Nothing is better than a story about making it on your own, but if I’m being perfectly honest – I haven’t. If there is one thing I have learned up until now, it’s that it’s the company you keep that lifts you higher.
The Company You Keep.
Photos by Bella Li.
My name is Krystina Lau. I’m 22 and a Legal Studies student at the University of Waterloo. I’ve lived half my life in Alberta, and half in Ontario, and for the past 4 years, Waterloo has been my home. Next year is a year of change and I’ll be moving to Toronto to pursue a legal career. While I’ve been prepping myself for law school down the line, a political career has also always been very appealing to me. What I am sure of is that I want to be an advocate for people, and maybe that will be in a courtroom, or maybe in parliament.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to go through university along side my high school friends. Against the odds, we ended up in the same city split between two major universities that are down the street from each other. We moved away from home together, lived together, studied together, and now we are in the beginnings of our professional lives together. The more I step back and look, I realize that although we owe it to our individual selves how far we’ve come, we also in a way owe our individual selves to each other. We are who we are because we have fostered an environment in our friendship that is driving and empowering. And not to mention, all of them have great taste in clothes (I have 3 extra closets I can raid for a workday!).
Let me tell you a little about these women.
[ From left to right: Tegan | Alyana | Krystina | Kayla ]
Tegan is a go-getter communications major at Laurier University, and volunteers by hosting the television talk show Daytime Oxford on the local network in our hometown of Woodstock. Her fashion always rises to the occasion of her next endeavour.
Kayla is a marketing whiz that has worked jobs in Tanzania, at a start-up in Canada’s technology hub in Kitchener-Waterloo and at CIBC in the financial district in downtown Toronto. She has a fashion that’s classic, however she’s not afraid to come out with something bold.
Alyana is another marketing mind we have in our group. She currently works for the private school TMS in Richmond Hill. Her thing: shoes. I would describe her style as professional-chic.
As four very independent and individual people, we are the perfect what I like to call “indirect support system” for each other. I like to think of it as this – these women have helped me in my professional development indirectly and without actually doing anything, just by being who they are. Kayla on a whim took her first co-op job in Africa, which pushed me to go for the abroad term I was thinking about, landing me in a study term at the UiO law school in Norway. Tegan is unquestionably loyal and supportive, so I’m not afraid to fail. Alyana is meticulous and responsible, and so I am grounded.
It happens often where you lose contact with your high school friends, which makes me even more grateful that I haven’t. What I hope you get out of this read is a reminder of the non-traditional ways to develop yourself professionally. I mean non-traditional in the sense that while in a business driven world it is important to network and market yourself, it is equally as important to remember where you came from. Stick with those who have not only helped you get to where you are, but have also helped make you into who you are.
The point I am trying to get across is that (a) you must surround yourself with the people who are going to encourage you to succeed, (b) you must pay it forward and take your individual experiences that make you a stronger woman, and use them to strengthen others, and (c) if you did make it on your own (and props to you), you must continue to seek and foster rewarding relationships that not only make yourself better, but inspire others to be better as well.
When I’m choosing an outfit, I go for what I’m going to feel confident in and choose pieces that compliment each other. So just like picking out an outfit in the morning, I will continue to dress myself with people who make me feel confident, and with people who inspire and push me professionally by simply being who they are. The four of us used to borrow each other’s clothes for the high school dance, and now we borrow each other’s clothes for interviews and conferences. And in the future – maybe for court or for a campaign rally, I will do more than just borrow an outfit. I will also borrow from the walk-in sized closet of life lessons they have taught me, and I will accessorize myself with their confidence and support in me – because I know that they’re going to be there.
The four of us could not be more different, but the common denominator is that we all want each other to succeed, and most times, that is just the push you need. Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” So make sure you know who the Tegans, Alyanas, and Kaylas are in your life – keep them around, and help each other achieve the success that you all deserve.
Not just here, but here for a purpose.” Darling Magazine