Curiosity killed the cat.
Who are we and what will we do with the rest of our lives?
The beginning of 2014 is a very retrospective time for me.
I’m studying for the GRE and the GMAT, and I’ve been on a new momentum propelling me forward from the inside.
This year, I decided I was going to try.
Not just go fast, but really focus on going forward.
So part of this (besides the regular exercise and selective focus) is writing. I used to write all the time, every night before going to bed, but somewhere along the road I had stopped. Somewhere along the road, I stopped listening to myself.
Now I’ve discovered Marquee, this easy-to-use platform meant for expressive writing, thanks to my friend Traci. She was one of the first people to start using this platform, and is an excellent writer. We’ve decided to write together and encourage each other to continue. Feel free to read her wonderful stories at: http://seetraciwrite.com/
View from Ink48
New York, New York
The past month and a half have not been easy. Within only three weeks time I had achieved every milestone of the move-to-New-York process faster than I could ever have imagined, none of which would have been possible without the generous support of amazing friends.
I woke up at 4:30am on my first day in New York City, to join a 5:00am run in Prospect Park with the Brooklyn Early Morning Runners Meetup Group lead by Kuma. Police patrol, hills, dogs, bikers, other runners… we the full 3.2 miles around the park with a few breaks in between. The air was fresh, and the park was so safe. I loved every bit of it, chatting with Kuma about my relocation to New York and his offering to send me some job opportunities in the public sector (which he did!). I felt I was off to a great start with New York.
The following week, I arrange a number of meetups to catch up with friends and explore more parts of the city. I followed mailing lists for interesting events and attended a few the following week. At the same time, I was frantically looking for housing (which fully consumed my second week) so that I could stop couchsurfing in the comfortable guestroom of my friend’s gorgeous gutted brownstone home in Clinton Hill.
There were ups and downs. I was very lucky to find a friend (from my Minnesotan highschool!) to live with! We spent endless trips visiting homes that we felt dissatisfied with in Bushwick, Crowne Heights and Lefferts Gardens. We found a place for a deal in Williamsburg. It doesn’t have a sink in the bathroom. It’s charming as hell. I slept on the floor the first night of our new house and caught a cold. I got a bed the next day and cooked our first meal from these amazing pots passed down from generous Craigslist donors. We didn’t have a key that worked until the third day. I didn’t sleep for my first week because my neighbors were too busy making noisy love – both upstairs and next door. I ran into a friend from Beijing. I received a bill with hidden charges from Time Warner Cable but realized that if I called customer service they would put me on mute again like they did last time I called to try and halt the installation of a bill I did not want to confirm. (I hate Time Warner Cable more than I find BNP Paribas incompetent.) I befriended our previous tenant and she’s really cool! I went all the way to Washington Heights to pick up a craigslisted furniture item. I ran into a friend from Paris. I met my bestie. I rode the train the wrong way twice in a row and barely made Mid-Autumn Festival dinner. But I learned my lessons quickly…and made a website for a NGO helping North Korean orphanages, met Lauren Bush Lauren and Sharon Bush at the WIE Symposium where I volunteered last minute, went to Maker Faire, Got invited to PetchaKucha by the founders of RockPaperRobot who I met at Maker Faire, and confirmed two great work opportunities this week (one as social media intern with New Americans Leaders Project and another as a part-time event producer/social media specialist with Kinney Group Creative who put together the WIE Symposium). On the side, I’m still learning every day – preparing for a couple of exams, and learning to code as well as getting certified in Google Analytics (this website is now equipped!). I killed three mosquitos in the past 24 hours. I did it all in one breath.
So yesterday, while I was running across the Williamsburg bridge listening to “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus (of course), I burst into tears.
Why was I running so hard? Where was I going? Why was I so far away when I could be at home in the wonderful city of San Francisco? What was I chasing? And why can’t we stop?
I am young and I am in freakin’ New York. That’s why. This is no small town.
This is the time to be resilient, to seek a current to swim against and come out stronger so that we can make the final stretch later.
I need to carve myself into who I want to be.
I had a great conversation with a really wonderful girl friend of mine who was back in China. We share the same birthday.
We were catching up, and I was telling her about my transition back because she might do it too. Many of us are still thinking about it. And she made a great point: ”It’s really hard to leave a good job here to go back and do internships. It’s not the transition I was envisioning.”
