I turned forty and my life changed. I’d just given birth to my first child, a daughter the year before and I decided that if there was ever a time to do what I loved, that time was now. Somehow her birth gave me the courage to search for the authenticity that had been missing in my life.
I was lucky, I’d had an enriching career as a political adviser and later as a chief of staff in federal politics for under a decade. While the hours and travel were punishing, it was the most stimulating and challenging work I had ever had the luck to stumble into. I had never been politically inclined in my life, I had graduated from university as a lawyer and following the path that all good Chinese children are expected, I went into corporate practice. It was a disaster for all sorts of reasons, and after a while, I found myself unemployed and at an utter loss as to what to do with my life. I barely coped without structure and routine, I applied for numerous jobs but nothing eventuated and I fell into a crevasse. My ego revolted and insecurity threw pity parties where the rest of the gang – anxiety, and depression eulogised the sorry state of my life.
But that changed when I began volunteering at a community legal centre at my husband’s urging. Each office in the centre looked like a repository more than anything else, bulging case files competed with the furniture for space – all of them pleas from people seeking a better life for themselves or their families. It opened my eyes to the stream of humanity who were desperately seeking the most fundamental rights that I took for granted – security and freedom. Then came the day that changed my life. One of the migration agents I worked with asked if I would be interested in providing research on immigration/refugee issues for a Senator. I agreed and it led to a most unexpected career shift.
But fast forward seven years later, a bruising loss in the 2007 Federal election saw the party obliterated from the electoral map. I found myself working in an executive role in the community sector for an agency that settled refugees. The work was rewarding, the people I worked with were passionate to a fault, and the harrowing and sometimes heartbreaking stories justified why this work was so crucial. But there was a restless stirring within, I was searching for something. I didn’t know what but the insistence began to get louder. So I filled my life with constant distractions – travel, retail therapy – but it never lasted, and I would find myself back in the same place, only more unhappy.
It was only after I had my first child that something shifted. Being a parent gave me a different perspective, it cleared away the noise I surrounded myself with and gave me the courage to explore a passion which had laid dormant for years. I wanted to write. I have always wanted to write. So as this new chapter begins, I can’t promise there will be riches or even successes, but I can guarantee there will be authenticity as I pursue this license to live a creative life. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey too.