My defining moments

The front courtyard of my element school in Beitou.

Thinking back, I recall a handful of moments that changed either in the way I view my world or the path of my life. There weren’t many of them, but definitely enough that they each help shaped the person I have become. It’s convenient to think people are of certain way because of their background. However, that often is a small factor in what defines a person.

My first moment. I was probably around 5–6 years old. I had the sudden realization that we were not as well off as I had obliviously thought. At the same time I had learned such thing as rich and poor. A social and economic class structure had suddenly become apparent to me… well, at least in the perspective of a 5 year old. I vowed at that point I was never going to be poor. I later learned to appreciate the value of hard work both my parents and my grandma put in raising me and my sister.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary given to me by the second week I got to the US.

My second moment. I had just turned 15 on the airplane halfway across the North Pacific Ocean. It had been about a few hours after dropping off my mother at the airport. She accompanied me in moving to the US with my aunt. She spent a week here, mostly catching up on sleep from jet lag. We had only maybe a couple nights where she spoke to me about respecting my aunt and starting a new life. It didn’t hit me until after we had came back from the airport. At that moment I realized what felt like the beginning of a vacation was the beginning of what seemed to be the scariest thing ever; learn to live a new life in a strange country, fast.

My third moment. I finally broke up with my long time girlfriend from college. We were engaged, and hated every moment of it. It had been a dysfunctional, on again off again, 7 year long relationship. I had once again felt alone and was devastated. Even though part of me knew it was over long ago and that it was the best decision for the both of us. Realizing the breakup was finally real hit me like a ton of bricks. In the midst of my super-dramatic, breakup mindset of “I will never date again!” I did make a promise to myself that I’d find a girl opposite of her. My wife found me.

My fourth moment. My wife, then girlfriend at the time just told me she’s pregnant. I panicked and realized my measly hourly wage was not going to cut it. I talked my friends whom worked at an engineering firm into setting up an interview for me. I apparently impressed the boss enough to get hired on as part time file clerk and later took on the full time secretary when my friend went on her maternity leave and full time mom. After a month worth of self-taught online tutorials, I was finally given a technical position in the company I work at. It didn’t come easy, not just for me. The promotion came in exchange of one of my friends getting let go. Granted he was goofing off way more than the tolerable amount. After seeing him getting let go the same day I was announced to the group. I had set in my mind that since I was given the chance to proof myself, that I need to commit to the opportunity and succeed. I celebrated my 10 year anniversary last year.

My fifth moment…

I am still looking for my fifth moment. During 2014, I transferred to our Houston office to help train the staff and assist with workload. My wife and I were both working so much, I started feeling something was missing in my life. I decided to start a side business designing wedding invitations. The first year was rough. Many, many sleepless nights working through designs after designs for my collection. After countless hours and lots of money poured into this project. I saw very little traction, but I kept going. Started a new collection at the beginning of 2017 and focused more on building relationship with clients and prospective clients. I scored more sales and expanded in doing some design work for brands. Yet the business is not where I imagined.

I had been measuring my success based on the decision I had to make and thinking that is the undeniable standard of which people hold their own measure of success.

I will be turning 40 later this year. It’s a bit of scary thought. A lot have been on my mind. What am I doing with my career? What about my side business? What the hell is SEO and growth hacking? How am I doing with my relationship with everyone around me? Am I happy with myself? What do I value in life? A lot of questions swirling in my mind with no idea how I’d answer these questions for myself. I began to feel very vulnerable and just looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Perhaps there is no fix. Perhaps these are just your typical life pondering moments people question themselves with. (especially those turning 40! arrg…) I’m still figuring all these out. But the one thing I have come to realize is this. I have possibly been trying to answer the wrong questions. In all these moments in my life that which changed me, they were all fairly dramatic in a sense it forced me to make significant decisions. I had been measuring my success based on the decision I had to make and thinking that is the undeniable standard of which people hold their own measure of success.

So. Then what? What would now be my measure of success/happiness? Or perhaps what would be my focus now? And how would I define value/purpose? I know one thing for certain is it won’t be of the same criteria given to me. Dare I say even by my old self. All the moments happened in which I had to become reactionary. Although with good outcome at the end, I have been constantly looking outward for validation. I think it’s time I start looking inward and focus on building relationship with my family and friends.

Thank you for reading my post. What were some of your defining moment? How do you define value or purpose in your life?