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Sunday, November 27, 2011


Somehow I've stumbled onto the age of 30, wrapping up a rather eventful second decade of life and decided to do a little bit of reflection. When I started this blog exactly 3 years ago on my birthday it was because I didn't think I'd live to see me in my thirties. Thus, started a series of gut instincts, irrational decision making, emotions, and adventures in the past 3 years which have pushed me into and over every limit possible.

I know it's pretty cliche, but when your life does flash before your eyes, your priorities change - mine definitely did. What it has done for my life, was allowed me to live it and learn more about myself in the process. Completing my lifelong goals were a lot more important than everyday life.

Physically - I wanted to lose weight, adopt a healthy lifestyle and be as healthy as I possibly can. (I've fallen off the wagon here but trying to get back at it :) I climbed up Half Dome, trekked up to Machu Picchu, saw sunrise in Crater Lake, hiked in Sapa and did a sprint triathlon. Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat have been on my things-to-see-before-i-die list and I did it.

Food - I learned how to cook fresh local ingredients of all countries and could replicate michelin star food, street food, and met the best chefs in the world during the Olympics and in my travels to Vietnam. Earlier, I simply didn't know how to cook and found that I enjoyed it immensely. Food is definitely an interest that everyone has in common and almost a common universal language on how people interact, get to know each other and keep in touch. One item on my checklist of life was to spend time in Vietnam learning how to cook and...I did it and wrote a book about it. I also got to cook on a sailboat all the way down the beautiful west coast to San Francisco - who does that :)

Love - I never knew what love was three years ago - love for a boyfriend, love for friends and love for well as love for myself. It has definitely been a wild ride as I let the engineering/logic side take a back seat and rolled with the punches. Coming from a divorced family and being Vietnamese, I used to block out love and attachment as a survival mechanism. Now I realize that to be whole and live, you need both the love and career side of things. Family is important and so are my closest friends. Finally admitting that I love someone was a giant feat for me and accept all the scary fears of rejection that comes along with that.

Business - I've always envisioned myself to be a CXO - where X is a variable like Executive, Information, Technology, etc - the jack of all trades. I had always wanted to work for myself and I figured there was no time like the present. It has definitely been a wild ride with plenty of learnings, experiences, ups and downs and it's still going...but what I've always learned is Kaizen - the pursuit of continuous improvement. Although most times I'm scared shitless about how uncertain entrepreneurship can be - I can't see myself do it any other way. What I've learned is priceless - I've learned that I'm great at pivoting and adapting to new situations. I've learned that I'm terrible at decision making, fear failure more than I want to.

Failure - I lived my whole life not trying that hard at school or work or in any situation so that I could make excuses about when it does fail that it wasn't my fault. I feared failing - I was a very cocky individual and definitely got put in my place as I was not successful in anything I did time and time again. I've seen the bottom, many times and it's not all that bad. You gather up your strength, figure out what resources you need and you get back up again and try again. I'm luckily surrounded by loved ones who are there for me to soften that fall. But at the end of the day, that word is completely out of my vocabulary. I'm finally not afraid to fail and that if you put in your best efforts and things don't work out, it wasn't meant to just learn from it and move on.

Anyway, I'm not sure what my 30s hold, but I definitely feel blessed about all the experiences I've been through. I also feel blessed about the unconditional love and support from my friends and family over the years as I pick myself up.

I'm finally 30 - with a bank account approaching zero, no salary, no fixed address, and single. But somehow I'm the happiest 30 year old I've ever met.