Congratulations

I’m a few days late, but Hanh, someone I consider a brother, just proposed to Arena, his girlfriend of 9+ years. Nowadays I’m at the age where I see an engagement announcement on Facebook like almost every other day, but something about hearing about the news from people so incredibly close to my heart compels me to write about it.

I’ve known Hanh for a little over 9 years now ever since we were wee freshmen at UCLA. Hanh has taught me a lot about life, but one of the biggest things that hit home for me is his commitment to Arena and the relationship that they share together. As an impressionable yunG stunna fresh out of highschool, I really had no idea what a lasting relationship was like beyond what I had seen in movies, and what you see in movies is generally a very fairy-tale, entertaining, and dramatized relationship. But as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7+ years passed by, I got second-hand experiences of what I feel a successful relationship should be like, and it deeply inspires me to reflect the same commitment in my own relationship.

As with any two people that grow, change, and evolve through such a defining decade together, they’ve had their own unique challenges. But by far, they’re my biggest living example of the ideal that I’m absolutely going to face challenges in my life with the person I love – what matters most is how I get through it.

Now that you’re engaged, it hits the message even further and deeper home. I am so incredibly happy for the both of you. Congratulations guys!

On Time

In between the two launches of Feel, for various reasons, I decided not to do any work for roughly two weeks.  In that time, I went to Cabo by myself for a week.  It wasn’t the Cabo Wabo drunk club beach party sunburn kinda trip. On the contrary, I was driven 45 minutes into the middle of nowhere, wedged between a desert and a beach, living in a glorified hut with WiFi and an open-face to the waves.  My host was a lovely 70-year old woman who renamed herself Elena, who’s been completely off the grid for 25+ years.  There was no running water or electricity (water was periodically restocked and stored in giant tanks, power was supplied by the sun or by gas tanks), I took shits in a (nicely decorated) outhouse – i.e. no flushing, and showered from a bucket for 2 days.  But on the bright side, I woke up to the sound of waves every morning, had almost no distraction from technology, and practically had miles of beaches to myself because I was miles away from mainstream tourism.  Needless to say, I did A LOT of thinking and reading.

I had a wake up call after my first launch.  Ever since I got back from Asia in January, my life had been fairly focused on bringing my idea to life.  In the fashion of my superhuman immigrant parents who work for hours on end, I (tried) to follow suit.  I worked my own hours on end, with the mindset that there wasn’t enough time to do everything that I needed to do, rarely proactively scheduling any sort of breaks.  I definitely feel like my life slipped out of balance – not that I completely neglected everything in my life, but I certainly didn’t apply the same focus, creativity, and determination to other people and areas that are important to me.  In retrospect, it was unhealthy and probably not sustainable.

To a degree, our culture encourages workaholism – I remember having conversations with my coworkers about how late we stayed at our office, jokingly trying to one-up each other as if it were a badge of honor (and I certainly felt like it was in a twisted way).  This is even more pronounced by the fact that my parents and the rest of the first generation immigrants worked their fucking asses off to make it in America and give us a better life.

I still have immense respect for my parents’ work ethic.  However, I am seriously questioning the correlation between hours worked and actual productivity.  For my parents’ occupations, their productivity and salary was in direct relation to their hours worked – more hours, more money. For me, it is not necessarily true that the more hours I work, the more productive I will be. How would you even define productivity in this sense?

First off, designing and developing a product is a very creatively intense task. From a macro perspective – I must make sure that I am building what people want, that I’m making the correct decisions, solving the right problems, etc. From a micro perspective – I could be stuck on a coding problem for hours on end without ample creative problem-solving energy, or I could be wasting my time on designs that suck, etc. I have always had a hunch that sometimes creativity comes to you when you give it space to incubate, when you aren’t working on it 24/7. Sometimes brute force isn’t always the best path.

Looking way beyond productivity in a pure business context, pretty much every other area of my life was relatively stagnant.  Even in a pure business context, if your body doesn’t have the vibrant health and energy it needs, your mind isn’t focused and sharp, your soul not centered, your relationships strained, there’s no way you’d be effective in said business. Not to mention, your body doesn’t have the vibrant health and energy it needs, your mind isn’t focused and sharp, your soul isn’t centered, and your relationships are strained.

