By Francesca Escarraga
Not long ago, I was just like any other fresh graduate who had high hopes and dreams of making a name for myself in the world of show business. For most of my formative years, I worked hard towards achieving that goal by acquiring a degree from a prestigious university, getting internships in top agencies, and rubbing elbows with professionals who are passionate in their craft to make the industry thriving. To put things into perspective, I was one of those people who meticulously planned their life away at an early age.
The only problem was… life had other plans for me.
They say that the only thing constant in life is change and oftentimes it comes like a thief in the night, taking away years of careful preparation and hard work that we put into paving our own path in fulfilling our dreams, leaving us with overwhelming fear of uncertainty.
At 21, I was faced with a fork in the road that required a risky gamble, a decision that could potentially make or break me if I made the wrong call. What made it more challenging is the fact that both paths offered big opportunities but at a price. Path A simply handed me a golden ticket to my dreams by giving me an offer to work in one of the best media and entertainment networks in the country. To think that I went through hell and high water my whole life to get to this moment, why would I even bother to consider other options? Well, just like in any billion-dollar negotiations, Path B had a slightly better package and counter-offer.
Remember that time in your life when all you did after graduation was dispatch your resume to companies like there’s no tomorrow, desperately hoping that they would give a chance to the new kid on the block? Three years ago, I was also in the same boat exhausting all means solely to get my resume to the top of the pile. Call it fate or beginner's luck, I got a callback from a leading international luxury group inviting me for an interview in Hong Kong. Being a kid who lived all her life in the comfort of her hometown, it was so hard to pass on a ticket to an independent and adventurous life abroad. At that time, I was utterly convinced and decided that taking the risk to leave everything behind would be worth it. Without hesitation, I packed my bags, bought a one-way ticket, declined the job offer of my dreams, and bid farewell to the people and home I’ve known my whole life.
My journey to independence and pursuit of a better life outside my comfort zone was not as easy as it seems. I ended up losing the job opportunity that made me move in the first place to a bilingual Cantonese and English speaker, which was also the case for at least two more job interviews. I was drowning in my own thoughts of what-ifs, regrets, and resentments. Although, just when I was on the verge of giving up, I came across a corporate job opportunity. As a creative, the last thing I wanted was to be in pencil skirts and blazers, confined in a cubicle, and staring aimlessly at the computer screen for 9 hours. But guess what, I took the plunge and exactly became everything I said I wouldn’t be. After a month of intensive applications and nervous breakdowns, I finally found my place in the corporate world of Hong Kong, working for a NYSE listed American corporation.
There was no point in fighting with fate, so I put my dream on hold to give this new venture a chance to expose me to uncharted waters and hone my capabilities to its utmost potential. Looking back on it three years later, it’s safe to say that the redirection was a blessing in disguise. The opportunities that came along with it was beyond my wildest dreams. If I chose differently and gave up the moment it felt like all hope was lost, I wouldn’t have gotten the privilege to travel the world, develop and discover new skills, work with exceptional bosses and colleagues globally, move into a beautiful apartment in the city, and be able to fully support myself and the lifestyle I've always wanted to have. Until one day, I woke up to a realization that I was living somebody else's dream. From the moment I was offered the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder, I knew that taking it would only push me further away from my dreams and the person I want to become. I was willing to give up stability in exchange for the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment simply because I wanted to move forward in life doing what I love.
To those who feel tired, lost and hopeless about life, just because you’re not exactly where you envisioned yourself to be based on your 5-year plan, it doesn’t mean that you've lost your fighting chance in achieving your goals and dreams. Sometimes, life deliberately leads us to beaten paths and wrong turns to substantially prepare us for greater things far more than we could ever imagine. I strongly believe that these detours are only meant to help us find our purpose and guide us in able to conquer the struggles along the way. Despite being unable to foresee the unfavorable circumstances, we should always be ready to face them with open arms and be able to acknowledge that the fork in the road and misadventures are there to strengthen our spirit and give our lives meaning. Taking the road less travelled enabled me to experience the extraordinary life outside my comfort zone and I will always look back to my younger self with utter joy for making the right decision to take the leap of faith.
Do not let the fear, doubt, and setbacks hinder you from reaching your full potential. Finding success and genuine happiness in life could be as simple as quitting your day job, showing gratitude to your parents, being a better friend, eating healthy, taking the high road, standing up for the helpless, sharing the last bite, forgiving the ones who hurt you, believing in yourself and simply having the courage to fight for what you deserve in life.
I've lost count of all the times I've made unnecessary excuses when it comes to pursuing the desires of my heart, but the light at the end of the tunnel showed me that it's never too late to be the person you're meant to be. This is the time when I turn my fears into courage, shortcomings into strengths, what-ifs into what's next, defeats into victories, and make the impossible possible.
This is my year of change. It could be yours, too.