“Life is like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’ll have until you’ve tasted it… ” a phrase taken from the movie Forrest Gump. I think the phrase reflects the reality of our life. We will never know what is ahead of us, whether we are going to become a famous person in the world or otherwise. I would say the circumstance surroundings my childhood have moulded me into who I am right now. My parents were strict disciplinarian for my siblings and I. Therefore, I think I owe my entire life to my beloved parents especially my father who has played an important role to what I have achieved to date.

I was born 25 years ago and am the second child in a family of four. I have an elder brother and two younger sisters, thus I am the eldest daughter. My parents said that since I was young, I was always the one who bullies my brother as he was the type who gives in whenever we got into some fight. He was and still has a soft spot in his character. On the other hand, I am the serious one which sometimes makes me feel like I am the eldest among the four of us. I would like to relate this to an incident that happened late last year.

We (my siblings and I) were about to have dinner in a bistro and the waiter accidentally (I hope! ) spilt our drinks on my brother and he was soaking wet. The waiter apologised and being his ‘cool character’ my brother accepted the apology. I on the other hand, would not give up and I demanded that we not pay for the food we ordered. My sisters were quite shocked because I was the one who was making such a big fuss about it while my brother was not, but at the end all was happy as we were given free dinners. Hurray!!! A win. My memory of my childhood began at the age of three.

I was told by my parents that I could not wait until I was 4 years old to go to kindergarten, so they enrolled me at a small nursery. I was extremely excited that by the end of my first week in the nursery, I dragged my father to take me to the nursery even though it was a Saturday! Since then my parents thought to themselves, “We’ve got it made, she’s going to be the bright one… ” After spending a year in the nursery, we had to move to London for a year as my father was completing a course there. It was really an experience that I will never forget.

My brother was in the primary school while I enrolled in the kindergarten. I had so much fun and learnt so many things which I think were entirely different from the educational style in Malaysia. I did not remember being burdened with lots of homework because I was having a lot of fun making friends and learning more simple things that is important in life i. e. built my confidence in public speaking. I could still remember every afternoon there will be a play from a fairy tale story and the teacher will choose 4-5 students to act in the play.

Although it was very short and most of us ended up laughing to each other, it actually taught small children like me to be confident in expressing ourselves. I do not recall having any of these experiences during my kindergarten in Malaysia, we were taught to do mathematic calculations, have neat handwritings and on top of that, there would be homework everyday! Apart from having a wonderful time in school in England, we (my family and I) travelled to Europe in summer and I think this was the opportunity of a life time for all of us.

After spending a year in London, it was time for us to come back to Malaysia. I wished I could have stayed longer as I felt London was my second home. The feeling was so great that I have made a promise to myself that I will try to get a place in one of the universities in England to further my studies. I started primary school when I was 7. Initially my parents wanted to place me in a Chinese primary school as they have seen my great interest in learning as compared to my brother (I am not joking, this was what he had always said and sometimes it made me feel uncomfortable).

If I did my primary education in a Chinese school, I would have the opportunity to speak three languages i. e. Malay, English and Mandarin but they finally decided not to. They were worried that it would be difficult for me to adapt with different surroundings and furthermore, if I do learn Mandarin, there would be no one who would be able to assist me with my homework as no one in our family reads or writes Mandarin. Anyhow, six years in a co-educational school was not as bad as I thought it would be as when I first stepped into the class. I was elected as a school prefect when I was 10.

Then I withdrew from being prefect a year later as I was too involved in other activities for example sports, Red Crescent Malaysia and Lion’s Interactive Club. I finished primary school when I was 12 and was very keen to go for my secondary school. Most of my close friends were still with me when I went to secondary school so I was not feeling like I was alone. Life as a teenager was very challenging. Challenging in terms of making new friends, knowing which group of friends whom you can count on, and learning not to be a follower but a leader. Frankly speaking, I really missed secondary school days.

