A Full Year of Blogging

Oh. My. God.

It has been one year of blogging. I have written a daily blog post 365 times.

Whether you started reading my posts from day one, or this is your first time reading my writing, I thank you for being a part of my journey. It’s been a wild year.

I’ve always considered myself an open book, and if after reading this post you don’t agree, let me know. At the top of my blog, I have the subtitle “Unfiltered Thoughts”, and that’s because I like to speak my mind without filtering out the good (or the bad). I like to share my thoughts in the most genuine way possible.

And so I’d like to pour my heart out and talk about my life so far. So let’s start back from last year, but not exactly 365 days. I want to go back to the summer of 2017, the summer right before I went to Villanova to start the University life.

Summer 2017: Despair

This was perhaps the most difficult months of my life. I had just graduated from high school with slightly broken relationships. Not to mention I had this overwhelming fear of not knowing what the hell I’d be doing after high school, especially since I’d be traveling all the way to the East coast, and to America.

And then my body decided to just break down. I was essentially bedridden for that entire summer. I visited three different specialist doctors all who gave me not much hope. It was the usual case. I have this autoimmune disease that likes to act up at sporadic moments in my life and this was the worst it had ever been. Depression hit me and most of my days were a blur. I had never felt more lonely than that summer. Did I mention that I had to cancel my Japan & China trip, which was meant to be my high school graduation gift? It was also supposed to be a little getaway for me and my sister. Instead, she went without me and I had to stay because I just needed to survive.  And that’s what I did that summer, day to day, surviving.

It was at this point that I seriously contemplated taking a leave of absence and never going to Philadelphia/Villanova to start University. I felt like maybe I needed to seriously pause at life and figure out all I had going on. But the final weeks before summer ended, I got just good enough to get out of my bed. And even though I still felt terrible, I wanted to get on that plane. I wanted to start this new part of my life. Maybe leaving home was better for my depression and better for my health overall. Healing needs to be done not where you were hurt.

Fall 2017: Villanova

Me and some random kid

The toughest months of my life was followed then by the happiest last few months of 2017.

Everything was going well for me at Villanova.

My grades were good. My health got better. I met my best friend at university. I had great professors. I started playing basketball again once my health got better, and I started performing magic again and it was leading to many great interactions and opportunities.

I brought all my experiences in my first semester of university back home. I shared it with my close friends from home. I shared it with my high school where I did two Ted-style talks (while using magic as my metaphor).

The first 3 quarters of 2017 was the longest 9 months of my life, which was followed by a great time at Villanova that I believe shaped who I am today.

Spring 2018: Singapore (and all of Southeast Asia)

Singapore

As if flying 5000 KM from Vancouver to Villanova wasn’t far enough, I decided to spend an entire semester abroad in Singapore for my second semester (13,000 KM away).

Singapore was full of big highs and low lows. I never felt more homesick in my life. But at the same time, I was experiencing life as an adult.

A whole list of first experiences occurred in Singapore. Everything was new to me. Cars were on the other side of the road, I spoke English and Chinese in day-to-day interactions, and I also had my first full-time job working at a blockchain company “R3”. On the weekends I found time to travel… A lot. Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia…I went to clubs and danced a lot. I went to my first rooftop bar on top of the most beautiful building in the world (Marina Bay Sands, which is essentially a giant ship on top of three skyscrapers. Pictured below). I did boxing and Muay Thai. And I grew up.

Summer 2018: Shanghai 

There is nothing like reconnecting with old friends after branching out and living an independent life. I brought stories back home to my family and friends, and my friends and family reminded me how important this feeling of community and home was to me. But after a month back home, I again hopped on the plane and spent 7 weeks in Shanghai where I studied Chinese economy and worked at a marketing research firm. At the end of the trip, I went across all of China.

Great Wall of China

I went to Beijing to see my biological father.

He took me to Gui Zhou, his hometown village where he grew up, and I met my grandparents on my father’s side for the first time. And yes, I have extremely awkward photos to prove it.

Spot the foreigner

We went to Chong Qing, home of the best spicy hot pot in China.

We then went to Zheng Zhou where I reconnected with my cousins after ~5 years.

And I also lost my passport. So for one day, I was immensely stressed. If I hadn’t found it, I wouldn’t be able to travel and would have to be detained in China (as my Visa expires), and missed my $2000 flight back home. I’d also end up missing my LA trip that my sister and I planned months in advance (more $$$) and I’d probably miss the first few days of classes back at Villanova.

I seriously cannot convey how bad that day should have been for me. But. I put it aside.

My two cousins

I seriously learned that day how to push past things that I have no control in. I hadn’t seen my cousins in so long, I didn’t want that burden dragging me down. So I had a good day. I shopped with them and had a great dinner. And at dinner, the airline finally called us back and told us they found my passport on their plane.

At that moment I believed in God.

I finished my amazing summer with even more travel.