To quote a passage from Arianna Huffington’s (of Huffington Post and Time 100 fame) amazingly inspirational Thrive:

Look at Steve Jobs, a man whose life, at least as the public saw it, was about creating things–things that were, yes, amazing and game changing. But when his sister, Mona Simpson, rose to honor him at his memorial service, that’s not what she focused on.

Yes, she talked about his work and his work ethic. But mostly she raised these as manifestations of his passions. ‘Steve worked at what he loved,’ she said. What really moved him was love. ‘Love was his supreme virtue,’ she said, ‘his god of gods.’

‘When [his son] Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.’

….

His sister made abundantly clear in her eulogy that Steve Jobs was a lot more than just the guy who invented the iPhone. He was a brother and a husband and a father who knew the true value of what technology can so easily distract us from. Even if you build an iconic product, one that lives on in our lives, what is foremost in the minds of the people you care about most about are the memories you built in their lives.

I was feeling curious, so I asked Quora about how people balance launching their startup with their personal life. Someone answered and scoffed “lol healthy balance”. I want to begin to challenge the notion that you have to work 200+ hours a week in order to be the next big startup, that you can’t be successful AND have a balanced lifestyle.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how to achieve this in Cabo. It’s only the beginning, but I am excited to try various things to restore balance to the things that matter to me, to structure my life and goals and plans in a way that reinforces the idea that I am wealthy in terms of my time. I am certainly not scaling back my ambitions by any means, but I have to challenge myself to be more and give more to my life than I have been. Let’s see how this goes.

Reflecting On My Career and Launching a Startup

Damn, it’s been over 3 months since I’ve written in here.  In 2010, I literally wrote something (almost) every single day for over a year, just cuz.  Priorities change I guess.  I suppose I could still say I write everyday, but now it’s Javascript, HTML, CSS, and other foreign languages that I am gradually gaining fluency in.

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“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

Late into college, I emerged from a 20-25%-life crisis, slowly realizing that I wanted to form a company that would change the world. After (maybe fortunately) doing terribly at interviews for several full-time positions/internships that were directly related to my Electrical Engineering degree, I took a chance and interviewed at a mobile app consultancy because I wanted to learn about entrepreneurship and programming.  The interview was by far the worst I felt I’ve ever had, because not only was I terrible at interviewing, but I had hardly any experience or degree to back me.  If it was a list of groceries, I literally almost didn’t bring anything to the table:

Future boss: “Do you know PHP?”
Me: “No”
Future boss: “Have you worked with Drupal or WordPress or anything?”
Me: “Well.. I have a WordPress blog..”
Future boss: “Have you done any Android or iPhone development”
Me: “No.”
+30 more questions with a similar pattern

Lo and behold, they took a chance on me as an intern. I’d like to think that after 2 years, I made a difference there, because they made a world of a difference in my life. As incredibly fucking naive and inexperienced as I was when I walked in, and as much invaluable experience as I gained (and would continue to gain) during my time there, I always knew in the back of my mind that nothing would ever prepare me for running a company other than actually starting one of my own.

So, in July, I quit. It was one of the hardest big boy decisions I’ve had to make, because I loved my job and my team, and by no means was I reaching any sort of plateau. But I knew that by definition I was not pursuing my dream of running my own company, and I knew in my heart that I had to make the leap. There are only so many business books you can read, conversations you can have, napkin sketches you can draw, half-assed false starts you can launch – eventually you need to call bullshit on yourself.

While in Asia, I decided to commit to an idea I had been throwing around in my head. After I got back in January, I started “working” on my idea.  Even then, I was still bullshitting myself. I started sketching, reading books, making mockups, going through coding tutorials, and basically wasting time. In early February, I showed Kat and my designer at my last job my mockups of the idea I had been designing, and both of them were so incredibly confused by the user experience I had put together that they got slightly angry. I had wasted weeks of precious time designing something that I couldn’t quickly build, and worse, that made people angry/confused to use.

In all honesty, I wasted time because I was still afraid. If you don’t have a frequent window into my inner thoughts, you should know that I have many doubts. I delayed working on coding my actual idea because I didn’t think I could do it.  I am still rife with doubts on the daily.

What drives me through my own sometimes-unhealthy discouragement is commitment to a promise I made to myself last May, that by Memorial Day, 20 days from now, I will have 500 people using my idea. A weird, volatile mix of determination and doubt courses through my veins, because I am determined to hit this goal despite how many doubts I have on a daily basis, how much experience I lack, etc. Over the years I have started placing the utmost importance on following through on my word, because knowing and striving to reinforce the fact that I can do anything I’m truly committed to is my sword and shield against my own doubts, challenges, rejection, potential ridicule, failure.

