I was born with a purpose. I was born with meaning. We all were. And we’ve all been given the freedom to pursue a life that is worthy of our existence.
I’ve known this somewhere deep down all along. But by the time I was able to grasp the rapid unraveling of time and the fleeting experience of our presence on this earth, I began to doubt what really mattered. What does it mean to grow up and be successful? What steps should I take to find true happiness? Fulfillment? I have spent the majority of my life chasing a question with seemingly unending possibility. And for most of my life, I’ve followed the path America has strategically carved out for me to become another good consumer of this world.
I finished high school, went to community college, transferred to university and received my degree. I did well. I got As, and I got a job at Microsoft making six figures right out of college. I was well-rounded and well-liked. I was winning at life. I made the American dream a reality! But there was no satisfaction in this end. Reflecting now, I don’t think I ever expected to find solace in a dream conjured for the masses. Getting to the top of the mountain was only a means for me to unveil the vast perspective of my world.
So I leapt. The first step was accepting a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Taiwan. For a year, I learned and taught and learned and taught. I was in constant revision of myself and my work. I felt my worldview expanding with every “Hello, Teacher” or “臺灣歡迎你“ and my life took on a hundred new meanings for every student I interacted with. I cannot begin to describe the depth in something as simple as bringing joy to a child’s learning. And each student changed me in subtly impactful ways.
After a year, I was faced again with a question: return to the dream or continue the free fall? I was never one to be comforted by fallback plans and safety nets. So I continued my time abroad and became a Project Manager at the Fulbright Taiwan office in Taipei. I began to learn a number of new skills. I became a coordinator, a mentor, a film director, a web developer, a team leader, an application analyst, and an alumni program facilitator. I was given the freedom to learn and grow, creating value with every new project I took on. In this time, I expounded upon many skillsets I’d developed over the years and I was able to better cultivate an understanding of my professional value and developmental interests.
In this second year abroad, I also became the lead project manager for a small tech/ed startup in Taiwan. It was the first time I had returned to the tech world in a year and a half and I was excited about the fluid nature of a startup environment. I reveled in the prospect of value creation and relished in the synchronization of education, tech, and language; all of which I had hoped would be the central focus of this new and growing business. But it was quickly made evident to me that I would not be free to do good work in the company. Instead, I was expected to align myself with archaic and counterproductive regulations and expectations. We were eight people in an office and we were being funneled through one person. The counterintuitive work environment coupled with a family crisis brought me to the decision that I needed to continue my journey on familiar soil. So I returned the States. But never backwards, always forward.
Less than a month after my arrival, I was faced again with the same proposition, this time with the weight of obligation and family financial need upon my shoulders: Take the dream. Be the provider your family needs. Become what is necessary. I am forever grateful for the people who have instilled in me the drive to go beyond what is expected. To see the bigger picture as a culmination of the whole and not the focality of the parts. Did it make sense in that moment to take a good job in the tech industry that would afford me financial and social security? Yes. Would it have been reasonable to choose to go back to school and amplify my scholarship? Certainly. Would it give me the freedom to pursue my existence to its fullest potential? No.
And that is why I have decided to join Praxis. Praxis is an opportunity to take all of what I have, and bet on myself. It is a dare to be everything that I can be and then some. It is an emphasis on the journey our questions take us on instead of a race for the answers. It is the freedom to choose a dream suited to my incomparable potential. And it is a community dedicated to raising the bar, breaking the mold, and celebrating the unending iterations of a meaningful life.
Ross, a dear friend of mine recently described my trajectory as metaphorically jumping ship. Being off the boat is uncertain, it is dangerous, and it is vast. But now that I am in the water, I am free to swim wherever I desire, to build whatever boat I see fit. Praxis is for the shipbuilders and the seafarers. We are here to test the ends and the depths of life’s potential. We are here to make our own course. We were born with a purpose. We were born with meaning. And we all are accepting ourselves as the captains of our own lives. This is the life I was made for because this is the life I have chosen.