When nothing was the same

That six years post yesterday has made me think about a lot about my relationship with time. I’ve heard people describe the way they’ve evolved throughout their life as: “I have a deep core of me. I might change a lot on the surface, but the light of my truest self appears in the shadows.” I was trying to think about the events that have impacted my life the most and I think that maybe I am the opposite way.

I think maybe I’m just a soft fleshy shell-human—cold, hollow, and awkward—and it’s the flavors and spirit of all the people I’ve met that my friends really like about me. I’m just the vessel for the best experiences that have been shared with me. Like, I’m just a user researcher: I observe patterns and ask good questions so that you feel like you like me, but you really like what it reflects back to you.

I mean, maybe. This is just some thoughts I had because I realized it wasn’t really events that have influenced me the most, but people I have met. That screenshot at the beginning is from the ever-articulate Matt during one of our conversations when I first moved here. It really captures this emotion that’s created when we compare our lives to the stories we see in the movies. Upon recent reflection, however, I see that I’m fortunate enough for me to have already met a handful of these people.

With probably some further ados scattered throughout, here are some of the things I thought have had the biggest impact on my life:


1/ Reading the first book I liked, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM. 

Since I wrote a post talking about this, I won’t repeat myself. But the tl;dr is that I hated reading, then realized that reading could be fun, became an avid reader, English major, and now a person filled with guilt for not making the time to read more.

2/ Meeting Carissa in middle school (I am good friends with two Carissas, this is the first one I met).

Throughout middle school, I had been surrounded by very normal and typical people. I felt like I was always learning from my best friend was normal to do, eat, play with, and be interested in. They were activities and opinions I wasn’t aware of. She was living the life I saw on TV shows and could have been a secondary character in Full House. This was very different from my own experience as a first generation Vietnamese kid.

Carissa, though, wasn’t not interested in the normal, average, and mundane.  She was the first person I met that fully embraced (preferred!) the eccentric and that liked my humor. I felt like I could be more of myself around her and I think I would be a more normal person if I hadn’t met her.


Carissa is on the left, girl smiling at the camera with big hoop earrings and a stud choker. Didn’t we just look like a group of ruffians? Let me assure you that I was still the nerd you know today because Carissa wanted her friends to be themselves.

3/ Evan. As a friend, artist, person, and the other half of dates.

Evan is a really remarkable person who I still very much respect even though we don’t talk anymore. I am fully convinced that all the parts of me that are cool were learned from him. Music, an appreciation of art, adventurousness, and open-mindedness were all gently folded into my own traits during the 4.5 years we dated. He has this natural curiosity that makes him discover and learn fascinating things. He is extremely humble and I don’t feel like I’ve met anyone since who lives with such quiet confidence. On the other half of things, he was also extremely bold, creative, and hardworking.

Evan, the artist.

4/ English majoring.

It’s probably not really fair for me to bundle this up into one point, but gosh darn it!—it’s a whole decision that absolute affected my present. I was an business major when I entered college. And when I compared how much I hated my business 101 class and how much I looked forward to my English elective, I realized I couldn’t swim upstream for four years and gave in to the warm embrace of the English department. I would have moments of self-aware thankfulness for getting to be in class with my brilliant professors and I know that studying English really taught me how think and observe and learn more than what we were learning at the time. I’m so thankful for that experience.

6 of the 20 College of Arts & Sciences Top Graduates were English majors. We’re kind of a big deal.

— Oh goodness, I’m realize how many more things I could add to this list and it’s already a ridiculously long post. What to do, what to do?!–

5/ Graduating and moving to Denver.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but you change a lot the first year after you graduate where you have to shift through your unstructured time and decide what your hobbies are. But I also chose to do it in a place where I didn’t know a soul. It was rough, but I learned a lot about how I actually wanted to spend my time. Like, I realized I was dragging myself to do a lot of things I didn’t want to do. Like weekly work parties that were objectively cool, but not particularly fun to me. It was important for me to realize that I would rather go to something alone than go to something even amazingly cool with someone who I don’t get a long with. I am not a perfect student of this lesson, as I have moved to another new place and pine for the undergrad days of spontaneously hanging out with a group of friends, but I feel like I am better and better for it.

I have to stop here because it’s 1am and I need to work in a few hours. But there is so much more I could say…about minoring in graphic design under the tutelage of the extremely passionate Jenny Venn; about meeting Katie and becoming a more open person (and having the first friend in years not tied to Evan at all, giving me the space to end the relationship); meeting the other Carissa, the reason I am not a legitimately terrible person everyday; my trip to New York with Igor that renewed our friendship and gave me a flavor of the city I would later move to; and the lectures from my thesis advisor in grad school, who opened me up to another remarkable facet of design.

And, you know, maybe this moving San Francisco and working is a thing that’s happen. Only time will tell.

Photo from my friend, Alex Stern, as we walked up Twin Peaks. 

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