Beauty queen Zara Carbonell advises Filipino youth to look beyond hustle culture celebrated on social media in new memoir

Beauty queen Zara Carbonell advises Filipino youth to look beyond hustle culture celebrated on social media in new memoir


Success is every 20-something-year old’s aspiration after college. But in the relentless pursuit of attaining it, we get lost in translation of what success really means. 

For many, success is attributed to career progression and having a life planned down to the detail. Having a fulfilling job, a perfect relationship, and hitting milestones every year is the ideal life (or so the social media and hustle culture perpetuate). So when life takes a turn, how do you cope with the anxiety and uncertainties of the future? 

Beauty queen Zara Carbonell challenges the definition of success and fulfillment in her new book Lost You, Found Me, launched last May 29, 2022 at Ascott Hotel BGC. In this full sensory experience, guests were immersed in the book’s content through personal anecdotes, curated paintings representing chapters from the book, as well as hors d'oeuvre curated by award-winning chef, Chef Prince Patiño, Executive Chef of Scotts BGC, paired with the perfect glass of wine as recommended by the Philippine Wine Merchants to indulge the audience’s palettes.

Throughout the launch, guests were free to explore the different sensory experiences, photo booth, and gave away free mental health vouchers to everyone in attendance. Kiana Valenciano’s Dazed, is also played as the book’s theme song to enhance the sensory experience. She has made a version of Dazed especially for Carbonell’s Lost You, Found Me.

Carbonell highlights the importance of holistic wellness in achieving success in her new book published by Bookshelf PH, a book publisher in the Philippines that helps self-published authors and brands find a wider readership. 

The book centers around Carbonell’s rollercoaster life experiences as an emerging woman in her 20s. She details her painful breakup with a former long-term boyfriend and how she used the experience to propel her journey towards her successes – being the country’s first Miss Tourism Worldwide in 2018, starting her own firm, and now being a published author.

“Leaning into the pain and looking within yourself is the most important step towards fulfillment and ultimately, success,” said Carbonell during her anecdote. “Change only happens when you develop a healthy relationship with yourself and sometimes, that means you have to let go of relationships that hold you back to focus on who you really want to be.”

Interestingly, the book’s tagline - Navigating through life, heartache, and purpose in your 20s - captures the essence of redefining success and fulfillment. While we’re mostly focused on the destination when chasing our dreams, it’s more important to savor the ephemerality of life’s journey. 

Carbonell, who is ambitious and driven herself, finds it challenging to focus on the process over the result when reaching for success. She shares the struggle of being an almost, which is characterized as a person who’s neither a winner or a loser in reference to her early years of beauty pageantry. But overtime, she realized that her unremitting pursuit of success took a toll on her well-being. 

“I wanted to know who I was without the sash,” Carbonell said. “Taking ownership and accountability of my life involves looking after my health and building fulfillment from inside out.”

Her advocacies are felt even more so as she evolves into a serial entrepreneur and CEO of The Social Startup, which focuses on the different facets of digital marketing, public relations, and content creation. The digital space has been a great venue in empowering women, promoting self-love, and pushing for quality education–all of which are Zara’s life missions.

Lost You, Found Me encapsulates the quarter-life crisis of many Filipino youth. Expectations and anxiety for the future often rattle the youth’s minds. But Carbonell leverages on her personal experiences as proof that we are not alone. And that success, as sky-high as we dream it to be, can be achieved when we focus on the process instead of the outcome.

“Creating this book with Zara reconnected us with the beauty of publishing,” Monette Quiogue, co-founder of Bookshelf PH said. “We hope this book will inspire, not just the Filipino youth, but also people of all ages.”

Joining Carbonell in redefining success and fulfillment were editor-in-chief Mio Borromeo, managing editor Sam Balinado, cover artist and creative director Bettina dela Paz, deputy editorial director Kyle Nate, and layout artist John Dave Isono.

Lost You, Found Me can be ordered here: 


By Porsha Mangilit


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