Can you believe it? I can’t.
I can’t believe that only three months ago I was selling off all of my furniture in New York in order to deliberately move back to San Francisco for this intensive training program to which I had somehow made a commitment. Now we’re done. Proud, humbled, excited and determined at the same time, I just want to keep going. I’m not finished yet. Last week may have been the final week of the program, but in two weeks I will be back in New York again.
*note, I moved back to San Francisco because I needed to be closer to family too…not just for the program 😉
“What? But you just got here!” said everyone.
Well, I’ve given a lot of thought about what shaped my decision.
In short, my journey has been one of finding self-respect through identity and direction:
Awareness and identity
This may have all started when I was four. While growing up, I often pondered who I was and who I would become. (Fortunately and unfortunately, I was a highly philosophical child.)
What parts of me are me and what parts of me are just what everyone else has told me to be? My first encounter with this dilemma was when one of my kindergarten teachers (in China) came up to me one day and shocked me with a statement: “Your best friend Zhang Yan is a bad girl, do not play with her anymore. 张燕是个坏孩子，不要和她一起玩儿了” Of course, my gut told me that Zhang Yan is not a bad girl so I took heed of the teachers recommendations to observe my friend for a day in order to decide if our teacher was speaking the truth. I assimilated this to a story that I had read not long before with my grandmother about a little pony trying to test the depth of the water before he crossed the river. In the end, the pony just had to experience the truth for himself. And the truth for me was that Zhang Yan was not a bad girl. Or if she was, she was just as bad of a girl as she was a good girl. Also, if the teacher was right then I would also be just as bad if not worse since I made most of the decisions about which games we played throughout the day. As it turns out, there were some petty politics involved with my best friend’s family and the teachers (sadly) and since my familys’ relations were excellent, the teacher wanted to pry Zhang Yan away from benefiting from my friendship (and therefore social protection). In the end I forgave the teacher for being such an idiot, but henceforth, I always felt better when I could think for myself. And as a side effect of that experience, I also developed a protective inclination for my close friends.
Dissatisfaction and fulfillment
Now twenty something years later, most of you know me as a social butterfly who did most of her work in public relations and media. To some, I seemed to hold a promising and successful career, and to others…probably silly or lost. For those of you who knew me well, you knew I was panicked and worried. Some of you suggested I should find the color of my parachute, and others pointed me in the direction of quarter-life crisis literature. You didn’t seem as worried, but I’m glad I was…extremely worried.
Because I realize now what it was that held me back from moving forward: dissatisfaction.
My decision to learn how to code, was driven by a need for fulfillment. There was no real crisis, just a problem I needed to face. I had to get over my denial and my gut was telling me that there was an urgency to catch up with the times in order to be prepared to face the industry I want to be a part of…while I still can. Growing up, my parents were both in the science and technology industry and I was always trying to prove that I could pave success down a different path. But why must I feel the need to cripple myself in order to prove that I am strong?
Indeed, I also got a lot of:
“Why are you studying how to code? You’re social enough, that’s all you need!”
But in the pursuit of fulfillment, I had to pursue this path because I know I can be more than that.
I am the daughter of engineers, the granddaughter of a general, a female opthamologist, and two architects, the great-granddaughter of a female business tycoon, a descendent of a line of ancient scholars. We all came from somewhere, and we’re all here today. The fact that we’re alive now proves that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, some who have given up their luxuries for a meaningful future and some of them, their lives for the pursuit of truth in order to serve justice and compassion for what’s right.
I, too, want to be a builder in the modern world. I want to participate, as a pioneer.
I ultimately want to understand and pursue potential solutions for media & technology.
Social isn’t enough. I need to get my hands dirty.
I need to be able to test how deep the water is, for myself.
New York? New York!
Embracing a light-hearted attitude towards failure or discouragement, and a serious determination towards overcoming challenges, I saw a different side of myself emerge over the past 3 months. I focused. I was hesitant to sacrifice my own learning and intrinsic growth for a few moments of petty pleasure. I took better care of myself, and developed a routine for growth. I took more time to be introspective about life, and listen more carefully to myself.
And a big question was coming up for me as well: how did I feel about San Francisco? Is this where I wanted to be?Maybe, but somehow I had a gut feeling that I needed to go back to New York again. I knew that I would regret not taking this opportunity to move back. I also really enjoyed New York’s tech potential. Besides…New York’s standing as an epicenter of the media industry is a crucial advantage for understanding what problems we face on the convergence of media & tech. Everything else just made sense. I also had a certain craving for a certain cultural depth that I wanted to continue to fulfill while in New York…which will drive me to be who I want to be. There was a vibe I needed from New York that San Francisco couldn’t provide, and the transportation in New York is such a crucial component of life especially when time is so precious during youth! I mostly just felt unhappy thinking about not being back in New York.
So I have secured an apartment in Manhattan (thanks to a truly resourceful friend in the real estate business!!)
I have booked a flight to arrive in New York on the morning of January 5th.
I am preparing for my technical interviews, and will start reaching out soon in this colossal effort once again,
because I am coming back to find employment in New York City.
Check out some of my projects! I’ll have more coming soon:
Take a look at my profile:
Claim a spot on my calendar if you want to see me in person!
*Cue Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” (which, by the way, is NOT about a road less traveled).