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What on earth am I doing here?

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

Don't get me wrong: I would like to thank QV Woman, for inviting me to contribute a piece for the guest blog, although it is a daunting task given the quality of the previous blogs on the site.

I am a marketing professional and artist. I share insights on those subjects on LinkedIn, Instagram, and my websites. They do not define me though and, my profession and art provide an outlet for me to be me.

QV Woman is a unique space where we can share our thoughts, experiences, and values. It provides an opportunity to support each other and be better, happier and more accomplished women in our own world. I am sure many of you do not find it surprising that the most successful leaders during the pandemic have been women. Men may still rule the world, but perhaps women care for it more?

A bit about myself

I never set out to live abroad. It was by accident that I started on this journey. My cousin dragged me to take an exam organised by Dutch university recruitment. I passed (she did not, so we always talk that this was our fates). My parents and teachers all thought it was good for me to see the world. Their encouragement set me on my international path. I say encouragement, but if you have ever read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", you will understand what I really mean – LOL. During my first few years of studying in the Netherlands, I worked hard to achieve good grades to make my parents proud despite all the cultural and language difficulties. I did not want to let them down or me.

"Find out what you really love, and it's equally valuable to find what you really don't like."

When I finished my degree in Business Management in the Netherlands, like many other international students, I was facing the dilemma of what to do next. I wasn't ready to go back to China to compete in a tough job market with thousands of other overseas returners (referred to as turtles). And I wasn't sure what to study if I stayed. At this crossroad, someone very dear to me told me "Find out what you really love, and it's equally valuable to find what you really don't like."

His advice changed my life.

I started to live my own life, not a life determined by my parents or teachers, even though I thank them for the many decisions they made for me.

My passion is art, and my profession is business. I searched and searched and found the Master of Art in Design Management in the UK that I thought would perfectly combine my passion and work.

Looking back, I am pleased to have made those decisions. It's not because I have my own marketing consultancy and art business, but because I have been faithful to myself. I have found what I love in life, and along the journey, I also know what I don't like and those things I'm certainly not good at.

"What on earth am I here for."

Now in my 30s, I'm exploring my role in this life, thanks to another close friend. He recommended a book called "The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For?" by Rick Warren.

COVID19 amplifies the goodness and badness in people and the power of the individual in the community. Everywhere around the world, we've seen people supporting each other to get through the darkness. Frontline carers look after the vulnerable people, the communities support the frontline workers, and individuals help struggling local businesses. We've also seen people take advantage of this by putting a premium price on PPEs.

I questioned myself: what can I do, apart from staying at home and not potentially spreading the virus? I discovered that there was a lot I could do. Many creative people and organisations out there set up projects and recruited volunteers to help others. For example, like many other artists around the UK, I volunteered to offer free portraits for frontline workers. It might be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But if we can make a frontline worker smile, what difference may that have. Thousands of other artists also supported this project.

Then I questioned: what's the meaning of our businesses? Like many businesses, we are trying to survive in this pandemic. However, we are lucky that our companies can still operate without physical meetings. Of course, businesses are there to profit, but their existence also plays a role in society. We decided to make masks with my art to add colour and spirit to people's lives to show that wearing a mask can be fashionable and overcome any adversity. In our marketing consulting business, we decided to focus all of our efforts on helping people transform their businesses to survive the pandemic and prosper in the new normal.

Back to the title of this post – "what on earth am I doing here?" I don't think I have a definitive answer to that yet. However, I am pretty happy with what I am doing with my life and businesses at present. I am doing what I love. The appreciation of my art and the success of our clients helps. It helps others find their own raison d'etre.

Queen Elizabeth II is well recognised for her sacrifice and service to the country. But Prince Philip's mother, Princess Andrew of Greece) who devoted her life to serving the poor: "It's not about status. It's about service." She was posthumously named a Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government.

Unlike previous QV Woman posts, I am afraid that I don't have any specific advice to give you. Still, I hope that by sharing my life journey, I can somehow inspire you to embrace what you are passionate about and embrace the people and the environment around you.


Siyuan Ren is a marketing professional and artist. She lives in England and occasionally when she gets a break from her work and art, she loves to take a walk in the English countryside or chase her mate like a kid in the garden of Chatsworth House, where Mr Darcy used to live...She loves all kinds of team sports, particularly a good ladies' fight in epee, or a fierce double badminton game. Oh, have I mentioned she loves peonies? Check out her art, and you'll know.

You can see her art at, or follow @artbythepeonygirl on Instagram.

To learn more about her marketing business, please visit: (visit Opinions for business and marketing advice)

Or, follow her on LinkedIn:

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Windy City Girl
Windy City Girl
Mar 05, 2021

You know, anyone can travel, but only a very few can actually learn from it and make their lives better from those experiences. I have always felt that. I meet a lot of people in my line of work (PR) and many brag about going here or there and meeting so and so....but their behavior many a time leaves a lot to be desired. When I was new to the field I would think, oh maybe they are not really so well traveled and they are simply saying stuff, someone who has seen so much of the world cannot possibly be and talk like this.

Over time I have realized, our experiences do not change us automatically unless we make…


Feb 09, 2021

'Men may still the rule the world but women care about it more'! In that one sentence you have finally told us how and why we are different from our male counterparts (and better!!).

Whatever your journey and life story is Siyuan, you have chosen to learn from it and use those lessons for betterment of humankind.

Knowing oneself is the hardest thing ever and I laud you for being honest with yourself and discovering who you are. I leave you with this quote from Lao Tzu: 'He who knows others is clever; but he who knows himself is enlightened'.

May be it is time I sat down and did the same! You may not have specific advice, but in…


Aparna Saligrama
Aparna Saligrama
Feb 09, 2021

Vidya, if this is a discussion you want to take forward, I'd be happy to talk to you to see if you want to 'think out loud' on QV Woman. This is why we exist!! Let us know, you know how to contact us!


Aparna Saligrama
Aparna Saligrama
Feb 09, 2021

Thank you Siyuan for the honest blog. This is why I started Quiet Value Woman, for women to share their opinion, enlighten others, make others think and challenge their own assumptions. This is only the beginning, I would love to see more of you on Quiet Value Woman of course, and I am sure we can see great things from The Peony Girl. We at QV Woman will be sure to cheer you on!


vidya veeresh
vidya veeresh
Feb 08, 2021

Thanks for sharing the post Siyuan, its insightful to conveys a postive message. I keep asking myself this question "What on earth am i doing here"? and may be its time for me to retrospect the way you have done it in your write up.

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