It has been approximately 3 years since I have decided to embark on this whirlwind of an adventure… of realising my dreams… of overcoming my fears and wielding my bravery… but ultimately, of self-discovery…
Yes, 3 years ago, was about the time I recognized my dreams. I am glad I didn’t take too much of my life to figure that out. At the age of 23 back then, I was neither too young to be naïve and have my head in the clouds, but I wasn’t too old to feel like I couldn’t still try (especially in this industry where age really does matter!). Hence, having recognised my dreams at that age was actually quite perfect for me.
Not many people know the story of how I figured out that THIS is what I really want to do. It’s a simple story, really, but it is one that I will never forget.
I remember that day as though it just happened yesterday.
I was playing badminton (my first baddy game in yonks) in KL with my Canadian housemate. Now, how we got to this part of the world when we knew and met each other at the other side of the world is another story. It was simply in God’s plan that we ended where we were… however unlikely it may be.
So there we were. During our intermission, Jacob (that’s my Canadian housemate—buddy, I’m still waiting for my ticket on your future private jet to fly me to Hong Kong for dimsum) asked me this really simple question, “What would you want to do that would make you jump out of bed every morning?”
It was truly simple. But it got the mechanics of my medulla oblongata working overtime for sure.
Here’s what I thought. At 23, I wouldn’t say I had a ton of life experiences but I did have my fair share. At that point in life, I had a taste of roughly a handful of potential careers in life including professional golf, investment banking, management, and business start-ups.
I thought back on the days I was training intensively for golf when representing state at SUKMA. I had to wake up at 5-6am and every morning that I woke up, I would question myself as to why I go through this torture. Yep, it was torture for me. As much as I enjoy golf and never regret picking up the sport competitively, golf was a leisure game for me… I never had the drive or passion to take it up full-time and it is more evident to me today than it was back then.
Then, I thought about investment banking. All those years I spent in university working my butt off to score a good GPA and eventually landing a job at HSBC. I had to wake up 8am Monday to Friday and again, every morning I do so (if I wasn’t rushing to work in a panic from snoozing too many times), I would be in my shower just waiting for the day to be done. My day hadn’t even started and I couldn’t wait for it to be done! If that’s not a sign of discontentment, I don’t know what is.
I also considered going into management at the food-service industry. I was working at a hip Japanese fusion restaurant and let’s just say I got pretty good at my job. As a part-timer and student, I loved my job! It was fun to meet new people, the money was great (for a student), and I loved my peers. However, every time I had to do a “reito check” (a bathroom check; we take our cleanliness very seriously), I would always think to myself, ‘I am not going to do this forever. I can’t’. So, again, there it was… a pretty clear indication that when times are tough, I couldn’t see it through with a positive attitude. Hence, once I graduated, I gave up the idea of going full-time knowing the food-service industry simply wasn’t for me and I decided to quit and go full-time into HSBC.
You see, I learned a valuable, valuable lesson throughout these experiences. I learned that to do the work you love; you need to be able to not just withstand the bad times… but embrace it. It’s strange but I didn’t see how that could have been possible back then. But now, it’s extremely clear. In the past 2 years of grinding it out in this industry, I went through my fair share of trials and tribulations. Not once did I ever question myself as to why I put myself through this suffering, or that I desperately couldn’t wait for the work to be over, or that I knew I can’t do this forever. Not. Even. Once.
Although it was 3 years ago from today that I discovered my dream, it was only in December 2012 when my career kick-started when I won the first-runner up title of Miss Universe Malaysia (that’s where I would say my career in this industry truly began).
When I discovered my dream early in 2012, I had my hand in business start-ups in Malaysia (that was what initially brought me from Vancouver back to Malaysia). Business start-ups was honestly something I had a lot of fun doing and it was definitely in my turf. But again, as much as I enjoyed it, during hard times, I was always ready to quit. And eventually, after 6 months, I did.
It was a difficult year in 2012 but extremely necessary. If not for that kick in the butt that occurred that year and the conversation I had with Jacob, I would never have been set on this path.
Yes, that conversation was certainly a catalyst because after a long thought, I was able to answer his question but it was filled with doubt and I felt at the time that it was certainly a crazy thought. I remember telling Jacob, “I guess the one thing that would make me get out of bed every morning is if I became a rock star.”
It was an unrefined dream, that’s for sure. But where I expected laughter, I did not receive. Jacob just shrugged and said, “So why don’t you?”
“Why don’t I what?”
“Become a rock star? A celebrity? I can see it.”
He was the first person and honestly, the ONLY person for a very long time who believed in me and my “silly” dreams at the time. And he said it so matter-of-factly that even I had to believe it.
Another thought dawned on me at the time… If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. And so I did. But I have to give credit to Jacob for believing in me first. Sometimes it just takes ONE person to believe in your potential and then you’re good to go on your own.
As time went by, I continued believing in myself even when nobody else did. Oh, I will always remember who looked at me as though I was nuts to think I could live my dream. I won’t name names but I know. I had friends and family laughing when I joked that one day, I will meet XXX celebrity or well… I went as far as to say I would marry them, but you know, jokes (or are they? :p I mean, I did meet Wang Lee Hom… Godfrey Gao… Tang Wei.. Chris Hemsworth… and so many other local and international celebrities along my way! So who’s laughing now?? :p I wouldn’t have if not for being in this industry! Nothing is impossible!).
So guess what? Look at where I am today. I know I’m not nearly where I want to be yet (at least I’m on TV! That’s a start…) but I am truly enjoying this journey that I’ve decided to embark on. Because I believed so much in myself, I am finally able to see changes in the way people around me look at me now. They believe in me too. Maybe not all of them… Let’s be realistic here. There are probably still a good handful of folks who don’t think I can make it. All the more reason for me to prove them wrong 🙂
So, I guess it was truly a blessing. It took one incident and I’m sure many others lead up to it… but I was like a giant rock on the top of the mountain sitting by the edge. And as my dream grew, so did my mass (mass = my dreams). So with one push, it started my spiraling down the mountain and the bigger and heavier I was, the faster I will go and the larger my force! (Force = Mass x Acceleration) << Am I right? 😉
Don’t be afraid to dream big, I always say. After all, the bigger your dreams, the larger your force… or rather, influences.
In essence, the first step is to discover your dream. Do whatever you think it will take. Talk to people about your dreams (just your dreams.. keep your plans to yourself). Read more books. Travel around the world.
Then, once you’ve discovered your dream, dream big. If you’re going to fantasise, just go all out! Why set limits? Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Basically, shoot further than you can imagine so even the consolation prize can be awesome.
So to some, discovering your dream may be easy or at least, it has been done. And of course, dreaming big isn’t the hardest thing to do. As long as you have even the slightest imagination, you’ll be fine. Now, comes the hard part. Making the plunge and taking that step of bravery to turn your dreams into reality.
This is a difficult thing to do. But just like any endeavor, the beginning stages are always tough. Be it learning golf… going on a diet to losing weight… picking up a new language… All endeavors I have gone through and understand its struggles. The key thing is perseverance. This is where I’m thankful for my stubborn trait. If I embark on something, I’m pretty stubborn about going all the way and finishing what I’ve started.
Anyway, so we all know it’s going to be tough. But for me, it’s what gives life that extra zing. That is what gets me out of bed every morning. The excitement of the challenges I have to face in my hot pursuit of my dreams.
After all, a ship is safe in harbour, but that is not what it was built for. That’s right, ships were meant to set sail. And that is exactly what WE were meant to do. Find your purpose, and set forth to sail away from safe harbour and live a life filled with vigour, tenacity and adventures worth talking about to your grandchildren and generations to pass.