We all have fantasies. It’s a normal part of our subconscious. But what happens when that childhood fantasy or adult daydream turns out differently than expected? In the fun, new summer FOX series Fantasy Island, starring Roselyn Sánchez, viewers get to see how the things we want can turn out unexpectedly, and often far better than we’d ever imagined. Each episode focuses on people who seem so sure of their dreams, but with a little island magic, they realize that what they want isn’t always what they need. This transformative AHA moment happens for many women IRL, too.
Some dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, only to discover that having a career was the fulfillment they needed. Others had visions of living in a city or with a partner, and found that the place they landed was better than the dream.
Read how six women in our community saw their fantasy transform into an unexpected but happier reality below, and for a look at what can happen when every fantasy can be fulfilled, don’t miss the series premiere of Fantasy Island, August 10 at 9/8c on FOX!
Birthing Your True Fantasy
Some wait their whole lives to become a mother while others — such as Caressa Walker of Fort Worth, Texas — stumble into it. Walker dreamed of becoming a nurse — until an unexpected change of plans happened. “In January 2019 I found out I was pregnant,” she says. “Tears instantly ran down my face. How could I be pregnant with only one year left to finish nursing school?” However, when she gave birth to her son in September that same year, she realized her interrupted career goals gave way to an even more fulfilling vocation. “After delivering my son and COVID-19 coming to a head, I started to realize the very fantasy I dreamed of was the one I was currently living,” says Walker. As she reflects on becoming a mother nearly two years later, she sees how fortunate she is for the change in course. She adds, “I trusted my gut and realized that delivering my son also delivered a fantasy I didn’t see coming.”
Turning the Page to Something Better
Stacy Verdick Case of Stacy, Minnesota, had always fantasized about being an author and having a radio program where she would get to discuss all things books. In true bibliophile form, she was even published a few years ago, which she says was one of her biggest accomplishments. Being the go-getter that she is, she continued her career in publishing. “Being all go, full speed ahead, I approached the local talk radio station about a book talk show. They offered to let me produce a podcast under their banner and I jumped at it,” says Case. But the job, although something she had longed for, wasn’t what she expected. She soon realized that life had other plans for her. “I walked away and started my own business selling vintage and repurposed furniture — another passion of mine — and it has brought happiness back to me,” she says. Case may not have pictured her life unfolding the way it did, but she’s all the more grateful for the journey, which taught her a valuable lesson: what you want is not always what you need.
Losing a Job and Gaining a Career
When Julia Suh of Los Angeles, California, started her motivational Instagram account, @themantraco, in 2018 she had no idea it would grow to what it is today. But when you find something you love and that helps other people, you have to follow your heart — and that’s exactly what Suh did. “Initially, I created it for myself as a creative outlet to empower myself as I was going through some emotional struggles, but dreamed of it growing so I could help people in a way that it helped me,” says Suh. At the time, she was working full-time as a stylist for a brand, which prevented her from spending extra time on her account. Then the pandemic hit and like so many people, Suh was laid off. Instead of wallowing, she took the opportunity to give her social media presence her full attention, and it immediately paid off. “I decided to go all in on my business,” she says. She’s glad she did because in a matter of five days, her account grew from 700 followers to 800,000, all organically. “Now we’re at over a million followers,” she says. “Little did I know it would resonate with people around the world. It was so unexpected, yet so aligned with what I envisioned.”
Rewriting “Happily Ever After”
We’re all familiar with the happily ever after trope — boy rescues girl, girl falls in love, and the two live in wedded bliss. But little did Wendy Ainsworth of Monterey, California, know she would end up rescuing herself and falling in love with a small country town. The story starts in 2013 when after dating for two years, Ainsworth got engaged to the “man of my dreams.” She thought she was going to get her fairytale ending with him, and even ended up selling her home to move with him to the Midwest. But shortly thereafter, she realized the man of her dreams was just that — a dream. “After we moved, I discovered he was seeing other women romantically on the side,” she says. At the time, she was devastated, but what turned out to be his loss, became her gain and chance to discover her real fantasy.
Knowing she had to start fresh, she found a job in the Monterey, California area, and drove there for three days with her two dogs and cat in tow. “I knew nobody there and had no idea if I would even like it,” says Ainsworth. “But I found a small farm in the country near Monterey and fell in love with it, and met some of the most wonderful and supportive friends and neighbors.” She even uncovered passions she never knew she had. “I started gardening, raising chickens, goats and writing a blog. I am the happiest I have ever been here, and none of it would have been possible if it weren’t for that relationship,” she adds.
Discovering Mom Is the Boss
Growing up with a less than desirable upbringing, all Jennifer Bigler of San Francisco, California, wanted was to be a stay-at-home mom. After meeting her husband at 17 and having two kids, she had her chance. However, after just six months she found that being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t what she wanted after all. It turned out what she really needed was a life for herself. “Living my life for everyone else was not fulfilling,” says Bigler. “I knew that going back into the workforce wasn’t an option so I started my own business. It has allowed me to still be the mom I want to be, while having something that fulfills my soul too.” Despite always thinking just being a mom and wife would be all she needed, she knows now that version of herself was a fantasy. “While being a wife and mom is part of who I am, it is not what I am,” she says. “I am my own entity, I am an entrepreneur, and because of that I am happy.”
Finding an (Unexpected) Forever Home
With its historic architecture, delicious food and fun nightlife, it’s easy to see why Sarah Chetrit would want to live in Paris. “Ever since I visited Paris at age 17, I wanted to live there. I spent my college days fantasizing of moving there and only interviewing at jobs that had offices worldwide,” says Chetrit. But after starting a corporate job, she quickly realized moving within the firm wouldn’t be as easy as she anticipated. Luckily, her husband asked his company to move them abroad — and they did! But rather than relocate them to the City of Love, the company assigned them to a totally different European city. “They ended up moving us to Amsterdam, Netherlands, which wasn’t my dream European city, but it’s better than I could’ve imagined,” she says. “Amsterdam couldn’t have come at a better time. Because of the slower pace of life and cheaper cost of living than New York City, I was able to start my blogging business, focus on my health and even buy a home. We’re even looking forward to having kids here one day!”
This article was created by SheKnows for Fox’s Fantasy Island.