Credit: Instagram/sharonau13

At the height of her career as a TV host-actress in 2005, Sharon Au disappeared from the spotlight.

She had taken up a scholarship given to her by Mediacorp and travelled to the land of the rising sun to further her education at Waseda University.

Back then, the reason she gave for leaving fame and fortune behind was as such: Her scholarship had a deadline, and she had grown to dislike the type of person she became as a result of the limelight.

She was also told that she was too old for university, so to prove them wrong, off she went.

But in a video interview with Hello Singapore recently, the 45-year-old revealed that there were more factors at play behind her decision.

While a lot of people had commended her on her courage to take such a leap of faith, Sharon said it was nothing like that at all.

“I’m actually really embarrassed,” she laughed. “The reason is so shallow.”

Her then-boyfriend’s parents, especially his mother, looked down on actors and thought Sharon was simply not good enough for her son.

And Sharon believed it too.

She explained that she had truly loved her then-boyfriend and thought: Should they get married in the future, she couldn’t remain as “just an actor”.

For her, not only was having a diploma important, she saw the need to have a bachelor’s and a master’s, too. Only then would she feel worthy of her boyfriend.

Sharon deadpanned: “Wasn’t that embarrassing? I told you.”

Ironically, her then-boyfriend called it quits nine months after she made her big move, leaving her dumbfounded. She recounted during the interview that she didn’t know what to do.

Eventually, she learnt to live for herself and persevered with her education, finally graduating in 2011.

Once, while in Japan, she coincidentally ran into her ex-boyfriend’s mother, and as they chatted, Sharon realised that even after their split, the elderly woman had kept herself updated with her life.

And bumping into her again, it wasn’t anger or resentment that filled her. Instead, she felt a wave of gratefulness wash over her.

“If she hadn’t given me that push, I might not have been able to leave my comfort zone.”

This article was first published in AsiaOne.