Since January, not a day has gone by where I’m not thinking or working on my idea. I do miss the 9-5; when you go home you can usually just chill the fuck out and forget about your job until the next day. I’ve actually started meditating/yoga/dancing every morning and evening to train my mind think of nothing, to be present, to relax. I wouldn’t say it’s working all that well yet, as it’s still hard to stop my work from pervading my thoughts when I don’t want it to, but hopefully over time I will get better.

In late February, I tricked myself into starting by staying “lean”, giving myself two weeks to build the simplest iteration of my idea that I thought I could reasonably achieve in that timeframe, and more importantly, that my friends could use. To my own fucking surprise, I met all my basic requirements in two days (although I still spent the full 2 weeks refining it before I actually launched). Crazy what you can do when you suspend your doubt and get resourceful.

In April, I received my first official rejection from an investor, or rather an accelerator. My theory is that I got a rash from the weeks of stress in preparing my application for their program. I was bummed, but whatever – fall down 7, get up 8.

A few hours ago I wrapped up my iPhone app and submitted it to the app store for approval, and I couldn’t help but repeatedly think that it wasn’t good enough. I still think my design isn’t clean enough, my app isn’t fast enough, it’s not built with the elegance of a hundred Google engineers, my prowess hasn’t been vetted by a hot name-brand tech startup that rhymes with “witter” or “oogle” or “acebook”, blah blah blah.

But again, despite all that, I would rather risk ridicule and rejection than to not meet the goal I’ve had for almost a year. There’s a saying that “if you’re not embarrassed by your launch, you didn’t launch soon enough.”  There are months of improvements I could make to my idea, decades of experience that I could gain under someone else’s wing, but there’s no better time than now.

As unprepared and clueless as I sometimes feel, looking back, I am prepared as I ever could be. From the resilience my parents taught me as I watched our family restaurant burn down because a neighboring store attempted insurance fraud,  to my dad’s 12 hour day-shifts and my mom’s 12 hour night-shifts, to spending 5 years of late nights in parking lots and leading ACA, to consecutive weeks of leaving my work during sunrise and leading projects, to designing 100 inventions and a book and 1.5 years of rejection, and all the little moments of preparation in between, I am ready.

I’ll probably never have all the technical experience I need, but my heart and soul have never been more hungry.

 

(Sorry if I’m vague about what I’m actually working on. I’m not trying to be secretive, I’m just preparing for a launch in the next 20 days and it would be redundant to try to explain it twice. With that being said, stay tuned!)

Living a Dream

I have almost been home for a month now, after a surreal 5 months of backpacking.  When people ask me about how my trip was, I pause for 3-5 seconds out of confusion, because it is an injustice to just use a single adjective.  Eventually I’ll say, “Hrmm, wow, hard to summarize,” because it really is hard to sum up 5 months that you don’t have a mental construct of.  If I were to say my last 5 months at my job were great, or my last 5 months of college were amazing, it would be relatable because the construct of a job and of school are generally understood by the people I usually talk to, even if we had varying experiences.

It’s also difficult for me to recount my trip, because I don’t feel like I’m a particulary captivating storyteller, and because I don’t really like talking about myself for an extended period of time.  The conversation of my travels usually ends up lasting 5-10 minutes on average, and then I ask about the other person’s life and what they’ve been up to because I also haven’t seen that person in at least 5 months.  It’s not really anyone’s fault, and there’s nothing inherently bad about it.  But it’s just crazy to think that if I never talked about my trip again to a particular friend, that particular friend’s understanding of my experience is an incomplete, 5-minute summary of 5 life-changing months.

In many senses, I lived a dream.  In one sense, it was a trip that I dreamt of experiencing, and it exceeded my expectations.  In another sense, it almost feels like it didn’t happen.  In the sense that I am referring to now, it’s something I experienced and can’t hope to convey through words and pictures, in the same way that it’s impossible to communicate a dream to someone else after you’ve woken up.

I now understand what people mean when they say they have “someone to share with.”  Kat is the only person in the world that could ever understand what the trip was like, because she was with me the whole time.  It’s not to say that my friends and family don’t have the empathetic capability to understand, but they just weren’t there, and I can’t convey with enough fidelity how my experiences were.  I am very grateful that I had someone to share my trip with, not just because I would have been lonely and that she is fun and compatible company, but because I have someone to bounce my reality off of and converse from a place of shared understanding.

