As passionate story-tellers, we have been lucky enough to be surrounded by so many stories which often leave us feeling inspired and thankful. We felt the need to share them with you which is why we introduced the Carrie K. Inspiring Women series, a collection of real personal stories by inspiring ladies and their story on love, strength and resilience.
Chapter 2: Nadya Hutagalung
Who is she?
Former artiste and eco-centric jewellery designer, Nadya Hutagalung, has conquered it all. Entering the international spotlight at a mere age of 12, Nadya has become a household name across all of Asia as her fame sky-rocketed. Now, a supermom of three and a passionate eco-activist, she utilises her influential platform to speak out about environmental issues. En-route to marching on to shape and inspire the next generation of eco-warriors, she has never looked back ever since.
We sat down with Nadya to talk about one of the most challenging moment in her life where she felt like she was no longer in control and how she overcame it. Watch her full video interview below as she shares her story. Alternatively, you may wish to skip to The Dialogue.
From the outside, you are strong, fearless and self-assured. Was there ever a time where you were faced with a challenge you thought you could not overcome? And how did you overcome it?
I think there is this perception that everyone’s got it all together and that the reality is that we don’t. The great majority of the time and myself included. I had a wonderful lesson a couple of years back when I did a women’s writing course and there were 10 gorgeous women. Established, beautiful, high-achieving and amazing women during this course together and part of this journey was that we have to tell our stories. We had 15 minutes to tell our stories in whichever format. Whether it was writing, through short-film, through photography or any creative form. And what was incredible through this story-telling was that out of these 10 women, 9 had been abused physically, sexually, or psychologically throughout their lives and there were a lot of emotional distress that these women had been through. Yet, none of us knew. But what happened was, two things that were very interesting that happened. One was each of us let go of our own victim stories about how hard our lives is and how wonderful someone else’s life is. That sort of assuming, these stories that we tell ourselves, what a perfect life she has or how amazing her husband is, how great her kids are, what an awesome family.
Those stories are stories that we tell ourselves but they are not really reality. The other thing that happened is that you’d immediately foster a greater sense of empathy. Because when you hear someone else’s stories and when you hear it fully. And when it is totally based on trust, which we need to be more proactive about creating in our communities. Now, that empathy arises and I see you, I feel you. I am here if you need ever need anything. And sometimes it is just listening.
For myself, my own personal story, I’ve been through a lot in my life. I have had a fairly unconventional life. And I have also come from a background of 8 years of abuse as well. And kidnapped as a kid. So there’s a lot. But I have always been able to just get up and carry on and move forward. I think because I felt like I just have to carry on, I have got to be strong and I have no choice. But in 2018, it was really interesting because, for the first time in my life, I was not in control of my mind. I was having panic attacks, anxiety and I ended up in a hospital in Bali and I thought I was going to die.
They checked on my stats and they said I was just having a panic attack. I was like, “Really? This is a panic attack?”. For the night we left Bali, and ended up in Singapore, and went to see another doctor because I wanted a second opinion. They put me on more medication again and I said I really don’t like this. Primarily because I try not to take medication in general. If I am sick I let it come and go and deal my own immunity. So having to take this medicine was something that was quite foreign to me and I didn’t really enjoy that. So I thought I’d get another opinion from an Australian doctor. And they put me on more medication. That was really challenging for me for the first time in my life not being in control of my own mind and not being able to sort of say hey, just get up on carry on. But I am so grateful for that period because what happened was, in the past when I thought I was a compassionate individual, I didn’t understand that people were going through things that were only going through things that only had to do with own their mindset and perception. Why they couldn’t just snap out of it. And going through this experience, helped me also develop a much, much deeper understanding in the sense of empathy and care for those who are having struggles that are to do with their minds. And that’s for me, I think I put a lot more pressure on myself. I have been actively pursuing the understanding of the mind for at least 16 years. Through the study of Buddhism and science of the mind and neuro-psychology. And so I felt this additional pressure on myself. Like how could this happen to me?
It just goes to show that no matter who you are, there are opportunity or occasions in life that sometimes that just arise and just take you by surprise. And that is okay. There are times that will be hard and we won’t know how to manage. And there are people out there who have incredible tools to help us to navigate through these times and that is also okay. Because we can’t be expected to know everything and have all the tools all the time. Because life is just so colourful. There are different people with different palettes that can help you. Maybe you are missing a few colours in your palette of well-being and there are people out there who have these colours that suit your stage of life.
So how did I get through it? Through a lot of dedicated work, I really was very proactive in my own healing. It really does boil down to you and how much you want to heal yourself, either physically or mentally. There are the tools out there but you have to want to do it. You have to be curious, you have to be open and you have to be hyper-engaged in that and you know really what happened for me was that I ended up.. I am super grateful that I have incredible teachers and guides in my life and I ended up having a private audience with the holiness, the Dalai Lama’s and from that moment on, I was fine. You know everyone’s got their own way and I am just grateful that I have had that access.
How do you psyche yourself when you are faced with a tough situation?
For me, the more challenging and harder life gets, the busier I get, the further in I would go. So I get really diligent about my mornings and usually I don’t take anything before 10 o’clock in the morning because that is my time to really ground and find my focus and set my intention and motivation for the day and then I am like a thousand times more productive.
What fuels your positivity?
I really think it is understanding our human potential. Because we humans have access to so much wisdom and knowledge, and growth. It blows my mind sometimes. I am constantly learning something and that is like, wow, I didn’t realise I was capable of doing that and so that is just what I think fuels my positivity.
What is my mission in life?
I would say maybe to live my life to my fullest potential. To be able to create meaningful impact wherever I go, whatever I do, and to constantly be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.
The Starburst Collection is about new beginnings. If you were to start something afresh and know that you would succeed, what would you do?
If it was to do with my life, probably nothing. Aside from not listening to the advice that my early childhood coach gave for my youngest (child). Because she was really militant. “Don’t touch them if they are crying, just let them be for 15 minutes and they will fall asleep on their own.”
Kids will drink the bathwater, they will chew on the shoelaces and they’ll lick the floors, just let them be. And I thought to myself, if I was the parent that I was when I had my youngest, the only thing I would change would be to (give) so much more love. But I followed the advice, I was young mom and to just let them be and don’t touch them. There was this kind of thinking back then and that is very much not who I am today and not who I would love to be as a mom. If anything, that is all I would change. The rest I wouldn’t change because all of those things that have manifested in my life were just meant to be the way they were to bring me to where I am today. So yea, I wouldn’t change anything.
What is the most important piece of life advice you would always give to your children?
I do hope for them to always be kind. I think that is the most important thing. You can be successful and mean and all these kinds of things. But I think the most important human trait that we need more now and increasingly more as the world gets tougher is just kindness.
As Featured On Nadya:
Rings: Starburst Statement Ring
About the collection
According to astrologists, a starburst galaxy is formed with the collision of two galaxies, resulting in the formation of new stars. Hence, the Starburst Collection is a poignant reminder that stars can be born from unexpected challenges. Through this collection, we hope to inspire strength, resilience and light to anyone who needs it.