16 and there was a fire inside me.
That quiet girl with the low self-esteem suddenly felt like she could conquer the world someday. My spirits were lifted and it felt empowering. I rose through ranks and led summer camps, squadrons, and more. I won awards and was recognized for my efforts. I was proud of who I became through leadership and community. I felt fulfilled with what I was doing.
After having graduated, I began settling in my daily 9-5 routine. Slowly, the fire inside me started to dim. I was feeling lost again. I took a big step towards the unknown and decided to set aside my parents’ expectations of me.
I have always felt the most joy empowering and leading a community.
It has always given me a foundation, a purpose, and a direction.
It is what shaped who I am today.
Paying it forward, I want to build a community where I could gather the next generation of girls to spark conversations about topics they are passionate about; a place for girls to go to, feel safe, and not alone. I want to give girls and women around the world the same opportunities and tools I was given so that they could achieve their passions and maximize their potential. I want to ignite the inner fire in each girl and encourage them to help themselves by helping others.
The greatest lesson I have learned is that the flame within us lit the brightest on each of our paths when we are helping others, creating things, and making a difference within our community. Our life, our purpose, and our impact are intentionally designed to be extraordinary.
DiscoverHERProject became that flame for me.
The foundation of a young girl is shaped during her adolescence and is perhaps the most pivotal developmental years of her life. Back then, I was that lost little girl who didn’t believe in herself or feel worthy of belonging despite having potential. All I needed was to be surrounded by the right people and focus on what made sense to me. I truly believe that achieving success in work and life is tied to a fundamental understanding of core values, key character traits, and self-awareness.
My own core values are adventure, energy, impact, loyalty, and compassion.
My wish is for girls to understand the power and potential they have within themselves and to use it for a greater good. Women-culture is shifting and every girl deserves to be rooted in their self-worth; to turn self-doubts and fears into self-love and faith. We are at our best when we build each other up and support each other, no matter the zip code or country we live in. We are all on the same team and we all deserve to have the same freedom.
Join me in supporting the next generation of girls becoming leaders.