We talked about this and realized…this is it. We’re all afraid of this. Leaving China where we were stars, with a trek back that is not as glamorous. But we also don’t want to stay. We’re afraid to let fate decide where we should be. So we decide to come back. It’s a decision. It’s like waking up from a wonderful dream in a soft comfortable bed (with a lot of smog and struggle). It’s conscious.
And when we make this decision, we anticipate starting over. No matter how social, how capable or how intelligent we are we understand we might have to start from the bottom, but do so with courage because we know we belong at the top. And just because no one hires you doesn’t mean you aren’t worth anything. We all have (incredible) experience that needs to be translated. It’s a test we all go through in New York, and those who have the vision to give us a chance will never regret it.
Finally, I have this amazing “little sister” who’s still in high school. She’s the most amazing young woman I’ve ever met and yet still not full of herself. I love her to death and I told her what I wish someone (who I’d listen to) had told me when I had been in high school:
Don’t let anyone tell you “you’ll have plenty of time” because you will just have enough.
So don’t waste it.
And be passionate.
Work hard and think hard, because only with practice will we be who we are today.
P.S. Britney did a great job with her video. My sentiments exactly. #Dope
Recently, Sheryl Sandberg visited Beijing, China to launch her book “Lean In” in Chinese. Before her visit however, I witnessed first-hand the group of young women (and a few young men too) who took charge of her movement to launch the first Lean In Circle in China.
From intense WeChat group discussions on planning a website, a survey and a successful launch event… the group now actively shares interesting links via Google Plus. The ladies seriously tackle the issues surrounding the internal and external hurdles young women face in all aspects of their career and life.
In August, the group started coordinating with Sheryl Sandberg who responded to an email they wrote and was invited to one of her two events in Beijing during her short stop. In September, they were able to meet her in person!
I can’t wait to see what happens next. Check it out:
Featured on New York Times, Sept 18, 2013 :
Featured on Business Week, Sept 20, 2013:
Thank you to everyone for coming out to my send off party!
Thank you to Kate Smith and Sophie Smith as well as the Nine Gates Polyphony (Piano by Alan David Lee) for singing Belle Nuit D’Amour by Offenbach (video) on this lovely night, to celebrate the moment together. Thank you to Aaron Berkovich for taking the photos!
With such horrible Friday traffic and heavy rain, I never expected such a great turn out. We took over the entire restaurant at The Pavillion Grille in Beijing, which had just gone under a beautiful renovation depicted here at Kristen’s wonderful blog Lumdimsum. We also celebrated Mariel’s birthday and migrated over to Gulou area to say goodbye to Shuchao and celebrate Mariel’s birthday at our favorite hutong bar Mai Bar.
Everyone keeps asking me, “are you leaving for good?”
I can’t say. I will be in San Francisco, San Jose, Nevada and New York in the coming few weeks. It’s been a long while since I lived outside of China, and would love to experience life back in the US. I want to take a moment to figure out where I want to live, and where I should go next, and where I truly belong. I want to see what the world is missing, and where I can fill in! And finally, I really look forward to getting some stellar internet connection in the US to record all of this activity.
I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
What an evening! Champagne, multi-course dinner, keynote speaches, aerial acrobats, charity date auction and raffle prizes raising over 30,000 RMB for the charity partner APSA (Americans Promoting Study Abroad) in support of their US-China student exchange programs, 450 attendees from over 80 universities…what a spectacular night!
–Women & Marriage –
We discussed the topic of Joy’s book Do Not Marry Before Age 30, and our different perspectives as the chef spoiled us through the kitchen window.
“the luxury of being yourself”
(I’m sure the Wisconsin badgers are prepared: www.badgerbadgerbadge
Check out my on-the-ground view of China’s social networking scene on Lou Hoffman’s blog Ishmaels Corner!
Mashable recently published an article I wrote about 5 Chinese Social Networks You Need to Watch
Here is the article: http://mashable.com/2012/07/02/china-social-networks/
Much thanks to Lou Hoffman for his guidance and recommendation for my work!
My supervisor Tom McHale also gave me invaluable writing advice, and our China general manager Dong Chen shared insightful knowledge on how China social media evolved over time.
Hope you enjoy the article!