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Life and Work with Pearl Steffie Gonzaga

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pearl Steffie Gonzaga.

Pearl Steffie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in a family where I was raised only by my mother. Being the eldest of four siblings, I have to adjust and fill the role of the guardian. From doing all the household chores, looking after my siblings and being their biggest role model and lead by example, because I know they are looking up to me. I learned how to sacrifice so many things and be selfless just to provide their needs. My siblings are one of the reasons I got to where I am today. I worked hard for them so I can help them achieve their dreams. Also, I am where I am because I took risk others weren’t willing to take. Embracing risk is key to succeeding in the bigger game of life because the person who risks and fails is better than one who decides to do nothing. Don’t be scared and have the courage to always take a risk. You don’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe. I used to believe in the saying that “Good things come to those who wait.” No, it’s a total bullsh*t. Good things come to those who work their asses off, took risks and never give up!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Life hasn’t been easy for me. I was undergoing counseling and psychotherapy after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. People bullied me when I was in high school. I still remember distinctly the sharp pain that rose up from the pit of my stomach to the surface of my head when a classmate pushed me right in front of everyone and yelled mean words to me. I was on the ground feeling defeated and humiliated and all I could see was people around me laughing. All I did was cry. After high school, my mom can’t afford to send me to college so I had to stay home and look after my siblings while she worked. Can you imagine that feeling? Seeing all your friends going to college, meeting new friends, and having the best time of their lives. I felt so alone because they forgot about me. Nobody is checking up on me.

Asking how’s your life going on. I felt like I a loser. Then, a year later, I got a college scholarship, I was so happy and full of hope because finally, something good is happening to me. Everything went well in college for a few months. I also thought that bullying ends in high school. But I was wrong. One day, I just woke up with a bunch of text messages from my college classmates saying “We all know your/family story.” I still remember distinctly the anger I felt that time. I had enough. I stop going to school, I was too scared to go out of the house, I was too scared to see people thinking they are going to hurt me and humiliate me. I spent years of my life in constant terror. But not even once I doubt God. I have so much faith in him that not even once I think of giving up and ending my life. Yes, I questioned Him because I didn’t understand the struggles of life. Now, they all made sense.

Looking back in my life, I am so thankful to God for giving me those struggles because they made me stronger and wiser. I never let it break me. He made me fierce and gave me angel eyes to see good in Devils. Despite my fierceness, he made me humble. Those struggles taught me not to judge anyone but to smile at everyone. You don’t know what they are going through and they may need that smile. I am not sharing this to lash out at or blame anyone. I’m sharing this so that I can finally face my past, which something I’ve tried, all of my life, to avoid talking about, or even thinking about. But after all of that, I still love this crazy life. My advice for other women or young women just starting their journey. Think of it like climbing a mountain. Be ready for some setbacks. There will be rocks and thorns and holes in the ground along the way. But the minute you reach the top again, no matter how battered or bruised you may be, you will realize it was worth it. You will breathe the fresh air again and look down on your valley and realize you are much better up here.

SO, KEEP GOING. DON’T EVER GIVE UP. Don’t ever think the obstacle before you is something you can’t handle because you can make it! You are strong and capable of doing anything you set your mind to. Going through a lot of tough times teaches you to appreciate the world in a way others never will be able to appreciate and that makes you beautiful dear. I love the person I’ve become because I fought like hell, and walked through hell with a smile on my face to become her. Now, it’s your turn!

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a cuisinier and an influencer at the same time. I co-own a restaurant in the Philippines but I moved here to L.A. because it has a vibrant food scene and is such a perfect place to learn. In social media, I am known as travel influencer, I also do fashion, beauty, and wellness. I’m always proud of my content. People think being an Influencer is an easy job. All they know is you just take pictures of the product/campaign you are promoting and post it on social media to get paid. They don’t know about the deadlines you have to meet, I have to make sure that the brands are satisfied with my work, and they will still want to work with me in the future, Another hard part is waking up yourself early morning to take bomb ass photos before the scene gets too crowded, you don’t have a photographer following you wherever you go, so you just take pictures of yourself using a tripod and you look like a fool. Hahaha!

But what sets me apart from others is that I create a relationship with the brands. I always try to work and partner with people who own a small business. My favorite includes single moms and women who have an incurable chronic pain condition. I enjoy supporting and working with independent artists, raising awareness and promoting charities for kids in need. Those are the kind of campaigns I always love to do. I want to help and give back to the community as much as I can. As an Influencer, I don’t want to use my influence only to tell people to travel around the world or to convince them to buy all the products I’m promoting online. I want to use my influence for the good of everyone and to plant good seeds, especially to younger generations.

Who have you been inspired by?
I must start with my Mother. My mom worked very hard to make sure my siblings and I had everything we needed. But working on a single income with four kids is not easy. There are times when I woke up in the middle of the night and heard my mom crying quietly in her room. There are memories that I look back on and wonder if there were things I could have changed. But there are traits and lessons I have learned, throughout the years, that made me realize that growing up with a single mother was the biggest blessing I could have been given. My mom is not perfect, she made a lot of mistakes. She always told me everyone can grow from their mistakes. No matter how badly I mess up in life, tomorrow is a new day to change the outcome. I’m not confined to my regrets, I’m a survivor not a victim and I’m certainly not going to let anyone in life control my destiny. I do what I need to do for myself and always keep my head held high. But most of all, she taught me that strength always comes from struggle.

My mother is by far, hands down, without a doubt the strongest person I know. Through all of life’s bullsh*t, she always has a smile on her face, she always makes sure that people know she is there for them—and, above all, she never gives up. She’s told me countless times that struggle is the backbone of any person in the world—and without a struggle, we would never know what it is like to truly enjoy the peace and quiet.

My second inspiration is my Grandmother. During a time where we all felt weak, my Grandmother grew stronger. At a time of defeat, my Grandmother grew victorious. Such strength and faith still leave me speechless. My Grandmother is my hero!

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Image Credit:
Bien Mesana Photography

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