How Koko Singleton Overcame Poverty and Abuse to Become a Web3 Icon
POPSUGAR Australia is dedicating the month of October to featuring the next generation of inspired thinkers and courageous individuals who are building and manifesting a brighter future — because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from young Australians siwho are making a name for themselves, as well as inspiring thought pieces and interviews with rising talent in the Web3 space throughout the month. Find all of our pieces here.
Warning: This article deals with the topic of childhood sexual abuse and may be triggering for some readers.
I have never thought of myself as ‘unstoppable’. In fact, on realising that I was to be included among a feature of ‘unstoppable’ women, my immediate reaction was to retreat into myself. Reflexively, I wrote a reply: ‘Hey! Thanks for reaching out, but I’m pretty sure you have the wrong person?’. But something stopped me from my usual self-sabotage.
Instead, I thought of how I would respond if a friend told me that they would be featured. Of course, I would be overjoyed for them — so why could I not give myself the same respect and love? The advice that I so often give out is to consider the facts, and let the truth speak for itself. So, I took my own advice and did just that.
Reflecting on my past and examining the facts, I decided to start this essay from the beginning. For me, growing up in a large council-housing estate, my upbringing was considered the norm. Spending time without electricity as there was no money on the metre, answering the door to predatory loan sharks seeking repayments and sharing two bedrooms among three children is the reality for so many of us in my area.
Yet, unlike others, I also had the opportunity to experience a different way of living. Gaining a full-bursary to a girls’ independent school was one of the most pivotal moments in my life. But still, that too came with difficulties — being the poor child amongst a wealthy community brought its own challenges.
Still, I did not let this stop me. I saw my education as my escape, my ticket to breaking the cycle. My final year of high school was extremely difficult, as it was then that I revealed I had experienced childhood sexual abuse at the hands of my uncle. My closely-kept secret came out once I noticed my nieces reaching the same age as I was when it had all begun.
Despite the obvious heartbreak and difficulty of bringing this to light, I knew I had to protect them. Eventually, he was jailed, but the trauma of going through investigations and tearing my family apart at the age of 17 was a lot to deal with. Yet again, I did not let this stop me.
Amongst all of this, I applied to and was accepted to an arts university. Surprisingly, I felt even more alone at university than I did at school, as I studied among many highly privileged students. While they made valuable connections and could focus fully on study, I juggled bar work with full-time study — loans and grants were not enough to cover living expenses in London.
Looking back, there are so many times that I could have given up. Even now, I still do not know what it was that drove me to keep going — perhaps the idea of a better future, if not for myself, then for my family. It has been 11 years since I left university. In that time, I solo-travelled South America, simultaneously worked full-time and interned full-time in London, and eventually, moved to Australia. Now, with two young children of my own, I am always reaching out to give them more than what I had.
But it has not been easy. As a non-citizen, I had no access to maternity pay or government assistance of any kind. With only my husband’s salary to care for us all, I had to find a way to earn money after having children. I began with writing, the one passion and skill that has stayed with me my entire life.
From writing $5 articles through freelancer sites, to working as a content writer for multi-million dollar companies, I never stopped growing my skillset — not a miscarriage, not two pregnancies, and certainly not my experience with post-natal depression could stop me. My time in a mother-and-baby psychiatric ward actually spurred me to study further, and I now split my time between working with mental health and working as a writer in Web3.
Looking at the facts, I can now say that yes, perhaps I am unstoppable. It still feels strange and uncomfortable to say that, but that only goes to show that I have some unresolved issues I must work on. Unfortunately, for many people, being able to live an aligned life and do what you love is not achievable — my experience growing up is not unique, and I certainly have it easier than so many others.
However, there is hope, and I largely believe that Web3 can bring that hope. Through the power of the decentralised web, you can be whoever you want to be. You can find your community, grow and learn with others, and find your place here. Artists do not have to fight to be seen by curators and writers do not have to take low-paid internships to have their work read. Simply put it out there and someone will resonate with what you are creating.
As a freelance writer, I create content on copy on a variety of different topics, for differing companies. At times, I am overseeing a team of writers, editing their work for a well-known NFT news site. Other times, I may be interviewing founders and artists to create ‘spotlight’ pieces, or putting together reviews of NFT collections.
There are many roles for writers in Web3 — whether you are a creative writer, journalist, or business content writer. With my work, I spend my days waking up and getting the children ready for their kindergarten and school before dropping them off. Then, I usually pick up a coffee on my way home, before coming in and sitting down in front of the computer, and beginning my day.
As a freelance writer working from home, structure is key — so I take a look at my tasks and goals and organise them in order of priority. My day then follows with my editing and writing work, with breaks for myself scattered in between (working from home means that I can take my breaks when I like, how I like — a 15-minute dance party by myself or a short walk along the beach!).
Finally, being unstoppable does not mean never stopping. We must all take breaks — rest is restorative and we cannot run on empty. To me, all it means is to keep chasing what you love — no matter what stands in your way.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) or head to The Australian Human Rights Commission for a list of state by state resources.