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“Paradise” doesn’t always mean “perfect.” Not even in Hawaii.

Diana Kim ran away from home when she was 16 years old. Her parents had separated, and she had stayed with various relatives and friends for years.

“I didn’t always have control with what happened to me,” she said. “I grew up fast.”

Kim, now 31, grew up in Maui, Hawaii, and told Rare her experiences made it easier to focus on what she needed to do — for herself — to succeed in life and help others.

READ MORE: She found a homeless man she never expected to see, and now Diana Kim is helping others


Duck Dynasty and “Dancing with the Stars” favorite Sadie Robertson launches an event tour this fall to encourage people to stay true to themselves and their values. For many reasons, Kim’s story stood out to her.

“I’ve had so many people in my life inspire me with how they Live Original, and I want to share their stories with you,” Robertson said.

“I met Diana Kim at the Rare Under 40 Awards, and when she told her story, everyone in the room was crying.”

Fast-forward to 2016: Kim lives with her husband, Josh, and their two sons in Oahu. Kim just finished law school and plans to pursue work in philanthropy. She’s best known for her photography of the homeless in Hawaii, a hobby she picked up from her father when she was younger.

“I think I gravitated towards the homeless because I felt the most comfortable around them,” Kim said. “There wasn’t a lot of expectations in our friendships, and it was just a way for me to meaningfully connect with people.”

READ MORE: Sadie Robertson shares inspiration and this important message for young people with her new tour

Kim made national news last year when one of the men she photographed on the streets turned out to be her father. An emotionally taxing time, she says things “kind of just exploded” at that point in her life, personally and otherwise.

“I didn’t really know what to do with it at the time,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

The situation helped Kim shine a light on what was happening at home in Hawaii and helped give her “a deeper awareness of how quickly things can change” for the homeless in her community.

“I’m just more aware; aware of life and death,” she said.

READ MORE: Sadie Robertson is surprised God has given her this gift, but she hopes it can help others

One of Kim’s favorite Hawaiian sayings is “Kūlia i ka nu’u,” which means “strive for the highest.”

She first heard the saying after breakfast with a homeless man — these were his parting words. And ever since, it’s a phrase that’s popped up in her life.

Kim’s experiences have shown her that “positivity of self is everything” and that one’s matter of perspective and optimism can help us all deal with adversity.

“It’s nice because it’s something you can choose. We can wake up in the morning and choose to be positive,” she said. “It feeds our souls. It feeds mine.”

Sadie Robertson’s 17-date tour has stops in San Antonio, Baton Rouge, Birmingham and more beginning Sept. 22.

Find information about the event, tour stops and dates on LiveOriginal.com.

READ MORE: Hawaii-based photographer shows the one image that has reshaped her entire life

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