Home Sweet Home

My circadian rhythm and I are still processing being home after a crazy 5 months abroad.  I get ridiculously tired at 7PM and 10:30PM, and I wake up at 7AM before getting up at 9AM.  In any event, I imagined my jetlag to be a lot worse, and It is REALLY great to be back home.

Although I doubt anyone was keeping track or holding us to traveling for 6 months, we were originally supposed to visit Vietnam and Cambodia for a few weeks after spending NYE in Hong Kong with Jon.  We also seriously thought about making our way to South America for a drastically different change of scenery.  As exciting as traveling and seeing different places was, after a certain point Kat and I decided that we were more excited about being home and starting the next chapter of our lives.

I am really looking forward to spending more time with my family and making an earnest effort in bonding with my parents.  One of my deepest regrets in life would be not getting to REALLY know my parents before they go.  I made a vow to myself to speak only in Cantonese with my parents, even though my mom knows English fairly well.  I’ve always been embarassed about little Chinese I know, but it is time to bear the pain of not knowing words and time to stop using a language barrier as an excuse to not open up to my parents more.

I am also really excited to hit the ground running on a startup.  Running a business is something I’ve wanted to do for a longgggg time, and now with my old job, Quirky, and traveling out of the way, I feel ready to crack down and start sprinting.

It would be a feat for both the writer and reader to capture 5 months of reflection in a single post, so I will reflect more in other posts and just end by listing out what’s fucking great about being home:

  1. Not having to filter water before drinking or brushing my teeth
  2. Not having to carry 35lbs of stuff, and constantly un/pack
  3. Wearing jeans, not wearing gladiator sandals, and having a wardrobe
  4. Stability, personal space, privacy
  5. An endless supply of the greatest cuisine in the world – my dad’s food
  6. Being able to talk to friends and family in person
  7. Consistently fast internet
  8. Not having enforced power outages
  9. Not being yelled at to look inside a store when walking down the sidewalk
  10. Consistently hot showers
  11. Using toilets that don’t require buckets for flushing
  12. No mosquitoes, and more importantly, no relative fear of catching malaria or other scary airborne diseases
  13. Using my phone to call people again
  14. Not being paranoid about pickpocketing and not having to tether my wallet and camera to my pants
  15. Not being paranoid about having my room broken into and not having to carry everything on me just to go on a walk
  16. Being in a place where I feel I identify with
  17. Not having to figure out where to sleep
  18. Having a clear division between where people walk, and where automobiles drive
  19. Being able to work on a desk
  20. Trusting that the price I am paying is the price everyone else is paying
  21. Driving myself to get somewhere
  22. Using Google Maps
  23. 4G internet on my phone and not having to buy food to use WiFi

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely cherish all the great and not-so-great moments of traveling.  There are many things that I already miss, and others that will intensify much more in the coming weeks that will make me question my decision to come home.  The decision to backpack around Asia for 5 months with someone I love will resonate throughout my life for many years to come.  There is no way to share the sensory overload, the experiences, the lessons, the perspective I gained.

One of my favorite quotes: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

All that being said, I can’t believe it’s over, am grateful that I’m alive, sad that it’s over, and really excited to start anew.  Also, there is no place like home.

26

26 – another great year in my life to look forward to, another great year to look back on.  Never thought I’d be in India again to celebrate another birthday.  When I was a kid, I always thought that I would feel a lot older and mature in my mid-twenties than I feel now.  I guess in a sense though, these few years mark the transition from boyhood to manhood, as the societal clock ticks closer to serious financial, geographical, marital, career-minded decisions.

I am certainly not complaining about being in India, but one thing I will never find here is the security and comfort of the people I love back at home.  I am lucky to spend this day and many others with the love of my life, but sad that I can’t physically celebrate another year in my life with my friends and family.

Nonetheless, life is great.  This past year was monumental, and I am very proud of everything I was able to do and feel.  In no particular order:

I quit an amazing job at ISBX – probably one of the bigger big-boy decisions I’ve had to make thus far (in conjunction with deciding to move out of LA, moving home, and leaving America, since all those things unfolded in the span of 2 weeks).  I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish there.  There were many, many sunrises spent in the office to meet crazy deadlines, and a lot of self-doubt in my performance.  In hindsight, while I may not be the most genius of developers or agile enough as a project manager, I was able to pull off some amazing things and lead a great team of people.  I absolutely loved working with my team and looked forward to going to work to balance fucking around with getting a lot of shit done.  If not for the specific skills I gained, I gracefully walked away with the confidence in knowing that I made an impact there and that I can make an even bigger impact on society.

