Defining Moments? What are they? A defining moment is something that has created an impact on your life, whether it’s how you see the world, or how you see yourself contextually to your surroundings. Defining moments don’t have to be very big to have a big impact.
Let me tell you a story:
There was a little girl who was born with a birth defect (bilateral cleft lip and palate) and before she started school didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until she started school that she noticed that by her looking different to the other kids made a huge impact on her being able to make friends quickly, fitting in and being liked. She was teased relentlessly by the boys in the playground on a daily basis and called names like train tracks and fat lip. <These days women are injecting their lips to make them fat….I guess I was ahead of my time>. She was also physically kicked in the shins and often went home from school with new bruises and at times bleeding because the bruises never had a time to heal.
One day after one and a half years of this torture, the little girl approached her teacher in year 1 and told her she was being bullied as she just wanted it to stop. The little girl was raised to be a “good girl” be seen and not heard, so going up to the teacher to proclaim this injustice was going against her grain. The teacher pointed at the door yelling “GO AWAY DON’T TELL TATTLE TALES!”. The little girl walked away with her head down, embarrassed and shamed.
From that one moment her beliefs had transformed her inside world to:
- My feelings don’t count
- I’m less than everyone else
- My truths were considered lies
- Those in authority turn a blind eye
To the outside world, her behaviours displayed were such that she:
- Allowed people overstep her boundaries
- Became Perfectionist and a People Pleaser
- Stayed Invisible
- Suffered from Anxiety and Depression
Bottom-line – It was all about survival.
I didn’t know this at the time, but I grew up with those beliefs. Those beliefs shaped every thought, every feeling, every decision and every action or inaction in my life. I was 6 years old.
Beliefs are like our own truth to information around us. So I was of the belief that because I was “different” that I deserved to be treated less than everyone else. I just wanted to be “Normal” so that I wouldn’t get bullied and be equal to everyone else and be given a fair go. But I spent my whole life feeling like “I wasn’t good enough”. Over time this can be quite exhausting, debilitating and destructive.
Who’s ever been burned drinking a hot cup of coffee? You know for next time you will blow on it, look to see if there’s steam coming out, touch it before you taste it right? Sometimes it can fool us and we get burned again. So over time it’s repeated and reinforced, so it becomes true. Each time you get a hot cup of coffee you’re guaranteed to get burned if you are not cautious.
To add insult to injury:
My Parents migrated to Australia in the 1950s from Europe. They were termed “New Australians” by society. At the time, the laws when entering Australia were, you had to “Assimilate” “To Fit In” “Be the same” as everyone else. Leave your culture behind. It was hard times, and my parents had it hard like all migrants of that time. Leaving their war-torn countries behind, family and friends to come to a land of opportunity for themselves and for their future children. They found it tough and they were born normal. So they feared for me and my future, considering I was born with special needs.
They saw the bullying that was going on at school at the time and were at their wits end to know what to do about it.
My parents were pretty open about their fears for me, and always drummed into me that “Education was Power”. Their fears became my ambitions.
So I channelled their fears into my studies, I was at the bottom of my classes in year 7 but by the time I was in year 10 I was in academic maths, English, science, music and religion. By year 12 I was in the top 10% of NSW for Biology and Music and I had gotten into the Degree of my choice Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Wollongong.
Whenever I’m working with teens to bring out their potential through Leadership Coaching and Development, I never write them off because I am of the belief that “it’s not how you start off in life that counts, it’s how you choose to live it.” Go out there, Be you, have courage and live life with no limits! As featured in the publication ThriveGlobal.