When I grow up, I want to be... / by Marlous Teh

Do you remember those good ol' class mates books or what we in Dutch called "vriendenboek" (friends book) in primary school? The book in which you had to write all your personal details in including your colour of eyes, height, favourite book, band, why you liked the friend whose book you were writing...? One of those questions was what you wanted to be when you grow up.

 "♪ ♫.....when I grow up... I want to be famous.... ♫♪"

"♪ ♫.....when I grow up... I want to be famous.... ♫♪"

Other than the obvious pop singing, heat swinging Pussy Cat Dolls envy, I was one of those kids who'd go through phases simply based on the cool people I'd meet. One week, I noticed how fabulously skilled my hairdresser was, so I decided I wanted to be an amazing hairdresser. Then I'd see my mum sparkling and being so dedicated to service and happy chatting to our guests in the restaurant and I'd decided wanted to be a restaurant owner too. I'd notice how amazing it was that my school teacher would help us learn new things and the amount of respect my school mates and I had for him, which then made me I want to be a teacher. 

Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Would you say you wanted to be in the career of what you are doing today?

Even though some of those careers were quickly out of sight, out of mind, one idea seemed superbly glamorous and followed me throughout primary and high school into University was the life of travel across the globe.. Quite possibly through the influence of a migrant family, cultural concepts of "success" and western tv..

...When I grow up, I want to be... "An international business woman"

I wanted to be working and flying across countries, utilising my love for languages, cultures, and engaging with people.

Over the last 7 years or so, somehow I tried let go of that idea, because every step I tried to take towards it, didn't quite seem to fall into place. Actually, it was freaking hard on many levels. Then fast forward to now, I recently took on a role that came rather unexpected, but basically incorporates everything I wanted to do as an international business woman and more..

  Hello from stunning Hong Kong :)

Hello from stunning Hong Kong :)

Woohoo! Whilst I've done my little celebration dance on these new and exciting changes... I want to share what I learned upon reflection..

I didn't get to where I am today by simply going through a smooth linear path of success starting with the right choice of studies.

Simply choosing what to study in high school, let alone in Uni, was horrifying and felt like my life was depending on it. And that's not even accounting for the fact that I changed studies half way through University and, like I couldn't get enough of studying, then graduated with two more diplomas after I completed my Masters.

The truth is that after graduation, I had a very hard time settling into a role, especially being a foreigner in country. A lot of people around me would always tell me: "someone like you, should easily land a job with the big corporates, in this space, etc etc...".

The truth is that it wasn't easy. It was either timing, visa restrictions, not enough experience... And a good dose of imposter syndrome didn't help to motivate me to aim high either...

I went from temp job to temp job, doing call service, hospitality, recruitment, receptionist jobs.. Then taking internship roles for a few hours a week just to get the experience. Very often I was working two or three jobs at a time to be able to pay for my studies, Sydney's ridiculously expensive rent and cost of living... Going into most jobs, I didn't know how long they'd last for. All I knew was that I had to do my best and make the most out of them while they lasted.

It was often trial and error, bad and (mostly) good people, false promises, grateful recognition of my talent, and lots of luck... Riding the waves that life would throw at me created this journey. Not actually with the goal of being an international business woman, but simply to trust that I will, and work to, where I need to be, one step at a time.

Whilst at the time I sometimes really felt the world wasn't fair, thinking why I wasn't landing that job, or wasn't given what I was promised... I now look back and see that I was so so lucky and blessed, and it was exactly how things were meant to be. As a vivid planner, I think plans are great, but also think life is meant to "get in the way" of your success...

So rather than asking myself, have I become who I wanted to be... Have I been successful, have I made it yet... I'd like to ask myself..

How can I make the most out of this situation? What can I learn from this experience, right here and right now.. How will this serve me, others and the world around me? How can I use the experiences that I will gain to get closer to how I want to live my life?

These are the burning questions many of my coaches, mentors, friends and beloved have planted with me and I hope they serve you just as well as they've served me.

The other exciting thing I've discovered is that all those fabulous things I noticed from people around me in different professions, is that you can carry those out in simply being human. My hairdresser who was amazingly skilled, my teacher who was highly respected, my mother who loved to serve and be an excellent host.

Can I build a little bit more skill in learning about myself, languages, dance, yoga, business, building teams, collaborations? Can I learn about respect and character from the teachers, mentors, the greats that have come before me? Can I adopt the passion and dedication in service to others? The answer is yes :)

How do you want to define success and how do you want to live your life?
 Have fun while you're at it :D

Have fun while you're at it :D

Marlous xoxo.