Tuesday, June 4, 2013

All the Pieces of My Life

There are times in our lives when moments of clarity occur, when everything makes sense and you marvel at its beauty. These are instances in which we are able to transcend beyond our momentary joy, sorrow, pain, and disappointments and look at the so-called "big picture". For me, such a time as this happened yesterday as I left the office, strapped on my helmet, and proceeded to bike home. It had been an exhaustive day, compounded by the previous night's over-physical exertion at playing basketball. In short, I felt physically and mentally drained -- ready for nothing better than a long nap.

But as I climbed onto my bike and started the journey home, something amazing hit me. As I began to consider about my accomplishments and endeavors recently, I realized just how blessed a life I have lived and how blessed I have been. This thought quickly turned into a "high" that stayed with me for the rest of the evening. (Regrettably, I should have written this blog post last night instead of the day after. I don't feel exactly the same as yesterday....)

These past few months have been a trying time in my life, as I wrestled with failures/disappointments, struggled through various ordeals, and challenged to do many things. One has been the seemingly never-ending search for a new job as I am being laid off my current position. Ironically, I fully understood that it was going to be about attrition but nonetheless felt burned out from all the applying and interviewing. Despite telling myself that I would restart my job applications after returning from my recent vacation to China, I have not posted a single job application since my return. I suppose I either lowered my expectations or gave up entirely -- opting to see through the leads that I had on hand. Admittedly I had grown bitter at my current position, particularly from a perceived sense of being underutilized as well as underappreciated. The latter being highlighted after an insinuation from my manager that in spite of being in line for a promotion, that I wouldn't be because "I wasn't ready." I have been waiting to hear back from the federal government for a new position, in addition from AOL for a seemingly career-moving new role. However, both seemed to be moving very slow and I was beginning to hate the uncertainly of it all.

The second major area of struggle was with relationships with others, namely in dating. Most repeat readers of this blog now should know about the girl named "Mandy", who has left this country last year for her motherland...indefinitely. I had fallen hard for her and it was incredibly depressing at the time to have walked away with nothing but half-empty memories. In the months since, I have told myself to forget about her and move on to someone else -- striving to believe in the proverbial "plenty of fish in the sea" saying. But alas, things simply have not worked out. The girlfriend I liked the most has been someone significantly older in age and, while age wasn't absolutely, it remains a powerful determinant of our habits and thinking. In short, it eventually dawned upon both of us that we were at different stages in our lives; for her my numerous pursuits were a worrying sign of "restlessness" whereas for me, her comfort with the status quo and constant exhaustion overcame her cuteness. We broke up after about 4 months of dating and I'm single again. Since attending a coworker's wedding a week ago, the thought of what could have been with Mandy awakened bitterness that I thought was put to rest.

The third and final major area of struggle is the contrast between where I am and where I want to be. In other words, how I measured against the expectations I had cast on myself and the things that I wanted. For example, I wanted to buy a condo or a house but this likelihood is greatly diminished by the lack of capital in face of Arlington's insane real estate prices. Other examples include a new sports car, a cool dog, and being able to buy parents a lakefront house. Are you beginning to see the pattern? All these things require finances that I do not have, but deeply longing for. Since returning from China, I have visibly been thinking more about money and how to make more of it to spend. But not just spending it on myself. I long for the ability to help others in a significant manner, such as being able to lift my entire extended family out of poverty.

All three struggles or challenges articulated, now let us return to that moment of enlightenment discussed in the beginning. I think I realized something yesterday, something so profound that it affects my own opinion of the future and of my own capabilities. This thing is: endeavor coupled together with persistence. From my recent adventures on Udacity to learn about entrepreneurship, it dawned upon me that my greatest asset is a refusal to succumb to determinism. Personally, it pains me to not strive for something that I want; failures will come and it hurts like hell when I fail, but the silver lining is knowing that I tried to do something rather than doing nothing. The positive term for this is constant "self-improvement" and a lesser term is being a "perfectionist". This is the reason why I have started my own consulting company last year, and the same reason I want to open a restaurant despite a complete lack of industry knowledge and expertise.

In addition to endeavoring, I realized that I had become too focused on the things I thought I lacked and on the things that did not work out. In other words, realizing that I had become a cynic. I had increasingly mired myself with thoughts about not having achieved what I wanted, when all along there are much more important things at play. Or more importantly, there are things I did achieve. I am in a very different place where I was even a few months ago -- less naive perhaps, but a more mature and altogether better self. I discovered a resilience that I didn't know I had, as well as creativity that I believed was only found in artists. For all the things I didn't have, I still have wonderful things like a cohesive family, good health, gainful employment, and awesome friends. I think in hindsight I have made the most of the majority of the opportunities given, taken action when I could. Even when I shouldn't have, I took action and did something. Even when I failed, I learned valuable lessons.

Life, as they say, is beautiful. It is also what you make of it. Don't get caught up in the little things, nor try fruitlessly to restore karma to the world. Be open minded and strive for the things you want. As Conan said, "work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen". I'll also add something from a proverbs book I read -- "shoot for the moon, if you miss, you'll land amongst the stars".

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