“Never stop dreaming because it’s dreams that will carry you far”

One of my high school teachers back in Singapore passed on that quote to me during one of my lowest moments in life. I was sixteen and had just received news that I was declined a chance at attaining a prestigious leadership award. The exact words of rejection still ring clear in my head: “I don’t think that you’re ready enough, and I can’t put my pen down to sign this paper”. All I needed was that signature to fulfill my dream and goal that I was working towards during my last two years of high school — to receive that award from the President of Singapore. But unfortunately, those words killed everything. The last hurdle was broken even before I had a chance at it.

Seven years later, I look back and I realized that rejection does not mean failure. After graduating from high school, I worked towards a three-year diploma in mass communications. Having discovered a passion for wakeboarding, I joined my varsity team and trained at a competitive level. My leadership qualities were recognized through my eagerness to pass on my passion to others and my organizational skills for planning several wakeboarding introductory courses. At 19, I became the first female captain for my varsity’s wakeboard team.

I graduated from my diploma with a big bang: best research video; best Adobe Flash website; one gold and three silver medals for individual categories and two silver trophies for team overall in wakeboard competitions; a feature in a recognized newspaper, campus newsletter and website; and an acceptance into the Bachelor of Arts Communication program at Simon Fraser University. I packed my three suitcases and waved goodbye to my parents, friends, and my life of 20 years, ready to begin on another adventure. I was fast to grow accustomed to my new surroundings but it was not until my second year of university did I start joining organizations on campus. I took on the roles of Co-President at UNICEF SFU, Vice-President (Communications) for AIESEC SFU, and Organizing Committee President for AIESEC Coastal Conference 2010.

Now, I revisit the words that were said to me when I was sixteen. The leadership award meant a world to me. I was never the academic driven child and that award was an escape from the academic world. It was a testimony to myself that academics alone would not get you far. However, when rejection hit in, I started questioning my own capabilities.

I have never dreamt about being a leader, but I have dreamt about making a change. I want to create an impact onto people’s lives in a positive way, to facilitate the growth of character and personal development. I thank Miss Janice Lim – my high school teacher – who told me the above quote. She made me believe that dreams could come true if you put your passion and determination into your work and believe in yourself. I managed to emerge as a leader in those organizations – helping my team mates achieve their medals in wakeboarding by constant encouragement; helping children in the underdeveloped nations by leading a fundraising team; encouraging student leadership growth and helping others reach to their highest potential in school and at work. The leadership award that I was denied probably doesn’t mean that much to me now because I only managed to grew stronger from that setback and never gave up hope.

Never ever let anyone tell you whether you’re ready to work towards your dreams or goals because only you will know the ultimate answer.

Never give up hope. Continue dreaming, always.

Featured photo credits: Nicole Pierce