Peaks & Tunnels

Written in Corvallis, OR, USA on February 6th, 2018

Today is a special day as a) the sun came out and it felt like spring! b) I had my first official off-block ever and it felt liberating af c) this is the peak to my life thus far.

To celebrate the process of molding into our skin and becoming who we want to be and growth and life and everything worthy, I’d like to share a 500 word count essay on the prompt “What are the factors that have influenced you most and how have they shaped you?”, supplied kindly by the Young Global Scholars program.

Growing up, my family have been the people I interacted with most; consequently, they are the people who have influenced me most. My family has never been peaceful. Throughout my entire life, I only remember one single blissful moment shared with both mom and dad–picking out Lily (my most cherished stuffed animal dolphin) from the Hong Kong Disney World on my third birthday.

Then, the roller coaster of life proceeded to drop into a tunnel.

Angry faces. Shaken voices. Cries.

Only later on did I realize that the images I have tried to block were real and should have been recognized. Images of my parents screaming insults at each other, of my maternal grandparents hating on my dad, paternal grandparents calling my other grandparents bastards. Angry faces. Shaken voices. Cries. Being an only child, I felt so alone. My peers could not relate; I did not try to share.

I remember crying at night, hugging her pink fur, talking to her deep black eyes, seeking companionship.

Lily became my family. She helped me through it all. I remember crying at night, hugging her pink fur, talking to her deep black eyes, seeking companionship. She would help me sort out all the confusion: Why did grandma say dad is incapable of responsibilities when dad took me to buy school supplies? Why did dad say that mom is a horrible person when she never forgets to kiss me goodnight?

From the surface, having lived in five different cities with different family members, then ending up halfway around the world with your mom and her third husband may seem like a terrible condition to grow up in. However, it has forced me to think, adapt, and grow more than anything ever could. We’ll give the credit to late night chats with Lily. Here’s a glimpse of Lily’s wisdom:

  1. It is critical to look at situations from multiple perspectives. Why would grandma say that about dad? Why would dad say that about mom? Do they see the whole picture? Do you? Now that you’ve heard all the sides, try to comprehend the holistic situation. Use your broader scope to understand, use it to foster compassion, use it to love everyone.
  1. Adapt to optimize your life. Never let your external situation dictate where you end up! This is your life. Love it. Cherish it. You do not have to let your family situation drag you down. In fact, use it as an opportunity to grow stronger mentally and emotionally. You direct where you want your life to go. Power’s all yours!
  1. Everyone is good at heart. See, when you missed your dad, your grandma didn’t allow you to call him because she wanted to keep you away from “possible danger”. It’s all perception, so strive to understand, and don’t hate.

I thank Lily for being the best coping mechanism a girl could have ever dreamt. Most of all, I thank my younger self for going forth so adamantly in the direction she wanted to go.


The darkest moments of my life “has forced me to think, adapt, and grow more than anything ever could”.

I thereby unconditionally thank my past self for experiencing the darkness of that tunnel, and steering me out to greet the warmest light of all.

To the infinite possibilities in this rollercoaster of life,



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