A memoir by our co-founder, Kryshana
Part 1 | Quiet, Quirky
I must’ve been 5 years old, and I already had my routine down. Every day, I followed my father around our house in the morning as he started his day — down his narrow but long closet while he picked out the suit he’d wear that day, and then to the dining table where he had his tea every morning (sweet, very sweet– just the way he liked it)—and then he’d get in the car and off to work.
As he started his day, I gave him a daily download on mine — my thoughts on the kids in my kindergarten class, what I planned on doing at school and all the #humblebrags a kid could come up with in 60 minutes.
My father and I always had a special bond, and so much of my admiration for him carried me for so many years and shaped who I’d eventually become.
Part 2 | The Courage to Be
There were two pivotal shifts in my childhood that really influenced my person. The first was the birth of my brother when I was 6. My parents made a pretty big deal about the new baby, and I was jazzed. I was ready for someone to look up to me the way I looked up to my dad. Of course, things don’t always turn out the way you picture them at 6 years old. Today, I look up to my little brother more than he does me. He’s a go-getter if there ever was one, always beating us to the punch, and exceeding all natural expectations.
Having a brother taught me instinctually what it means to be protective of another human being, to love someone more than yourself, and to want to share everything you have with another person. As we’ve gotten older, he’s become one of my very best friends. Though I’d like to say he makes me proud, I can only hope I make him proud. That over achiever!
The second shift wasn’t quite as pretty. When I was 11 years old, my parents separated and subsequently got a divorce. They hadn’t fought or ever had an argument in front of me (not that I can recall now, at least). As amicable as it was, it was confusing. I didn’t know why this was happening. What I knew was that I needed to be there for my brother (only 5 at the time). During what was an incredibly trying time for our family, I saw both my mom and dad step up in incredible ways. My mom was steadfast. She didn’t miss a beat — not a single PTA meeting, school performance, sports day, swim meet or living room dance party. My dad was resilient in his resolve to be there for us — and he taught us that it takes courage to make the right decisions no matter how difficult the choice may be and no matter how others may perceive it to be.
Part 3 | Dreams, really?
Divorce aside, my father saw much struggle in his life — growing up in a family barely making minimum wage, battling cancer in his thirties, bankruptcy and beating bankruptcy. He knew growing up that he wanted to be a doctor, but his family couldn’t afford it. He worked as a clerk at a law firm and after a year, one of the partners was so impressed with him that he arranged a bank loan for him to read law. The loan only covered his tuition– so he worked 7 days a week as a waiter in an Indian restaurant to put himself through law school and went on to finish his Bachelor of Laws, and then a Masters, and then 2 PhDs! He became a leading lawyer and educator in Malaysia, and even earned himself a knighthood.
This story isn’t about him. But it’s his struggle in life that convinced me early on that I wanted to be a doctor as well. (to fulfill his dream) I pushed myself really f***ing hard. It paid off when I was accepted into a pre-med program.
Little did I know how my life would take a turn for the better.
Part 4 | Me, a doctor?
So it began — my journey to becoming doctor. I started my first day as a pre-med student. I walked down the halls of my new found home to my first class, Chemistry and Biology books in hand. 3 months and 2 days went by — and CRASH! I broke down. I’d always wanted to fulfill my father’s dream, but never stepped back to think about what I wanted. What I thought I wanted was to follow in his footsteps, but I never realized there was more than one way to do that.
What my dad really taught me was to be unapologetically myself, to do what I love most, and to chase what makes me happy. During this very emotional (mildly melodramatic) moment in my life, my parents reminded me that the only person whose dreams I needed to fulfill were my own.
Only, I needed to figure out what my dreams were.
I had to remind myself of the things that bring me joy, and eventually, after many classes and conversations, I decided that design school was where I wanted to go. And this time, I worked really f***ing hard to achieve my own dreams.
Part 5 | Today, Tomorrow
All of this has led me to where I am today. I’ve enjoyed the many twists and turns of my career going down the various paths of design, marketing, presentations, writing and communications!
What I’ve learned is that I can still follow in my father’s footsteps without charting a path in his dreams. He taught me to have dreams of my own, to chart my own path, and to follow the stories that inspire me most. I’m realizing that it’s ok to just be who I am and every day I am learning to appreciate that person more.
This fight is never finished — we have to keep fighting, hustling, learning and becoming every day. Every day brings new challenges and lessons. And right now my dream is to be able to help leaders, founders, dreamers and believers to tell their stories. Because every story has the power to affect hearts and minds!