How To Grab Life By The B*lls

The story of three gutsy women who created their own success


(From left): Tricia Ong, Gillian Tan, Sandra Lee

Fifty years ago, a woman’s life was neatly categorised by decades. If you didn’t hit the milestones as expected by the time you were 20, 30 or 40, you’d be perceived as an anomaly.

Getting an education, a simple job, marriage, motherhood — that was largely the order of life’s goals that women back then were brought up to aspire to.

But it’s 2015 and many things have changed. As you blow out the candles on your 35th birthday, you may be considering whether it’s time to get that third degree. And while some still rush to get hitched before the big 3-0, others are too busy career-building to care as much about it.

Yes, the milestones of our mothers’ generation may remain, but they’re no longer pegged to a certain age. Some have lost their appeal, replaced by new life challenges that are the modern markers of success.

Indeed, the opportunities for women today are exciting and varied...and waiting to be taken up by the daring. Be inspired by these women - all proof that we should be setting our own milestones and living life as we, not society, dictate - then go for gold yourself.

Tricia Ong, 26

Millennials could be the most entrepreneurial generation ever, if the escalating number of local fashion blogshops run by 20-somethings is anything to go by. Tricia Ong, founder of VainGloriousYou, is one among them, and she fits perfectly in the generation’s mould.

The multitasking risk-taker is tech-, social media- and selfie-savvy, and started her online business after graduating from polytechnic, eager to develop her passion for fashion. In just two years, she’s expanded it to a boutique.

“If not now, when?” she says. “Every moment delayed means a bigger risk and more uncertainty. It’ll be harder to take the first step out as you age, because commitments and priorities change. That’s why I don’t think about what might fail, and jump at opportunities instead.”

“Five years ago, people and friends — particularly from the older generation — questioned how sustainable my career choice would be. Now, society’s mentality has changed [so much], I get support from Gen Xers and beyond.” 

Gillian Tan, 35

Founder of online TV channel and production company Munkysuperstar Pictures — Tan’s credentials are impressive. But she’s sure earned them. The TV production grad started Munkysuperstar 12 years ago and built up her empire from there.  

“I don’t compare myself with others in my age group — my goals are based on my personal benchmarks and not what others are doing. To me, age is just a number so it doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30 or 40 — it’s your mental age that means much more,” she says.

“What I’ve learnt is not to think too much about life or you’ll miss out on living it. Live life by your own terms, and not what other people or society deem is right or the norm.”

Sandra Lee, 47

At just seven, Lee knew she wanted to be an artist, but she almost let the dream slip. She started her working life in the hospitality industry, and subsequently moved on to media and advertising. It wasn’t until she turned 27 that she finally decided to pursue her childhood ambition, gave up her job and went to art school.

We think her art stands out for its whimsical and fantastical qualities. The talented artist has since put up five solo exhibitions, while her wall murals can be seen at New Majestic Hotel in Bukit Pasoh Road. 

“Nothing is permanent…be grateful for the moment,” Lee says. “It doesn’t matter what age you are, you could be doing anything. The age part only affects your health, in that your body and energy levels may not be as good when you are 60 than when you were 30. However, you can do what you want at any age - if your spirit is willing and your body allows it.” 

Read more in the October issue of ELLE Singapore, available on Magzter.

For more on lifestyle, head here or check out Which Of These Is More Likely To Kill You or Where To Shop For The Freshest Produce.


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