Hello, I am Caroline Quah and this is my transformational story. Before I begin, I would like to ask, if my readers are familiar with how stalagmites are formed?
Stalagmites are upward-growing mounds of minerals found in caves, whereby they are formed by water being incrementally precipitated down to the floor. Likewise, this is a key theme of my transformational journey – incremental growth like solid stalagmites over the years.
It was a rather tumultuous journey growing up in a B40 Baba Nyonya family, as we had very strict rules to abide by and how to be competent and socially adept at a very young age. Whenever we did anything wrong, we would be verbally or physically abused. In addition, I was not aware that I was being sexually abused by a family member until my brother’s friend informed me at the age of 18, about what he witnessed when he was staying with my family and I for a period of time back then.
I started noticing myself in secondary school, how I often felt inadequate compared to my peers, in looks, soft skills, and making friends. There was hardly a day in the week where I did not cry, and every time any family member saw that I was crying, they would tell me to toughen up and quit crying for attention.
In all of these, what really pulled me through was God. Regardless of what phase of life it was, God somehow always sent different people to help me at different points in life, just before I would throw in the towel. I made healthy and unhealthy friends throughout my primary and secondary school and it was also a process of really discerning who was there for me. Amazing folks that helped me out of my depressive and suicidal state, my fellow friends saving up money to help pay for my tuition, and my siblings who helped me find part time jobs.
After high school, my parents could not afford to pay for my studies so I went to work full time as a tuition teacher whilst pursuing my diploma in Psychology part time. When I received news from my friend that INTI university had a psychology course that also had amazing financial arrangements, I embarked on that journey too. All the while, pushing myself to grow. I always had a plan and back up plans, but never really imagined how my growth would turn out. I just took it one step at a time and really just poured my heart and mind out when discerning the very next steps of life. My main motto is ‘Kindness in Truth’, just as how the folks in my life have guided, listened, and gave me wise counsel, cultivated the person that I am today. I would not have it any other way, just as how stalagmites were incrementally formed, these folks formed me and now I can pay it forward to form others from a healthy space.