Stuff happened in 2014.
So. Much. Stuff.
When I think about growing up and taking on responsibilities and such, I think this is the year that I really threw myself into the ocean of adulthood and taught myself how to swim. It wasn’t easy. I’m fairly sure that I cried more this year than I ever have in my recent past and was almost continuously sick because of stress. Nevertheless, 2014 is a year that I will look back on fondly in the future. These were the highlights of my year.
Meeting someone special who taught me how to cherish and care for someone else other than myself. Being in a relationship (any kind, actually), teaches you a lot about yourself and about other people in general. Without realizing it, I had gradually been shutting out people ever since starting grad school; I’m glad this year I learned how to (re)connect with old and new friends alike.
Graduating with my master’s degree. The PhD deal didn’t work out, but I am a much, much happier person now that I’ve left. It took a lot of soul searching but I realized that the unhappiness and lack of success I was having in grad school had a lot to do with realizing that I just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be an academic scientist; I wanted to do science outreach. So I left.
Finding a post-grad job. I started working an uninspiring freelance (read: temp) job as a grant writer at Stanford. Heck, it paid well and I made a lot of connections with various program administrators, so it wasn’t a bad deal at all! Besides, it gave me the flexibility to work on something even more awesome.
Becoming the co-founder of a startup. I was sort of scouted out by the CEO of an early-stage health startup company that was doing exactly what I envisioned myself doing in a science “outreach” type role. All of a sudden, I was thrust into the world of startups and business and money and aaaghhh it was all very overwhelming but super exciting. We launched our alpha product in October and graduated from an accelerator program in November and are moving onward. I’ve learned so much and connected with so many talented individuals since I joined the Truthly team.
Finding an apartment. The housing situation in Silicon Valley is C-R-A-Z-Y and given my limited credit history and meager salary, I was very worried that I wouldn’t find a place to live after moving out of graduate housing. But after many months of searching, I did!
Reconnecting with Korean. There was a period of time in 2013 during which, for complicated reasons, I dropped all language learning from my life, including Korean. When I booked my tickets to Seoul this year, I felt a resurgence of the old passion I had for the language. I started writing and reading Korean again and actually finished my first novel! Unfortunately, 2014 is also the year I bid farewell to Korean dramas for good – I didn’t finish a single one this year.
Traveling to Seoul. Seoul!! For the first time since I started learning Korean, I was finally able to spend some time in Korea. I’ve promised to write about the trip and I will (I have many half-completed drafts pending), but in a sentence, it was everything I could have imagined it to be. The best part of the trip for me was simply being able to effortlessly immerse myself in the language and culture.
Meeting Jeannie. Jeannie and I have been great friends for five years or so. She’s originally from the Philippines but permanently immigrated to South Korea around the time we first met. At first we bonded over learning Korean; over the years, we’ve talked about pretty much everything under the sun. Everything from religion, history, and social issues to dramas, music, and skincare. Getting to finally meet her in person and go book shopping was definitely the highlight of my trip to Korea.
The year 2014 was all about monumental changes. It’s like all the energy that had drained from me at the start of grad school in 2011 and through 2013, suddenly came flooding back. That put the reins back into my hands and I was finally able to control where I was going.
As for 2015? This year will be about balance. My mind and body haven’t completely adjusted to the changes I’ve made and now is the time to take deeper breaths, introspect, and welcome balance back into my life.