I left LA and all of the people that tether me to security.  While it is certainly not goodbye for the people that are closest to my heart, it’s crazy to leave 8 years of my life behind for another chapter.  I vividly remember driving away from my apartment with all of my belongings, wondering if I was making the right decision.  It is sad to think that I won’t be able to randomly drive after work to visit ACA practices, or kickback and act stupid with my best friends in my living room.

I moved back in with my family, and I started calling my parents almost everyday while I was still in LA.  In college, I used to be a bit more ungrateful for everything my parents do for me, barely calling home and not picking up when they called.  It makes me feel very ashamed to look back at those days, but at least I can say now that I am making more of an effort to show my love and appreciation.  I am really excited to move back home after traveling, specifically to spend time with my family, cook with my dad, teach my mom yoga, hang out with my sis and cousins more regularly.

I worked out 3 times a week for almost a year, without exception.  There were spurts of times in my life where I tried to work out consistently, but I didn’t really have enough of a driving motivation beyond improving my appearance.  Something switched this past year, when I decided to take myself and my promises more seriously, and the thought of breaking a workout streak was more painful than enduring a short workout.  I actually broke my streak the day I was packing up and moving out of my apartment.

I finished off my last two classes at UCLA, a GE that I incorrectly thought I had fulfilled, and Chem 30AL (organic chemistry). After my 5th year I kinda got over school and just decided to work for a while, with the intention of recharging and eventually finishing.  It is definitely not easy working fulltime and driving through traffic to campus multiple times a day, so props to people who work their way through college.

I left America – I’ve been traveling since the end of July.  Kat and I spent a month in Bali, a month in Thailand, and almost two months now in India.  There is no combination of media that could ever capture everything I’ve experienced, but some highlights:

  • Bali
    • Being bombarded and scared by all the taxi drivers at the airport
    • Staying and meditating on an ashram, meeting amazing people
    • Going scuba diving for Kat’s birthday
    • Eating bread, shrimp chips, and ramen for a few days because our ATM card wasn’t working.
  • Trekking up a fucking mountain at 3AM to see a breathtaking sunrise.
  • Thailand
    • Drinking with Tommy on the beach in Phuket and losing my glasses
    • Getting open water diving certified in Koh Tao, being fucking amazed by schools of fish and a whale shark
    • FOOD IN CHIANG MAI.  Getting a combination of all you can eat Korean BBQ and Shabu Shabu for $4 in Chiang Mai.  Fried street food.  Drinking ‘buckets’ and wishing we could be cool as the hipster Thai college students next to us.
    • Talking during a “silent” one day meditation retreat with a Buddhist monk.
    • Our frustrations with the Indian Consulate and finally getting visas for India the day before our flight.
  • India
    • Arriving in Kolkata at 3AM, driving through empty streets past homelessness and herds of goats.
    • Walking along the Ganga in Varanasi and seeing all the ceremonies, cremations, families traveling from all over to bathe in the river.  Walking through alleyways, playing local games, being offered opium and to buy my camera off me.  Volunteering at a slum school with some of the most enthusiastically inquisitive kids I’ve ever met.
    • Getting certified to teach yoga in Rishikesh.  Sitting and taking in a relaxing view of the Ganga.  Building a website for our yoga school.
    • At least for us, India has shown us the most hospitality by far.  We met the most incredibly kind people on our way from place to place.  A passenger in our taxi to the Kolkata train station paid for our fare, and led us through the crowded and confusing station to our train.  One of our friends at our guest house in Varanasi showed us around everywhere.  We met a man on our train to Rishikesh, who, at 5AM, let us ride along in his car for 40 minutes from the train station to our destination.

I started dancing again.  I always felt a little sad when people asked me if I was still dancing.  I figured I have all the time in the world to freestyle in my room for a few minutes, and that there’s no better distraction-free time to start that habit than now.

I created 100 invention ideas, submitted them to Quirky, and mailed them a book.  A week after my birthday, I found out that one of my ideas was chosen for development.  This deserves its own post (among other items in this blog) because it’s so huge for me, so I will stop here.

