Thank you, 2015

(I do realize I make things way more dramatic than it really is, but yo, writing human language is hard. Please be easy on me).

After much procrastination, finally I’ve had a chance to sit down and write something about 2015. For the past few weeks, I’ve had that urge to write something. But I know why that urge existed. 2015, by far, is the most memorable year of my life. A lot of things happened. There were lot of changes, externally and internally, that affected me, for better or worse. I was happy, sad, then happy again. I was angry, then relieved, then happy that such tragedy happened. I learned, and learned again, about myself, my best friends and the world. I read, wrote, listened, watched, and felt. It was hell of a ride, and looking back, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

A big big part this year, of course, is relationship. Or the lack thereof. My long distant relationship with my ex-girlfriend ended in the beginning of the year. Well, to be exact, it ended last year, but it’s complicated and I won’t dwelve too much into it. But that leads to my emotion this year travelling like a roller coaster. It’s up and down and up and down. Sometimes it changes within a day. There are many times when I thought I’ve gotten over it, but I did not, really. Like many who had to go through this rough period, my emotion went from frustration, to bitterness, to acceptance and then normal again. Mixed in that spaghetti is hope and despair. I guess that emotion mess is something that would come with break-up. But I’m glad that happened.

Humans (or at least me) are weird. We know that certain things are inevitable, but we always try our best to avoid it. We hate facing difficult things. We know we just drag our sufferings longer, and we know what’s best for us, but we always choose the comfortable things. The break-up was painful, but necessary. But I learned a lot through it.

One thing I learned, and probably pretty useful to those who just broke up is that, take your time. That roller coaster will come, and it will ride, and at times you’ll find yourself wondering when it will stop. And you’ll find the urge to try to get back. Well, sometimes it does work. But that’s the comfortable option. Try to think rationally (even though it’s kind of impossible). If you know that it will not work, cut it. And let the roller coaster rides. That takes courage, but just like any pendulum, when the pain reaches the top, it will go down.

Because that happened, I really enjoyed the end of that ride. I did not realize how much I enjoyed my single life. I was free, had a lot of time, and my mind was not occupied with many emotions that come with being in a relationship. I was focused (well, I do watch YouTube sometimes…). I reorganized my life. I learned to live better. And more importantly, I spent a lot more time with friends, and learned to appreciate how wonderful they were.

When you have something to fall back to, you don’t really appreciate wonderful things that you come across. That’s exactly what happened when I was in a relationship. I spent way less time with my friends than I should have, because I knew if I needed someone to talk to, I would just turn to her. Well, that’s no longer the case. Without having much of a choice, I decided (or had no choice but) to talk and hangout with friends more, and realized just how fun it was #CaptainObvious.

And then I was an a**hole. I really admired those who were close to me. There were many many instances, I regretted what I said. Again, I was an arse. I was selfish. I was arrogant. I was feeling entitled. More often than not, I was condescending. I knew every moment I said something I should not have. And I regretted every of those moments. But I learned. And I tried to change. And I really really appreciate those who stick with me through those moments. Every now and then, I have that thought, would I want to be close to another Hieu? The answer is still no. And I’m working hard to make that answer yes.

And then it comes to career. And a lot of happiness this year comes from my jobs (well because obviously it didn’t come from my “love” life). Not gonna lie, I had wonderful jobs #humblebrag. I loved every minute of it. Microsoft was a childhood dream come true. Facebook was where I was challenged, doubted, stretched and tested. There was point when I wished I did it differently. There was time when I was so paranoid of not getting the return offer I interviewed with another company (which shall not be named). But through that process, I learned a lot.

Many of what I learned was technical, and I really did not want to go into it because it was boring (!!). But one thing I learned that I remembered most was at Microsoft, and probably would be the most useful thing for my career. That was, how to work with others. Amidst all the media coverage of CEOs and founders on how they worked with others (you know what I’m talking about), what I learned at Microsoft was how to make those who you worked with happy. That’s very important, because your career is a long game. I was surprised, because I came to Microsoft to learn about the technicality of Windows #nerdAlert (Well I did learn that, of course.) But learning the earlier valuable lesson was something I did not expect. And I loved it.

And more importantly, I enjoyed those struggle. I did not realize how much I enjoyed those till I finished my internship and get back to school. People always asked me how to find “passion”. I tried to give them a definite answer, but I’ve always failed. It’s because I never really know whether CS was really my passion. I love philosophy, economics, politics, international affairs, YouTube, games, food, food, food, food and food. But if there is one thing you can use to gauge how much you love something, try struggling with it. Because if you enjoyed it, and not gave it up, chances are you’ll be fine with it, for a long time.

Towards the end of this year, I learned how to drive. (To be clear, I do have a Vietnam license and legally can drive, but I was not good at driving at all). At the end of that last week at school, my best friend, who was supposed to teach me how to drive on freeway, went home. Well, he told me it would be easy. And so did everyone else. But I’ve never driven faster than 35 mph in my life, and that was one thing I needed to learn to fully know how to drive. But there was that crazy thought in me that made me so scared of getting into the freeway. What if the car behind me hit me? What if I could not merge and hit into the car in front of me? What if I could not have time to control because everything was moving too fast? I was kind of scared the night before I decided to just get a car and “whatever just god damn drive it”. And I realized how easy and natural it was. If there is one thing I learned in 2015, it was that, the only thing that ever stopped me from doing something was that crazy thought in my head that constantly generated stream of reasons for me to not step on the gas paddle and merged into that freeway. I learned to get out of my comfort zone, and good God life is good.