Ever compared yourself to a reality show or a video game? I hope not. Emily Cook did. And there was a reason behind that, for the fact she has been not once but twice in her life, a victim of episodes which are enough to change someone’s perspective to living.
“I’m not going to lie. I have cried, been scared, been overwhelmed with mixed emotions and most importantly I’ve been worried for my health and safety,” recounts Cook as she shared her horrific experience in Vietnam to The Lateralz. But for the Australian, who loves to travel around the world, one thing that helped her swim aside all the toughness was ‘mindset’.
“Travel is a beautiful thing. You get to learn so much from different cultures around the world, about people but most importantly get to explore about your own and what you a truly capable of,” she elaborated.
The incident happened in April just a few days after coronavirus had started to cripple the world. The 26-year-old Cook was on a month-long vacation in Vietnam with her boyfriend, who ditched her a couple days before. Amid the deadly situation, the ever-smiling Cook was left stranded in the south Asian country alone and heart-broken with no possible way of getting back home.
It was a social media post that saved her. Finding no way out, Cook took to Facebook, posting a picture of her herself holding a paper with ‘I need help’ written on it. “**Guys, I NEED URGENT HELP!!!!!** Most of you know me as the happy, adventurous soul, and most of you know I’ve had the most EPIC travel adventures the last 2-3 months, but right now, shit has become absolutely F**KED, and I NEED YOUR HELP!!” read a part of big write-up she posted on April 6.
The post immediately went viral with more than a thousand users commenting on it and 263 shares. Before that, she went door-to-door for help but because of the strict restrictions from the Vietnamese government, nobody wanted to help her initially. However, she didn’t have to wait for long as a kind-hearted family came forward and gave her shelter at their home till she got to fly back home.
“Since that devastating time in Vietnam, I’ve compared my situation to two things,” Cook explained. “The first one is comparing myself to being in a video game. We all know as kids (before life gets in the way) that you can spend hours and hours playing a video game, never get tired, never get bored, but most importantly, never give up.
“If you’re stuck on level six, and really can’t get to level seven, you keep playing level six until you get there. And when you get there, you keep playing until you get to the next one, then the next one. I see myself playing a video game, determined to get to the final level, no matter what,” she said.
“It may sound silly, but this whole time in my head I’ve said to myself, ‘I’m just in a video game, and I need to level up’. Right now, I may be stuck on a certain level physically, but I can choose to turn off the game and give up, or I can keep pushing until I get to the next level, which is the only way to win this game. However, as much as I wish this was all a game, this is real life.”
Secondly, she compared herself to being a contestant in a reality television show where the producers throwing curveballs all the time to see how long she can last. “The audience is watching for their own entertainment, just to see how much you can handle,” she elaborated.
“But if you really were in a reality television show, would you break down and leave the show? Or would you keep going and try to win the prize at the end of the show? Either way, eventually the TV series will end and you will either have won or lost. The choice is yours,” stated Cook. “If there’s anything I’ve learned through this scary time, is that you need to have a strong mindset, and you need to have mental strategies (no matter how weird they are) to get you through.”
Cook has always been a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. At the age of 17, she became a qualified personal trainer, massage and beauty therapist, and started her own business from both home and in a local gym. By the age of 18, she accepted an offer to run a local gym on the Sunshine Coast without having an idea of how to run a business. She managed that gym for two years, and after gaining the experience and saving money, Cook went solo into the land of the unknown across the UK and Europe.
She started realising that her real passion was to meet different and incredible people like the way she loves her fitness. Eventually, after a wild trip around Europe, ending up in the strangest places, meeting the coolest people, Cook thought of settling down to work and save money again. Although, she became a fitness coach in London but that joy didn’t last long as, after a freak accident, she was left with a broken foot, unable to walk for months. To add more misery she had to leave the job.
“I was devastated when my life in London broke down, but it led me to a new life in Sydney where I learned the most about business. I’ve ever learned and made the most incredible friends, who are still my friends today. I was devastated last year after putting my whole heart and soul into trying to buy my own gym, investing 30,000 AUS dollars of my own cash, only to have the deal fall through,” Cook rued.
Cook’s Vietnam disaster has made her experience the reality, the ones which we see through the television screens relaxing on the couch at our homes. Not only had she experienced homelessness, heartbreak, devastation and an extreme level of fear, but also met the most incredible people. And to see poverty through her own eyes has truly made her want to be a better person, and continue to help other people in the world.
In the meantime, Cook managed to make an online client base of her own which includes a variety of people from different fields. “I now have clients across the UK, Europe and Asia, who I am educating and coaching in how to grow their business. Most of my clients are in the health and fitness industry, including Personal Trainers, Physiotherapists, Hair Dresses, Beauty Therapists, etc,” she said.
If there’s anything I’ve learned through this scary time, is that you need to have a strong mindset, and you need to have mental strategies (no matter how weird they are) to get you through.
The good news is Cook has been able to get back home in Australia and finally reunited with her family. She might have lost 30,000 AUS dollars in cash and thought that was the worst thing in the world, but sitting at her cozy bedroom and looking back now, it might have been a blessing in disguise.
“I do believe that things happen for a reason, and I’m thankful I have air in my lungs, legs to walk on, internet to connect me every day,” she concluded.