Reflecting is always a weird thing to do. I think back to the start of 2019 and can’t for the life of me remember what I was like — or who I was. Did I change? I must have. And then all these questions would flood my mind.
Was it good change?
Was it the kind of change I wanted?
Would my freshman-year self, full-of-dreams-bigger-than-could-be-fathomed-in-the-bounds-of-reality self be disappointed at the direction I’ve taken?
Did I create my own path or did I just move with the current?
Am I too comfortable now?
Did I take a step backwards?
I think about this a lot. Even as I’m a few weeks well into 2020, I find myself still grappling at an answer.
At the start of 2019, I thought that I would have switched jobs by the end of the year. That did not happen.
At the start of 2019, I thought I’d scratch that entrepreneurial itch and start an online store again. That didn’t happen.
At the start of 2019, I thought I would be able to pick up reading for fun, now that it wouldn’t be because I HAD to for school, but that didn’t happen.
At the start of 2019, I thought I’d finally try that healthy, active, post-grad lifestyle and do Barry’s, Basecamp, and all those fitness classes that all the young professionals seemed to be doing. Didn’t last the whole year.
But some things did happen.
I made this blog with Praisella.
I finally went to Korea and travelled solo a bit for the first time, which was REALLY out of my comfort zone.
I did my first public speaking engagement at an UCSB AMA panel event.
I led my first client onsite.
I found a new community and made new friends outside of work by joining a social impact program.
I thought that I would stay as a couch potato (…kind of still did happen — can’t ignore the introvert in me heh). But I’d say I balanced that pretty well with actively making plans to go out and about.
I thought that I would continue my one-hour commute on that Bart life (bay area peeps if you know you know). That did not happen. Thankfully, I moved out of my parents’ house into San Francisco. My bank account is looking a little sadder than before, but I’ve regained the sense of freedom and independence I sorely missed when I was at UCSB and it’s honestly worth every penny of my SF rent.
I thought that I wouldn’t be able to open up at work. After not clicking with my immediate co-workers right away the first few days of work, I thought that I’d be fine staying at a purely professional level with them instead of becoming friends. It wasn’t for a while until we all became friends, but at the time I remember feeling so disappointed.
The first few months when I started working were pretty tough. I experienced a great deal of imposter syndrome (and to some degree still totally do in my role in a different way but that’s another story) — I had felt that I didn’t fit into my work culture where everybody seemed to be able to strike up a conversation with a stranger at ease. And I felt this especially so with my department’s co-workers. I couldn’t help but compare myself to them.
Everybody I looked at seemed to be so put together, so comfortable in their own skin, so charming, so social…. so them. And I felt the complete opposite. It was foreign to me. When I was at UCSB, even though I was (and still am) an introvert at heart, I was completely comfortable in my own skin. I found my own people — multiple groups actually from the various student orgs I was a part of — and made friends easily in class. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I felt like a fish out of water, like I took a step back into the past like a freshman in high school at a place that was supposed to signify the start of my “boss-lady” adulthood.
I began to realize that my self confidence, and therefore my self esteem, stemmed largely from how much I felt I contributed to the community. I think that feeling naturally comes as you go from freshman to sophomore to junior to senior year. But I feel like I was able to assimilate incredibly quickly at school because of how involved I was in all spaces of my interests. I was with peers who all were there by some shared passion or sense of curiosity. There was a feeling of being on equal terms. As I grew more involved, I became a leader in some shape or form with whatever group I was participating in and admittedly, I took a lot of pride with that. My confidence grew because I could go, “see — look at the difference I’m making during my time here.”
But my time there was not forever. It was finite and graduation marked the end of that period. Starting my first job at a large tech company meant starting over from the utter bottom. Except this time, I wasn’t able to contribute as much as I was used to or would have liked to. I was part of a year long training program and there really wasn’t much of a difference I could make simply because it was such a large company with all the bureaucratic tendencies that came with it. I didn’t feel like I was on “equal” terms with my coworkers, both from a social aspect and from a career aspect, especially when I looked at my older co-workers who had many more years of experience than me. In a customer facing, advisory role like mine, my perceived misfit felt amplified. And because of that, I felt like I always had to be “on” in a way that started to feel draining and inauthentic to myself.
At the time I really couldn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was. It was perplexing. In my mind, self development, self confidence, and everything that came with growing up was supposed to go on an upward trend. But like everything else in life, it was more like a roller coaster ride, complete with dips and turns and sometimes without a floor underneath your feet.
It took a lot of self awareness but also self assurance to reconcile the dissonance I felt between who I was pre-grad to post-grad. It took me a long time — from late 2018 into a good part of 2019 — before I came to terms with myself and truly felt like: yes, I do belong here, I wasn’t hired by mistake. I began to feel comfortable being my whole self and stopped feeling like I had to compensate for my imposter syndrome. I started to open up at work and the friendships I built with my coworkers allowed me to overcome my misconception that I had to act a certain way because I was hired to be a certain way.
I learned to take a chance on becoming uncomfortable again, to encourage myself to do things I wanted to do but was too scared to. Sometimes they would go way better than expected and I would think “that wasn’t so bad after all” and be glad that I did it. Sometimes I would think “this is why you don’t leave the house” and then scold myself because I knew I didn’t mean that — it was only unenjoyable because I didn’t know what to expect. With each new experience, I grew to embrace the uncertainty and sought comfort in knowing that the unknown would become the familiar.
To sum up 2019?
I don’t know if I would say that self-acceptance should be included in the overall theme of 2019 because to be honest that is still a journey I’m working on. But I’m getting close. Maybe 2020 will be that year. Maybe it’s not as simple as that. Maybe it’s a lifelong journey.
And that’s okay too.
My 2020 Goals
To hold myself accountable
- Care less about what people think of me
- Stop feeling intimidated and become more comfortable interacting with customers at client onsites
- Speak up more in team meetings
- Be better with managing my time by doing a personal time study: log how I’ve been spending my time and adjust my habits accordingly
- Take more time to read for fun: set aside some time every week to read
- Learn what genres I like to read as an “adult”
- Join a book club
- Learn more video editing techniques — through youtube, workshops and/or classes
- Start a film portfolio: make vlogs, music art films, and/or mock commercials
- Learn how to storyboard
- Write a short story script
- Buy a camera for filming
- Make a short film
- Learn Korean
- Write on blog more often and consistently
- Write short stories from childhood
- Go on Japan trip with my boyfriend AL
- Go on Europe trip with Praisella
- Take my parents on a family trip
- Take action to explore the role I want to take for the next step in my career path, whether that’s through informational interviews, workshops, or events
- Become more involved as an alumna at my alma mater, UCSB
- Join a dance or zumba class
- Take care of myself better
- Sleep earlier
- Establish regular exercise routine
- Get involved in ALS efforts
- Rekindle and maintain past friendships by calling or texting more frequently
- Make an effort to make new friends by saying yes more often to invites