Lesson one: how to deal with disappointment and broken dreams

My dad never graduated high school. He came from a poor, large family of nine children and had to work at fourteen years old to try to make ends meet. At seventeen his then girlfriend (my mom) fell pregnant and he married her to raise his child. His greatest regret was not finishing school. He was smart and had dreams of being a lawyer. Although he never achieved his dream, he worked hard over the years and did well for himself, getting himself a good job first in the Philippines, and later when our family migrated to Australia, he rose through the ranks of the company he worked for. That company eventually made him redundant but he bounced back and started his own business. His business did well and the company hired him back as a contractor. Throughout the many downturns in his life, he learned to bounce back through hard work and determination.

I have experienced my own downturns in life. I graduated from law school, fulfilling my dad’s dream, however, I didn’t find success in law. I ended up in publishing and doing well in it for a while, until I got made redundant a few years later. I bounced back eventually and now in a different line of career. My dad’s example through his own adversities provided a model for me to learn, for which I am grateful.

Lesson two: don’t let being a woman hold you back

My dad has five daughters, including me, but he never raised us as princesses. He raised us to be strong, independent women. When we were growing up, my dad was strict, always making sure we did our homework, not letting us play outside for an extended period, giving us chores and responsibilities from a very young age. He taught us the value discipline, hard work and perseverance, and taught us that this is the key to success. He used to say we can be whatever we wanted to be, and being a woman should not hold us back. It’s only now that I’m older that I see the value of what my dad taught me. When I look at me and my sisters, we have achieved so much in our lives, much more than my dad had achieved. We are highly educated, with successful, well paying jobs, and this is all due to the lessons he imparted to us.

Lesson three: learn to thrive in challenging situations

My parents migrated to Australia with very little possessions and not much language skills. Within two weeks of arriving in Sydney, my dad found a job as a coffee machine operator. They put him to work at the back of the shop because of his lack of English so that he didn’t have to talk to customers. Over time he learned the language, and learned it so well that years later when he had his own successful customer-facing business, he would often get repeat customers (and some who had become his friends) and many recommendations for a job well done. He learned to adapt to a foreign language and a foreign culture, and thrived in it. This is the attitude I strive to emulate in my own personal life. I can’t say I’ve succeeded at this yet, however, I strive to do my best to make the most of whatever situation I find myself in, and to follow my dad’s example in thriving in challenging situations.

Happy father’s day dad, thank you for the valuable life lessons you’ve imparted to me. I am who I am today because of you.