23 October 2017

Growing up

Looking back to move forward

As an insecure and unconfident boy at 12 years old, getting uprooted from familiar environments, your family, your friends was not an easy adventure. Being put into a new school in a foreign society where you sound, look and act different was not an easy adventure. Being the parents responsible for making the tough decisions at the time and supporting their three children in this new environment was definitely not an easy adventure.

But what adventure does at such a young age is that it shapes character. It gave me resilience, the experience of knowing what it is like to be externally different to others and the appreciation of getting what you want when you overcome your adversities and work hard enough for something.

In my first year in Perth, one of my least favourite experiences was Year 8 English and PE. I was fine with Science and Mathematics because, for the most part, I could try to grasp concepts by paying attention to my teacher in class and thinking through it alone, without having to interact my classmates. In English however, it was terrible. We had to do things like read aloud to the class and renact drama scenes which made me very uncomfortable at the time.

My English teacher was also very strict, but I think she came to realise my predicament over time and she put me on the spot less and less. My dislike for PE was for similar reasons, even though I competitively played soccer and had a swimming regimen throughout primary school. I was just not ready for it at the time. The only physical activity I did enjoy and felt most in control was riding my bicycle to and from school with my brother and friends every single day, except for when it was raining or when the days were too hot.

It took me quite awhile to find my rhythm in school. Actually, it took me 4 full years and it was only in Year 11 where I developed a decent amount of self confidence which led to an internal drive for academic performance and for 'working hard'.

It was in 2011, the penultimate year of my high school experience, where I started to grasp the idea that the results I were to achieve in high school depended entirely on the effort that I put in. During those years, my parents worked hard to provide us with a stable home where food and family conversations were on the dinner table every night.

So, I decided, since I was not struggling to physically survive and all of my basic needs were met, I might as well pour my energies into something that would give me results and my chosen craft became school. I was never one of the kids who were born with natural talent, I worked hard for my grades and eventually I even gained public recognition from both my teachers and friends around me.

By the end of 2012, I graduated from WACE with an ATAR of 96.40 and a Chemistry Subject Award for being the top student in my year. I was also one of the top contenders for Year 12 Modern History where I consistently impressed my teacher with my writing prowess on the incredibly interesting period of Australian History.

With the end of high school, I looked at going straight into university with zero consideration of other pathways like taking a gap year to travel or to take up a course in TAFE. I, like many young people my age, had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my years ahead of me..

In hindsight, the early years post migration is not an uncommon story and share a common theme among immigrants from all backgrounds.

At 22 years old, I'm only really starting to think about the way I grew up and how the environment I was in has helped shape me into who I am today. Looking back, it is easy to see how my parents at the time worked really hard to shelter us from real challenges they themselves were going through in order to allow us to grow in our own unique and independent ways. To go to school. To have food on the table. Those little things that really matter. Even though I had to struggle through my own personal challenges in school, I have a deep appreciation of what my parents did for me as my experiences only prepared me for greater things in the years to come.