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In general, I am just really excited for life and what will be another great year.

  • A major goal is to have 500 users by Memorial Day 2014 on my web/mobile app that is yet to be brainstormed and built.  I have been gearing up for entrepreneurship for years now, and now is finally the time to make it happen.
  • In a few days, I’ll be doing a 10 day silent meditation (no music, electronics, writing, talking, exercise, contact with the opposite sex, etc.)
  • Kat and I still have a few months left of traveling left, tentatively Nepal next, Hong Kong for NYE with Jon, and maybe more of Southeast Asia (OR BRAZIL OR MOROCCO?)
  • Quirky will hopefully have my product on shelves before I turn 27, and I will finally have turned a creative thought into a tangible reality that other people can use.
  • I get to move home and get a lot closer to my family.

Life is awesome!  A little late, but thanks for all the love on my birthday and this past year.  I am grateful and humbled to look back on an accomplished year, and excited to live out another one.

Routines

I finally started on a morning/daily routine that I’ve been able to commit to for 2-3 weeks now.  I have been trying to commit on/off (mostly off) to one since 2010, but it’s a little bit easier now that I don’t have as many scheduling obligations that would require me to be somewhere at a certain time.

It consists of:

Meditating (7-15 minutes)
After learning a little bit more about meditating from people who have done it almost everyday for years, I decided to get a little more serious about incorporating it into my daily life. At least right now, I am trying to just let myself go wild. A lot of times I try to stop thinking and just observe my emotions. There have been quite a few meditations where I felt an emotion (anxiety, sadness, love, happiness, anger, etc) to the point where I was shaking, gritting my teeth, smiling, etc. It is scary but therapeutic, and I am trying to learn to just let myself feel those things.

Another thing I’ve been trying in the past few days is to try to count my breaths without forgetting my place. I feel like this will build my focus and concentration in other areas of my life as I get better it. It’s only my 3rd or 4th time, but I feel really drained afterwards and usually need like a 3 minute nap.

Stretching (15-20 minutes)
I just use the stretching routines from my ACA days. There is at least a decade of bad posture in my upper back/neck/shoulder blade area, and I am trying to stretch the shit out of it.

Freestyling (3-5 songs, for however long I’m in the zone of a particular song)
After ACA, a lot of people asked me if I still kept up with dancing. I would sadly reply “no… I’ve been [   ]”. Being busy was the go-to answer, and I remember consciously deciding not to dance as much because I had other priorities in my life.

In 8th grade, my sister’s raver-esque friend showed me the arm wave. I downloaded as many videos as I could in the pre-Youtube days (Liquid Pop Collective, anyone?) and retrospectively was really lame dancing in my room and at school dances. From there, I kept sucking and auditioned for my high school dance team during the end of my junior year. I made it onto the team during my senior year, and I experienced confidence and humiliation like nothing I’ve ever felt. Doing jazz leaps across the floor is not something I’d ever wish upon anyone, but it was in those steps I learned about humiliation and humility. From there, I latched onto my confidence in movement, and spread it to confidence in my appearance, my social skills, my personality, my status, blah blah blah. The pinnacle of my K-12 days was performing solo in front of my entire school, shaking to applause, realizing I was no longer a shy asian kid.

One of my 200-word UC application essays was an exaggerated piece about my love for dancing, and likely increased my odds of getting into UCLA. There, I found ACA, two parking lots, many stages, lifelong friends, role models, leadership, passion, competition, unconditional love, family, forgotten nights, unforgettable memories.

Looking back at the last decade of my life, my biggest catalysts (aside from my family, friends, girlfriend, and heartbreaks) have been dancing and writing. No classroom or curriculum has shown me more about myself than those two art forms. Why I decided to cut out dance from my life for the past two years remains a mystery. I don’t regret the choice, but I am sad I left it behind. During the past 2 – 3 years, I kept comparing my dwindling sharpness in dance to others. The comparisons interrupted my creativity every time I watched myself freestyle in the mirror. I was (and still am) insecure about not being as good as others who practice much more frequently than I do. Eventually, my schedule and insecurities knocked dance far from the top of my priorities, and I almost stopped altogether.

When I dance now, I try to forget about everything else and watch my reactions to melodies. I’m trying to explore and create for myself, to lose myself and let go and embrace my own style and who I am. We’ll see where it takes me and what I learn, but it feels good to reconnect with that part of myself again.

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Some recent routines by Shaun that I love.