“What do you do?” This is a question I quite dread, not for a lack of pride in my work, but due to the tedium of explaining the many facets of my life in response to what is usually intended as small talk.
Depending on who asks, my replies range from the banal “I make money”, to the easy “Yes, I still do television, but it’s mostly online now”, to the opportunistic “Juujaa is my athleisure wear brand, have you tried it?”, to the downright promotional “Go ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ my live-stream commerce platform, Kakikakilive on Facebook!” (The last is usually accompanied by me grabbing the interlocutor’s phone and pressuring them to do so on the spot).
I see these various roles I’ve taken on not as drastic pivots, but mere transitions – natural growth in areas I have strengths in.
I started out as a model, when I was spotted at 14 to front an ad for a telecommunications company. After graduating from university, I signed on with the local TV station, where I was put through my paces in acting, hosting and radio presenting.
Along the way, I met with a few business opportunities. Some worked out, while others bombed, but each was a lesson in self- awareness, and has played a role in shaping my life to the happy point it is at now. One transition involved going back to school, where I earned a diploma in applied positive psychology. With actress Sheila Sim, I set up Wonder & Wellness, running workshops to help people rediscover wonder in their lives.
My studies in positive psychology have made clear certain values that help one bravely explore life changes. The importance of having the self-awareness to know one’s strengths, and tailor one’s life choices to maximise them, cannot be understated. We usually excel at tasks we are good at, and using our gifts to their full potential is scientifically proven to bring joy.
Resilience, or the ability to bounce back, is one of the pillars of positive psychology, and a consciousness of what depletes this, coupled with a concerted effort to top up our resilience reservoirs, can help us through challenging times.
Being in nature, being physically active, and sharing deep connections with loved ones refuel me. When we are resilient, we have the courage to step out of our comfort zone, and drawing on our resilience reserves helps us through shaky periods of uncertainty that life changes inevitably bring.
We only have one life, and you don’t want to be asking “What if?” on your deathbed. So, take time to get to know yourself better. Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, draw on activities and people that anchor you, and take that leap of faith.
This article was first published in Her World Online.