I spent the first half of secondary school life as a school prefect. This time I took on the responsibility as a school prefect for three years and managed to be active in sports and other curricular activities. By this time I had learned to manage my time between studies and social activities. I have always looked up to my father as a role model, if he can balance his career as the highest ranking police officer in Malaysia and being the head of our family, so can I. When I was in my fourth year in secondary school and about to face a major examination i. e. he Malaysian Certificate Examination (MCE), I dedicated myself to my studies and willingly withdrew from the role of school prefect. Sweet 16, a new and stronger friendship was built. My friends and I had a great time together and it formed a great and lasting foundation to good friendship for life.

We were very proud of ourselves because before we left school, we managed to make our school proud by establishing a new club which was called “the Vision 2020 Society” following the advice from our Prime Minister’s statement “… to see Malaysia as a develop country in terms of its economics, social and political stability by the year 2020… . Through various activities with the club, I built my confidence. I was elected as the President for two consecutive years. It gave me an opportunity to deal with people from different backgrounds and levels of command for example, I had to deal with complaints from students and consider different opinions from teachers. My MCE results came out early 1996. My results gave me challenge towards furthering my studies in Hotel and Management. However, I was not allowed by my parents, especially my father, to pursue this cause of action.

He persuaded me instead to take a Diploma in Accountancy in one of the Institutes in Malaysia as I had studied Accounting and Economics as one of my electives during secondary school. I did not want to argue (in fact I dare not argue with him) as he was the one who was going to pay all educational expenses and I should respect him because of that. So there I was stepping into a whole new world, the college life. I spent 3 years completing my Diploma in Accountancy. Since the Institute was 25 kilometres away from home, I rented an apartment which was near to the institute with my best friend although I was given a car.

During those years, I continued keeping myself busy with students’ activities and gained further experience acting as the Vice President. I felt my life was at its peak as I was then very confident, very optimistic and had a high self-esteem because everything seemed to be working well. As we know life has its ups and downs. Towards the end of my final year which was in early 1999, God gave us (my family and I) the greatest test of all. My father, who was then the Inspector General Police of Malaysia stepped down from his post and retired from his career. Not long after that there was a huge case he needed to face.

The case was huge and it had a massive impact on our family as it was also a case that had implication on the nation. Personally, my dreams were shattered; I almost wanted to quit my studies because I felt everything was falling apart; I was too embarrassed to face others but I was lucky I had a very strong family foundation. We stood up for each other and in a way it brought us closer to each other. I could still remember the look I received from my fellow students and they started to avoid me. I began to isolate myself from others for quite some time though I continued attending classes; I had low self-esteem and started being negative.

I was depressed and began negative feeling towards myself as I occasionally began hearing voices in my head telling me how useless I was and how ruined my life had become. As I did not want to burden my parents with this, I confided in my best friend who was also my housemate and she encouraged me and lift me out of my doldrums. My dream to further my studies in England was shattered; I continued to complete my Bachelors in Accountancy (Hons) at a local university. Although I was still lack of confidence and had negative feelings, I was still needed to be active in the students’ association.

Although reluctant at first, I decided I would contribute to the club by just being one of the ad-hoc members. I did not want to be appointed as one of the Board of Directors as I did not feel competent enough to handle major responsibilities anymore. I tried to think positively and assured myself that I could still contribute to the association. Gradually I regained my confidence but I was more conscious and cautious when meeting new acquaintances. Two years passed, I graduated with a 2nd class honours. With this success I knew I had contributed to my father’s happiness and his wishes have come through.

I then stepped into working life. Just before I started my first job as an Accounts Executive in an audit firm, I worked as the Assistant Manager in one of my family’s company. After a year working in the audit firm, I realised I was not interested to being a practicing Accountant but was rather interested to be an hotelier. Thus, that was when I told my parents I would not be taking a professional course in order for me to be a Chartered Accountant but would prefer to take a Masters in Business and Administration (MBA). This is how I came to be involved in GSM.

My hope from the experiences that I have here as well as my previous experiences will able me to establish my own hotel within the next three years. I am not sure whether this is wishful thinking. However, I believe without a dream, no dream can come true. From what I have gone through in life, it has in fact taught me how to survive difficulties, that in each challenge life brings; there can always be positive outcomes. It can make you stronger, shape your character for good and prepare you for future adversity. For me, nothing will be too daunting and too big to tackle as there will always be a silver lining in every cloud.