• Sarah Anderson and her family (Supplied)Source: Supplied
This whole process has made me a brave mum, a good wife and in some ways an awesome daughter. I’ve broken a pattern of self-denial.
By
Sarah Anderson as told to Elli Jacobs

25 Jun 2020 - 9:39 AM  UPDATED 25 Jun 2020 - 9:39 AM

I was raised in a very conservative Asian family where having a child out of wedlock is considered the ultimate shame.

During WW2, members of my father’s family swam from mainland China to Hong Kong as the only way to escape and save their lives. The fact that they came from abject poverty and subsequently became refugees, understandably shaped within them strong feelings about raising children in unstable circumstances.      

To give themselves a fresh start, my parents migrated to Australia in the 70s just as the White Australia policy ended.

They wanted to give me and my younger sister a good education. I graduated from one of Sydney’s top selective schools, James Ruse Agricultural High School, and I then went to UNSW to study Environmental Science. Even though my parents hoped I would become a doctor, I had an interest in the wider world so there was a bit of a disagreement there, but I still went to uni, which they were happy with.

Even though my parents hoped I would become a doctor, I had an interest in the wider world so there was a bit of a disagreement there, but I still went to Uni, which they were happy with.

For a while I worked in bureaucracy, taking placements with the Australian Government in Canberra and working for the UN as a Youth Ambassador in Thailand. I then moved to Brisbane where I devoted myself to NGO project management and fundraising work. My parents were proud of my career and achievements, but I had another passion.  

As a hobby I started offering palm readings from a stall at the then-Chandler markets on weekends. An Indian friend had read my palm as a university student and I remember thinking how it was in a way quite scientific and very precise. As a science student with an Asian background, I was intrigued, but as someone who had been raised Christian I was in conflict. Yet I was curious enough to explore it and over the years it became a thriving side job.  

By 2011, I realised I was burning out in the corporate world, so I decided to quit and become a full-time psychic. By doing that I became estranged from certain family and friends, as metaphysical work contradicts their faith. In front of my parents, a family friend suggested to me: “You must be possessed by a demon.” 

As fate would have it during the Selena Hill Psychic Fair in 2012, I met my partner Kris.

As fate would have it during the Selena Hill Psychic Fair in 2012, I met my partner Kris.

In 2015 I fell pregnant which for me was very positive as I had suffered from anorexia a few years back. My biggest wish recovering from this eating disorder was to have children. 

I told my parents early on and as I expected they were disappointed because we were not married. A close relative was also very against the situation due to our low income, unmarried status, and unusual careers. They suggested I abort my son.

As a result of the conflict I developed eczema over half my body and bouts of anxiety. I knew this was linked to being ashamed of my sexuality and appearance to others in a social sense. 

To commit myself to being someone powerful and overcome my fear of being seen I decided to learn stand-up comedy.

I sometimes felt that being a girl was a burden on my parents and that my sister and I had to work hard to be accepted. In China they still consider sons superior to daughters and I come from a family where only the males have been recorded in our family history book for the past few hundred years. 

My upbringing was also extremely serious. As a child I was told to stop laughing and talking so loudly. It was all about getting good grades and becoming a doctor or lawyer so I could look after others and give back.

As a child I was told to stop laughing and talking so loudly. It was all about getting good grades and becoming a doctor or lawyer so I could look after others and give back.

Most importantly, I wanted to become a mother who would look after and protect her children and speak up for them even if their life choices were outside the norm, just like mine. 

I did a course with comedian Fiona McGary and used our graduation gig at three months pregnant to announce the pregnancy in public and to silence the critics who disagreed with my lifestyle and career choices.

None of my family members were in attendance but I did send them the clip to watch. There wasn’t much response. However, it set a boundary that wasn’t there before. People who see the clip now know that if they mess with me, they may end up exposed in public.

Standing on stage in front of a room filled with people expecting me to make them laugh, which I did, gave me a newfound self-confidence. 

I was also able to heal from the years of bullying I endured since childhood. I am almost six feet tall which is unusual for an Asian woman. I wore braces and glasses in high school, I was uncoordinated and covered in cystic acne. Everything was stacked against me and made me an easy target for the bullies. 

When I got up on stage, I felt that was one of the biggest victories for my childhood self and for the part of me that was always misunderstood. Talking about my harrowing past in my comedy act and laughing about it with friends and strangers, freed me from being a victim and established me as a powerful creator. 

When I got up on stage, I felt that was one of the biggest victories for my childhood self and for the part of me that was always misunderstood.

I can honestly say that the person who walked off the stage that night was a whole new me. To know that I had done something so out of my comfort zone gave me enormous energy. I can now teach my children to be fearless and I know that I have something to say that people want to hear. 

Doing the course made me realise that female comedians don’t just have to be funny. They have to be very thick skinned to put up with the prejudice thrown their way. This whole process has made me a brave mum, a good wife and in some ways an awesome daughter. I’ve broken a pattern of self-denial.

This whole process has made me a brave mum, a good wife and in some ways an awesome daughter. I’ve broken a pattern of self-denial.

In my line of work there are also a lot of trolls who dislike psychics and who believe you’re fake and are scamming people. At first, I used to put up with it, but after stand-up I began replying to them with poems, blog posts and videos.

Kris and I got married in 2017 and are now parents to Forrest, age four – named after Forrest Gump, and Charlie age two-and-a-half. It’s the highlight of my day to say ‘run, Forrest, run’ when we go to the park and he certainly loves his chocolate. 

My husband and I are so glad we didn't give into the naysayers. Our children are gorgeous and very funny.

When I looked up Forrest’s horoscope recently it said that the perfect career for people with his February birthday is acting and comedy. No joke!

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