Krystal Chong had it all, or so it would seem. For most people, securing the dream job and making a comfortable living normally means a 'happy life', but for Krystal, that was not really the case. The former marketing exec dropped corporate life to find the fulfilment she was lacking and is now sharing her story in her debut novel, What The Hell Am I Supposed to Do With My Life?!
"I felt like, 'What am I doing this for?'" revealed Chong in a sit-down with Youthlink. At the time, she was the chief marketing officer for Honey Bun, a family business. "It wasn't like I always felt like that. When I started, I really enjoyed it, and even now, looking back at the work that I did, I feel good about it and I'm happy that I did it."
The former Immaculate Conception High student said her need to fill a void in her life had taken her to a very dark place.
"I knew something was wrong because I didn't have a reason to be depressed, so I knew it wasn't about my circumstances. It was about me.
I remember one night I got really dark and I was like 'What is the meaning of living?', 'What's the purpose of living?' and 'Maybe you should kill yourself'. When I had that thought, I was like, 'That's crazy', and then I'm like, 'Okay. I have to do something about this'."
That 'something' turned out to be a soul-searching journey that spanned three countries - Jamaica, the United States and Italy - and would forever change her life.
"I found a relationship with spirituality that guides me and that I feel secure and at peace in. I found the things that I really want to do with my life. I'm so alive, I just can't even like contain myself!"
About her decision to write a book, Chong explained: "I wanted to do something meaningful. I didn't want to go to work and feel like it's just for money or social approval."
Since its publication, the novel has received positive reviews, thanks to Chong's infectious and clear-the-air kind of persona - something, she believes, that really helps her ability to connect with her audience. "People feel like it's speaking to them in their own voice. They feel like it's not a pretentious self-help book or a bunch of mumbly-jumbly stuff. They feel like they are reading a conversation that they can understand."
She admits, however, that this freedom to be herself wasn't always something she had. "When I was in the corporate world, I couldn't be bubbly because it's perceived as (being) a bit of an airhead. You're not respected by other men because they want you to be a tough businesswoman and I had to be something that I wasn't."
Now, living in New York and making the rounds as a motivational speaker while promoting her book, she said, "I wish I had known these things when I was younger, and that's one of the reasons why I wrote the book. I want to share this with people because you can go through your whole life never feeling alive, never feeling connected to life."
To young people, she shared, "All the things that you are naturally, make that thing unique, versus trying to mould yourself into something to create a product. You can't be good at something if you're being something that you're not."
What The Hell Am I Supposed to do With My Life?! is available as an ebook, audiobook and in print on Amazon.com and in Jamaica at Bookophilia, Kerry Man Woman and Home and Innovative Super Store in Sovereign Centre.
Catch up with Krystal Chong at KrystalChong.com, on Facebook: Krystal Chong - Live Full. Live Free or on Instagram @KrystalChong.