Growing up, I always dealt with the complex that I felt like I wasn’t gifted with any special talents. While there were kids that were amazing in illustration, sports, music, I was the nerdy kid with glasses who loved to stay up to read books. Bookworms and glasses were not as chic as they are now, trust me. My parents enrolled me in everything they could possibly fit into a 5 year old’s schedule including piano, drawing, singing, math, Chinese school, swimming and more, in hopes that I’ll become a talented superstar one day.
Not many people know this about me, but I was part of a small dance group where I was the lead singer and we had an incredibly sweet and caring dance teacher who taught us cute choreograph dance moves. We performed all around the city, and most of my childhood was made up of dance practices and singing lessons when we weren’t performing. There are still times when I go to family functions and aunties and uncles would come up to me and say they still remember me as the cute l’il kid on stage.
As we grew up, the group disbanded (though some of us are still close to this day), and we went our own ways. I still sometimes wonder “what if” I had continued pursuit down that path. And while I do wish I had somewhat of a more “normal” childhood, I never regret anything because I believe everything happens for a reason.
Without much direction of “what I wanted to be when I grew up”, I often felt like I made many blind choices in high school from what classes to take, to choosing which university I wanted to go to. I sometimes think how crazy it is that kids at 14 and 15 should have some idea of where they want to go, as their choices in something as simple as what classes they took to fill their schedule, can have a direct impact on what university programs they can apply for. Many of my friends decided to choose professional careers that had very clear-cut paths laid out for them, but I had not a clue. My approach quickly became to dabble in a bit of everything, and to take every opportunity to learn something new whenever I could, to become a well-rounded individual. Had I not said yes to taking the French test in grade 6 to join the Extended French program in middle school, would I have continued to learn French in University, leading me to my third year exchange spent in Paris, France? Had I not fast tracked my grade 12 English credit that one summer, would it have led me to find someone who was accepted into the same University program that I was, who ultimately encouraged me to join the program that shaped my life?
Fast forward 20 years, I find myself incredibly lucky to have come out on top of all of the uncertainty I ever faced while in school. Little did I know, all the challenges and experiences I took on during my academic career, would ultimately lead me to a profession in Public Relations. An industry that was unknown to me, until at least my fourth or fifth year of University. I couldn’t ask for a more exciting, innovative and creative industry to be a part of, and one that was such a natural fit. And I really couldn’t have done it without people taking chances on me along the way, and seeing the potential that I had to excel in this career who guided me in the right direction. I’m often approached by students aspiring to be in the PR industry to find out more about what it’s like to work in the world’s largest independent PR firm, and I’m proud to have shared some of my experiences through a recent profile on Edelman’s blog which I hope will prove to be helpful.
The moral of this incredibly-long-and-drawn-out story is, it is perfectly okay if you don’t always know exactly why you’re doing something or if you’re wondering if you’ve made the right choice when faced with a decision. With every opportunity you take to bring yourself out of the comfort zone, whether the outcome is good or bad, there is always something to be learned from it and with that you grow. Things will always work out for the best in the end, even if you don’t think that’s the case at the time. When I was accepted to participate in an eye-opening two-week excursion to China to discover my roots in 2009, I wasn’t able to go due to reasons out of my control, which I was incredibly bummed out about. Little did I know, two years later, I would be asked to host and plan the exact same trip which ended up being one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of my life so far. And even more so, after having a year of experience of planning to bring a group of 30 Chinese-Canadian youth overseas, I would not have guessed that it would have benefitted a client at work. Who knew that I would have the opportunity to host 30 people from Beijing, China where I had to create an exhilarating two-week experience for them in Toronto? Life works in funny ways.
With all that said, I encourage anyone reading this to take the plunge into the unknown, grasp every opportunity you can to challenge yourself, and be assured that you will always come out on top. Ask yourself, “what would you do if you knew you could not fail”, and do it.