I have always considered myself lucky, because I gained exposure to different things since young.

That included going to activity classes outside of school in arts and crafts and ballet dancing to name a few, before age 6.

But I was not the typical good student as one would expect from a little Chinese girl from a traditional family.

I was made to sit in the art and craft class and do as I was told, to replicate a picture with some colour paper, crayons and glue stick. I got the idea of the sample given by the teacher and decided I can make a better version, so I did just that.

The teacher saw I was not doing “the work” and told me that my picture looked very ugly and told me to sit aside alone to do my work.

Thinking back, the teacher was so mean to shame a little girl like that. After all, what is the big deal of not being able to copy a picture? But the impact of the negative comments could be devastating to a kid. Luckily, at that time, I was thrilled because I got her “permission” to make my own art and I was so proud of my work as I took it home because I personally loved it.

As you can guess, many of such incidents happened, my ballet teacher thought I was doing Chinese martial art because I was spinning so fast and doing strong kicks adapting the basics into my preferred movements. Then I ended up taking kung fu classes…

Now, as an adult, I am proud of my young self to keep the joy of creating despite the rejection of authoritative figures. This is what art should be about, the joy of creating and adding in one’s unique touches.

As an adult, I encourage young children to do just that.