Hello, everyone! I hope you guys are all safe and well. I know that this year has been one of the toughest times we’ve ever gone through.. We have lost and suffered so much as a community. I don’t know about you, but I definitely lost hope and purpose countless of times this year. 2020 was definitely the most challenging year of my life. There were many unexpected things that happened which hindered my health and growth. BUT, I can say that I am a completely different person because of these tough times. I truly believe that tough times make you stronger. With that being said, I just wanted to share my personal story in hopes to encourage and motivate you during the most difficult times of your life.
2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for me. I remember at the end of 2019, I was going through a really tough time. It was my final year of undergrad and at the end of the first semester, I had gotten out of a heartbreaking relationship. Although I won’t go in great detail, I felt disrespected and betrayed especially with how things ended. It really broke me mentally, spiritually and physically. I was throwing up, having really bad headaches, losing sleep, losing my appetite, etc. I lost a lot weight. I remember looking at myself in the mirror many times and just bursting out in tears. I felt ugly. I felt weak. I felt unloved. I felt like a nobody.
Knowing that I was in an unhealthy place, I promised myself that I would spend 2020 to heal, learn and grow. I reached out to Jojo (@jvincentaureus), who is a fitness coach and an old friend of mine, to train to me. I wanted my body to become strong and able… in hopes that it would heal me mentally as well. There was a lot of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual damage that had been done and I just wanted to be HAPPY and WELL. I began 2020 with a goal- to become a different person. I began going to the gym, working hard in school, hanging out with friends, dancing, and trying to eat A LOT of FOOD.
Then… COVID-19 happened. We were, of course, all trapped in our homes. I felt like I was going backwards. All the insecurities and sadness started to ooze out once again. I was not able to meet up with friends to talk about how I was feeling. I couldn’t do anything, but to try to ignore these feelings. I finished up my final semester of school and continued to work out with Jojo. He was really supportive and I was introduced (virtually) to his business partner (Genesis Rendorio @gfitdorio) and some of his other clients. I was slowly getting used to quarantine.
During this time, I was constantly applying for jobs and praying that I would be hired. There was an opportunity for me to apply for Miss World Canada, which then I was selected to compete for the Ontario provincials. As time flew by, things started to die down a little bit when the (dance) community that I was in began to blow up with sexual allegations made against an individual I used to be friends with. I cut times with this person 2.5 years before the allegations, due to negative experiences I had. When this announcement blew up in the dance community, I was triggered. All the memories that I had with this person started to come back. These experiences included misogynistic behaviours, manipulation, targeted bullying and emotional abuse. The recent victim shared her story, and it really made me sick to my stomach. I decided to let go and take some time off of social media. The Black Lives Matter Movement was also happening during this time. It made me speechless and frustrated that people are so segregated because of the skin colour. So many people in the Black community are hurting and dying… and it is so evident. There is SO MUCH work to be done in our community..
Just when I thought I hit rock bottom, something else happened. My neighbour’s house caught on fire. Because I lived in a semi-detached house, it got carried over to my place as well. I remember I was working out in my room when it got very dark. I looked outside the window and all I saw was black smoke. I initially thought that my neighbour was having a barbecue. But when the smell hit me, I knew it wasn’t a regular barbecue. I ran downstairs and saw a huge commotion outside. My mom and brother were screaming frantically. Knowing that everyone did not exit the house, I quickly ran back inside. I ran inside to get a family friend, who was taking a shower in the basement, out of the house. He came running out and we all watched as the houses burned. Can you believe 16 fire trucks came? I couldn’t help but cry as the smoke grew bigger and bigger. I didn’t know what was going to happen to my family. I couldn’t believe it was happening at all. Many strangers came to watch the house fire. There were so many people… They were all taking pictures and videos… some were even smiling and laughing as this was happening…like it was some tourist attraction. I couldn’t believe how disrespectful that was to me and my family. I guess it’s only entertaining if it is not their personal business. After speaking with the insurance company, my family and I spent the next 5 days in a hotel. We then moved into our family friend’s house for the next 2 days. After that, we moved into a condo (which we’re still in) as the insurance company is fixing and repairing our place. Although things were hectic, I was still applying to jobs, attending interviews, and buying clothes that had been lost from the fire.
I was hopeless and confused. I wanted 2020 to be my best year, a year of change. I did not understand why so many bad things were happening. Did God really have a plan for me? Why is He letting this happen? I lost motivation and purpose in my life. There was nothing to be excited for…until Miss World Canada finally came out with the provincials competition date. I didn’t know if it was a good time for me to compete… because I lost so much in 2020. The timing just did not seem appropriate. However, my parents did not want these circumstances to slow me down from pursuing & achieving things that I want. I decided to prepare for the Ontario provincials for Miss World Canada. The reason why I even applied to Miss World Canada in the first place is to be an advocate for girls that felt the same way that I did. We are all beautiful. We are all deserving of love and opportunities. No one should feel like they are not good enough… .. Also as you can see in the news..we are all segregated. There is a lot of racism happening not only in Canada, but around the world. I want to represent Canada as a visible minority and immigrant. Yes, people that look more like me have placed less in these kinds of events, but I believe change is possible. I want to use this opportunity to connect with people in the community. I want to hear their voices. I want to understand them. We cannot expect change without having the heart to listen. There are a lot more things I want to do.. especially for the young children that look up to this generation. We need to do better. We need to change. I want to bring change and unify our community. I want to uplift others and raise awareness on child and youth mental health.
I attended the Ontario provincials on July 18-19 of 2020, and to my lovely surprise, I was one of the nine that was chosen to compete for Nationals! From this moment on, my life started to take a positive turn. I was getting so much support from my peers, friends, family and even strangers. Many people have come up to me to tell me that I was an inspiration to them. Also when I REALLY THINK ABOUT IT, without the tough times that I endured, I would not have even considered running for Miss World Canada.
I think that the tough times made me seek opportunities, friendship, community, discipline, love and purpose. It really built my character and a strong feeling of desperation that drove me to try something completely different. I never thought that I would be here today. In fact, I was never a big fan of pageants. But now that I am here preparing for Nationals, I can say that it was the best decision I have made. It helped me discover who I am, what I am capable of, and what I want to achieve. I have been busy and I LOVE IT. This also created lots of opportunities for me. I was featured on Korea Times Daily a few times and many people supported my fundraiser for Children’s Wish charity. I have also been hired at a youth mental health clinic/treatment centre as a psychiatric crisis worker. So yes, my life has taken a great turn and everything has been great! I’ve been happy, going out and living my life with purpose!
So I guess I did reach my goal for 2020 (to become a different person). It was all thanks to the tough, difficult times that helped build character, resilience, strength and discipline. In times of uncertainty, worry and frustration, you truly learn the most about who you are and what you can do to overcome these tough times. Although it sucks when you’re in tough situations, it is so rewarding once you get to the other side.
To the people that are going through tough times right now, I just want to say this. Just hang on. There will be light at the end of the tunnel. There is purpose to what you are going through right now. When you feel like you hit rock bottom, the only other way to go is up. So keep fighting and I promise.. that it’ll all be worth it. It’s normal to feel broken and empty. We’re only human. Without the tough times, you can’t appreciate the good times. I don’t even know how many countless of nights I have spent crying, tossing and turning in bed, watching sad movies to make myself feel better, and so many other things that may seem silly. I think the best you can do is to believe and try your best. It will get better, YOU will be better.
I tried my best. I didn’t give up. I endured. I fought hard. I survived. YOU WILL TOO.