Recently when I met friends who had not seen me for months, I was told that my countenance seemed brighter than before. Specifically, they said I glow. Between the last time they met me and now, several changes took place in my life. Most notably was the addition of a romantic partner. My social life changed too – I became more focused on cultivating relationships with friends and family, and less bogged down by my own worries and concerns. My daily social interactions increased, I felt lighter, and that’s apparent outwardly.

Yuin Yin and I with two other passengers posing in front of the helicopter before our flight

My outer appearance was evidence of what was inside of me. Having a romantic partner who valued the qualities that I have gave me confidence in myself which boosted my self-esteem. I learned to love myself. I started to have a perpetual inner joy. My heart smiles.

Self-esteem is closely associated with one’s will power and personal power. If you have weak personal power in some aspects of life, it affects your general self-esteem insidiously. Not many would notice it, but I had low self-esteem when it came to my financial standing. Most people saw my Heart4Hope campaign as a symbol of strength and perseverance. I was raising funds by my own efforts – by selling a book I authored and t-shirts that represent my cause. Something not many in my position was willing to do. That gave me dignity to an extent.

But there was always an element of charity to it. Maybe it’s because of the age at which I created the Heart4Hope campaign. I was only 19. Everyone saw me as a little sister to be cared for. They either wanted me to focus on obtaining my degree, become a certified psychologist, author books, live with bare minimum or stay frugal and simple, and my needs will be somehow supplied – by others.

Already, I had a fear of being misjudged as a greedy and materialistic person due to some misunderstandings that happened in the family during childhood. Later public expectations of me compounded that heart issue of mine.

It was a major internal struggle. People expected me to live in ways that would generate continuous public support to me by way of charity. They expected me to live in ways that would gain me public approval and compassion. Yet, these expectations that people conceived through their own assumptions did not tally with my real life. I am not that kind of person, or I wouldn’t have created the Heart4Hope campaign. I did what was necessary for survival at that time.

But as I matured and have adult responsibilities, I need and WANT to do what’s necessary to meet my daily needs as an adult. That includes my role as a daughter, as a girlfriend, as a friend, as a community member, and even as a Foundation director.

Yes, I need to use my own money to set up A Celebration of Life foundation, too. I can’t just ask the public to give me some money so I can cover the Foundation’s cost of operation. What if they don’t?

For instance, I recently invested RM1,400.00 (after discount) to create a website for the Foundation – I used money from my own bank account which I earned and saved. I didn’t want to appeal to the public to cover this minor expense, which is small in comparison to the RM1.0mil that the Foundation needs to collect in order to be registered.

If I didn’t earn that money, I wouldn’t have it. I would still be at the mercy of public generosity, and I would never have the personal power to pursue this big ambition to set up a public charitable foundation.

Besides, people tend to forget that I don’t receive pocket money from my parents, I never have. Others in my predicament might be supplied financially by their family members, but not me.

2012 changed this aspect of my life. By some divine arrangement, I ended up becoming part of a church near where I live. Incidentally, this church focuses on training leadership and economic empowerment – two qualities that are essential in fulfilling my life purpose. Today, I no longer feel guilty, I no longer fear disapproval for desiring to strengthen my financial ability through ways that others might not identify with – through a network marketing business.

At the end of the day, it is I who pay the bills. Not the people who impose expectations on me.

When my self-esteem in relation to money and finance improved, it boosted my personal power, which gave my heart peace and inner joy.

Now, with more clarity in my heart, I can recognize the reasons that make people impose expectations on me to live in certain ways. It is their own issue – fears and hurts – associated with money that they project onto me. Recognizing this, I have decided not to carry their burdens.

Yvonne Foong

As a child, Yvonne Foong dreamed of growing up to help others. To achieve her ambition, she began studying to become a psychologist. But things changed when tumours were discovered in her body at the age of sixteen. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 -- a genetic illness with no cure. Fighting for survival, Yvonne turned to fundraising and embarked on a medical odyssey to the United States. Her experiences since then have transformed her into a motivational speaker; inspiring hope, faith and strength. Yvonne is currently working to establish a humanitarian foundation that provides NF patients in Malaysia with financial and logistical support. Visit Works of Gratitude to learn more.

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