Some believe that there are people destined in our lives while some dismiss this as a romantic notion. For my case, this is especially true with new friends who just “click.” Without intending to, you just find yourself getting lost in conversations about life and everything in between.
This feeling knowing each other forever was exactly how I felt upon meeting the young and vibrant beauty editor of Cosompolitan magazine, Meriam Ahari.
I was instantly drawn to Meriam because of her authenticity, kindness, and genuine interest in the person she was talking to. A seasoned traveller, she also exuded the right mix of sophistication and humility but what amazed me about her was the fact that she chose to leave a high profile job in Glamour magazine in New York to take the leap and accept a post in the Philippines.
Born to an American father and a Filipina mother, Meriam graduated with a degree in Fashion Design from Virginia Commonwealth University before heading to Brooklyn, New York City where she worked different jobs including designing for J. Crew before switching to editorial as a stylist for Self Magazine, and later on a beauty assistant at W Magazine.
Despite living the “dream” in the heart of New York City, Meriam still couldn’t shake off her lifelong dream of living in another country. It was when she met her boyfriend, Shane, that she got started on turning the dream into a reality.
She recalled, “I met my boyfriend who just moved to New York from London. He also shared my desire to explore the most remote, exotic countries the world has to offer. After having dated only a year, we made the bold decision to move overseas together.”
With a desire to relocate, Meriam, however, was determined to continue her career as a beauty editor in a fashion magazine so she simply tried her luck at looking up all the English-written publications around the world and started applying for jobs.
“Finally, I found the perfect opening for beauty editor at Cosmopolitan,” she enthused.
The assignment, though a shot at the dark at the beginning, felt like fate for Meriam because of her Filipino roots. She said, “I have visited the Philippines in 2012 and although I don’t speak the language, I felt familiar enough with the culture.”
It also helped that her boyfriend, who has never been to the Philippines before, was willing to take the take the risk with her. “It was a great leap of faith on his part. He works as a director of events and was able to continue working for his New York-based company from abroad, while also picking up additional freelance work,” she noted.
Finding herself at the right place at exactly the right time, it was as if the stars aligned and Meriam found herself coming home to a country that she always carried with her but never quite fully knew.
A year later, Meriam’s eyes sparkles when describing the unknown places in the country she has been able to discover with her boyfriend by her side.
Despite this, Meriam would still be the first to admit that the transition was crazy at the beginning especially since the entire move took less than a month to materialize. She explained, “Everything happened so fast and everything was so new.”
Her biggest challenge was trying to prove that she could fit right into the Filipino culture that was the polar opposite of the fast paced New York lifestyle that she was used to. She was very conscious of being viewed as the ‘uptight American’ or ‘jaded New York’ but eventually, she has learned to adapt into the more “chilled” culture of the country where she had the luxury of hour long breaks that weren’t possible in New York.
The move also challenged her work wise and has developed her skills in a way that would not be possible elsewhere since running the beauty section of Cosmopolitan is a one-woman show.
She said, “I had to adjust to being a one-woman show—an assistant, editor, and director all rolled into one. This was incredibly overwhelming and stressful at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was amazing to discover what I was capable of accomplishing.”
Still, her decision she says leaves her with no regrets.
“This has been such a rewarding and education experience. I used to have the mentality that everything revolved around the New York bubble I was living in. Stepping outside of that bubble made me realize what significant things are happening all over the world every day,” she enthused.
When asked what advice she would give to those who wish to just get up and leave, she replied, “Just do it. Reach deep down inside yourself, find every ounce of bravery, courage, and boldness that you possess and just make the move.”
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