– A written interview with Cassandra Chiu, psychotherapist, counsellor and Founder of The Safe Harbour Counselling Centre
She has the limelight. From winning sports competitions and honours like Singapore Woman of the Year 2012, to speaking at ASEAN Young Leader Series in World Economic Forum ASEAN Summit 2017 and many other events at the invitation of businesses and organizations across Asia, Cassandra Chiu is shining with light that inspires and illuminates others.
What we do not see in her moment of glamour and glitz, is the incredibly challenging journey she has been through personally and professionally. The challenges she has overcome to have come this far, the struggles that is still present in her daily life, and her undertaking to do even more in the future, are beyond the limelight unseen by the public’s eyes. In this interview with Cassandra, let us explore some of these topics to understand this amazing woman’s reality.
The Journey Here
It must have taken her a lot to get here. We asked Cassandra to recount her early life challenges and how she had overcome them:
Cassandra: My earliest challenges were to fit in despite my disability, to be ‘normal’ and be accepted. I went out of my way to do my best in everything, and as we adults know, that is not quite possible or sustainable, but that’s another story.
ReSET: What’s your motivation that kept you going?
Cassandra: My motivation comes from wanting to proof to myself that I can do it too, just like everyone else. And my swimming coach and mother always drummed into me that “ if there is a will, you’ll find a way”.
The Backstage of a Professional Practice
Starting a career as a professional is no mean feat. Her beginning was even more challenging because of the perceived disadvantage of her disability. Not admitting defeat, Cassandra continued to work hard in her practice as a psychotherapist, counselor over the years. She has created her own successful counselling practice that has helped many persons through their own emotional struggles in life.
ReSET: Could you describe some of the major challenges in running a practice?
Cassandra: I love the counselling part of the business, but marketing is not one of my strengths; especially for a technically challenged person like me in the age of digital disruptions. I avoided learning for the longest time, but my age-old belief drummed into me by my mother and coach that keeps me going. I am currently taking baby steps in learning all about putting my counselling practice out there on the World Wide Web. I am finding renewed joy in learning.
Life is a Happy Struggle
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill
ReSET: Could you describe some challenges you still face in your daily life and how are you dealing with them?
Cassandra: We all face challenges, and mine is no different from most working mothers, juggling the commitments of being the best mother I can be, running the counselling practice, preparing for the speaking engagements, the advocacy and consultation, etc. The work that I do sometimes feels like I have 3 or 4 full time jobs!
I make it a point to take time out for myself every morning, choosing to wake an hour earlier, to engage in what I call my power hour spent exercising, meditating, and reading. This keeps me recharged and grounded. It helps me start my day fresh and geared up to face whatever comes my way.
A Moonlit Path
We each have our own destiny and calling in life. Finding our own paths takes time, and most importantly, courage to be truthful to who we are.
Could you share with us the vision of what you want to build, your calling, what you would be doing differently a few years down the road? Is it more advocacy and speaking work?
Cassandra: I enjoy the diversity of my different roles. It gives me the ability to step away and come back with a refreshed perspective to the task in front of me. I am lucky in that way that I don’t have 1 but 2 callings. Advocating and speaking up, trying to nudge society towards a better inclusion of the disabled. And helping others towards a happier and more fulfilled life through my counselling and speaking. I would not trade them in as I feel truly connected with my calling. I hope to grow into the best version of myself in the coming years.
Like this article? You might also be interested in the other articles in this category of Inspirations and Interviews: