Canberra Liberal MLA Elizabeth Lee recently participated in the #IcanrunAustralia campaign, promoting the message to young girls and women to be their own inspiration.
Ms Lee, who was touted as the next Liberal chief minister at the last election, was brave enough to post some photographs of her younger self, as well as pen a letter to her "younger me".
"All those pics are in hard copy in an album at mum and dad's place so I had to rely on their judgment ... thanks mum for the perm when I was two!," Ms Lee wrote on her Facebook page.
She was kind enough to let us print her letter.
Dear Younger Me,
You're born as the oldest and you will be joined by two younger sisters – Rosa two years younger so you won't ever remember life without her; and Sara nine years younger so you become like a second mother to her.
You will spend the first seven years of your life in Korea and from a young age your dad will be the greatest influence and inspiration in your life. Sometimes he will say things that may not always make sense straight away or sound a bit daggy but bear with him – every lesson he teaches you is a nugget of gold and you will repeat them to your sisters, then to your students and then in speeches as you grow into a parliamentarian!
When your parents decide to migrate to Australia, you don't know what a huge move that is. Your parents are leaving behind their family, their culture and their language to start a new life; a new life that will create the best opportunities for you and your sisters to dream big and live big.
At about age 13 you will stop growing (in height that is)! So the kids you started high school with at the same height will all be towering over you by the time you graduate. Don't let this get to you. Being small has its advantages and it will not stop you from reaching for your dreams.
You will not realise until much later that you could even hope to dream that you could become a Member of Parliament. That's because it will happen all in good time and every experience you have leading up to that moment is to prepare you to be the best elected representative you can be.
Some key moments when you were growing up will remain with you well into adulthood and they're all pieces of the big jigsaw that will lead you to becoming a leader in your community.
Lesson from dad: "you're the needle and your sisters are the thread. Wherever the needle goes, the thread will follow" will almost become your own mantra as you constantly remind yourself to set a good example for your sisters, for your students and then for the good people of Kurrajong.
Life won't be smooth sailing and through difficult times of family financial hardship, being teased at school for dad's garbage truck, sudden boobs at age nine and your Asian face – they're all experiences that build your resilience and understanding of why people act the way they do.
Being raised by parents who did not believe there's nothing girls can't achieve, you are given opportunities for piano lessons, tae kwon do and even computer tutoring. You have no idea at the time how much your parents sacrificed to give you and your sisters these opportunities. Be grateful to them.
And so it will come as a bit of a surprise to you as you go into your professional life that you are not always going to be judged on your merit, character and work ethic. Sometimes you will be judged for your looks – curves as well as your Asian face. Do not allow these negative experiences tear you down and determine your worth. You have so much growing to do and you have so much more to give.
Your pursuit into leadership roles start slow. You become a "joiner" and soon you pinch yourself at how lucky you are to be invited to international conferences in your capacity as Chair of the Australian Young Lawyers. Luck has something to do with it but, as you learnt from your mum, do not underestimate how hard you worked to be afforded those opportunities. Never underestimate yourself and value what you do. If you don't, you can't expect anyone else to.
Every decision you make – make sure it's for the right reasons. Don't allow glamour, status or flattery to seduce you into doing something that is not for you. You know your strengths and weaknesses better than you realise. Listen to yourself.
Your political journey is not an easy one. You will see the best of people and you will see the worst of people. There will be more than once when you will want to throw it all in and walk away. Don't. Facing adversity and challenges are opportunities to learn and grow. Acknowledge and embrace the fact that you will continue to learn for the rest of your life.
Know that putting your hand up to be an elected Member of Parliament is an enormous privilege. The job of representing and advocating for people who may not be in a position to do it for themselves is a unique and special role that you must take on with a strong sense of duty and service.
Remember those that inspired you and supported you to get you to that privileged position and know that when you are in that position, you must do the same for others. And that is a
pretty extraordinary thing. Treasure it.
Your Present Me.