2019 – a rollercoaster year

let’s start with the highlights chronologically, and then we’ll dive deeper into some topics.

  • Jan – Lei Out tournament with BU alumni; began strict exercise and diet plan in prep for EDC
  • Feb – assistant coach for UW Women’s B team; started couples therapy with Fan
  • Mar – visited Vikram in Austin, TX; visited Tracy in San Francisco, CA; started new hobby of climbing
  • Apr – visited my sister in New York City
  • May – attended EDC with a massive crew; failed tryouts for club ultimate
  • Jun – attended Laya & Saulo’s wedding in Charlotte; visited Boston; joined the “century club” of Harvard Stairs
  • Jul – KG visited; played in Sunbreak ultimate tourney; Boston friends visited
  • Aug – vacation in Vietnam & China; second wedding in Fan’s hometown of Guangzhuo
  • Sep – got a difficult promotion at work to Senior Engineer; attended EZoo; attended 4th ANAL Conference
  • Oct – Fan passed green card interview; Bon Iver concert in Boston
  • Nov – GAIA ultimate frisbee tournament in Japan w/ Jet Lag Squad; undefeated regular league season with Mystery Machine
  • Dec – started new role at Microsoft; purchased a house in Redmond

Every year, I make new year resolutions/goals like other people do. As a point of pride though, I manage to achieve most of my goals. Important goals for me were:

  • Max 401k, IRAs, and HSA. Being financially stable and safe is important. I am very fortunate to be able to live a very good life while still saving for retirement.
  • Read 1 book a month. With the help of Libby, I managed to listen to a bunch of audiobooks – 18 total for the year.
  • Get promotion at work. For those familiar with Microsoft compensation levels, I am doing well with a promo every 2 years. I started at L59 and am now at L63. It’s going to be much harder from here on out though.
  • Get ripped by EDC. I started the year at 170 pounds and managed to drop to 155 pounds for EDC. I learned a lot about exercise and diet, and developed more discipline.

Some reflections:

  • Don’t accept a shitty reality. When I was feeling fat, I did research – made a plan – and executed. When I no longer enjoyed my current job, I did research – made a plan – and executed. It is surprising to me when people complain about their situations and 6 months later, nothing has changed. You’re responsible for your own life and happiness.
  • Failures can be blessings in disguise. For most of my life, I avoided failure and rejection. Not making an ultimate club team in Seattle 2 summers in a row got me down, but then I came to realize the free time that was given back to me. I started a new hobby of climbing and felt healthier than ever (it’s less impact on my back). Whenever you look back at failures, you’ll see that usually they are inflection points in your life before good change happens.
  • Invest in emotional growth. Fan and I had a major fight early in the year – it was so bad that divorce was on the table. Luckily, I talked to the older colleagues at work and got a bunch of good advice. I found out that Microsoft offers free therapy sessions so we started couples therapy. We unraveled some of the deep fears and issues that manifested as bad behavior and habits. I am continuing therapy because the work is not done. I talk openly about therapy because I’d like to end the stigma. You go to a physical therapist when your body is injured. Why can’t you go to an emotional therapist when your mind is injured?
  • Recognize your role in society. As a member of society on the cusp of starting a family, I realized the opportunity that lays before me: I can stop centuries of bad culture and history from perpetuating. My upbringing by traditional parents who suffered through war and economic instability produced a boy with a lot of emotional baggage. Some concrete examples:
    • I don’t understand lightheartedness in a romantic context well. If a fight occurs, it is difficult for me to pause and inject some humor into a situation to defuse it. Learning to de-escalate is crucial in relationships.
    • I do not treat my wife as an equal. My parents are always telling me to basically “control my woman” and maintain the patriarchy. I did this underhandedly by controlling her via economic means (I make more money so she has to listen to me), via legal means (I am her bridge to permanent residency in America), and via emotional means (I pressure her to join my social networks instead of making efforts to connect with hers). The harsh truth I had to accept was that even as I championed for equality across all genders and races, I struggled to implement it at home. But now that acceptance has happened, I can move forward to a better future.
  • Enjoy the journey, not the destination. This is cliche as hell but it is so true. As a first-generation immigrant, you’re taught to grind nonstop until you reach the destination. Sure, it’s useful for achieving goals – but the only thing that awaits you at the end is more goals. When you achieve a goal, celebrate it! Bask in the glory for a second instead of immediately pondering what the next goal is. Think carefully when choosing between work and missing out on an event because work will always be there.

This post is getting long so I’ll stop here. Comment if you want me to elaborate on anything.

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