My sister and I went to LA as a remake of our initial travel plans that went bust last summer. We saw Crazy Rich Asians in the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd, we went to Universal and saw Harry Potter World and all the amazing Hollywood studios and sets of some of the most classic movies, and we ate. A lot.

Image may contain: Jeff Allen Wang and Winnie Liu, people smiling, table and outdoor
Me and my sister in LA

Fall 2018: Confusion

Back to Villanova.

I’ll be honest, this semester didn’t start off as well as I’d hoped. Well, maybe because I was comparing it to my Singapore semester and how much fun that was.

It felt a bit odd to be back on campus after so much traveling.

But October has been a rocky month for me. If you’ve read some of my recent writing for this month, you might have caught a hint of… emotional wreckage? And that’s because I’ve recently been questioning life in general.

Right now I’m a little confused about everything. What career do I want? What type of life do I want to live? Where do I want to be? Who do I want to spend my time with? What the hell are all these emotions? What is love?

I’m happy. I am.

But I also feel sad a lot. And I feel lonely. And I feel lost.

There is this giant void that I don’t understand. And, during mid-terms break, I tried to fill that void by going on a date.

And honestly, the date went really well, because, well I accidentally met the perfect girl. It was my first ever romantic-style date. But either the timing wasn’t right, or the place was wrong, or the spark didn’t spark, but nothing came to fruition. Anyways, this person was perfect, but not perfect for me, and I was definitely not perfect for her. All I can say is: thank you for stopping by, and I hope you’ll leave the door open. (Yes, this is where you cringe, sorry not sorry for being a romantic)

And here I am, back to my introverted thoughts. And here I am, writing about my past experiences again.

But life is good because I’m here breathing and living and surviving. Day-to-day.

I honestly can say that right now, I am at one of my cyclical crossroads. And that scares me a little, both in a good and bad way. Does it get better? Or will it get worse? I mean, if I’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that my life truly moves in cycles. I have high highs and low lows. And those lows are seriously damaging. But those highs keep me optimistic.

So thank you for being a part of my journey.

I’d like to finish this post off with a gratitude list:

Thank you to first and foremost my family. They have always supported me and mean so much to me that I cannot convey in words.

Thank you to my best friends here at Villanova and back home. You know who you are.

Thank you to my freshman business professor, Dr. James Borden for inspiring me to start this daily blog.

Thank you to my humanities professor who has taught me and continues to teach me to look at life in a contemplative manner.

Thank you to Vinh Giang, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Adam Grant, for teaching me how to be the best version of myself.

Thank you to anyone who has ever asked me “How are you doing?” especially when I needed it the most.

Thank you for passing through my life. Whether you’ve decided to stay, or whether we’ve just had a few interactions.

Thank you to anyone who reads this blog. Whether we talk daily, or we haven’t met in years. You are a part of my journey, and I hope you’ll send me a message so we can reconnect.

Thank you to the world. I am here. I exist. And I am human being.

I like to look at people’s faces

Daily Blog 356

I like to look at people’s faces.

And I know that sounds extremely creepy, but please let me explain myself before you come to an immediate conclusion.

There is this… void, that I often feel in my own life.

How many times are we going to ask ourselves this question: “What is the purpose of life?”

I think if I ask it too many times to myself, I might spiral too deep into an existential crisis. But if I fear that if I don’t ask it enough, then this void that I’ve created within myself will inevitably continue to expand.

The question of purpose is what abates this void for me…at least in some weird and unexplainable way.

And I wish I knew

I wish I knew whether or not other people feel even just a little bit of the same.

How did these people get here? And where are they going?

Why are they here… and why are they going where they are going?

I’ve looked at people ever since I was a little kid… I remember one day in my childhood as I was getting watermelon juice at the big shopping mall near where I lived, and I just sat there, wondering why I was drinking this watermelon juice and why so many people were walking past me, and what each of their lives meant in this grand scheme of things as I continued to sip my juice. That watermelon juice was also damn good.

I look at people at my own campus.

What is this purpose I am looking for?

Is everyone else also looking for the same thing?

I try to see it in other people’s eyes.

And I’ve come to realize that every person, in their own beautiful way, is just as much as a complex of a human person as I am. I can see it on their face. I can see it in the way they walk. I can see it in the way that they are human.

I looked at people in Singapore, Penang, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Vancouver… and I see this same complexity in every person.

This complexity. It scares me.

It scares me to think that these swarms of people all live complex lives. It scares me to think that I am a complex human being.

But it also excites me. It’s so beautiful. I want to spiral deep into this complexity.

Why didn’t they tell me that life would be so complicated?

Grow up

I think the worst thing you can say to a kid is “grow up”

It implies that the creativity they have as a “kid” is not important.

It implies that they need to concern themselves with “matters of consequence” like money, and jobs, and numbers.

When in fact, the most important thing is to see life with your heart and not your eyes.

I spent my whole life being told to “grow up” and think about my future and become “successful,” but I don’t care if you are 5 years old, or 50 years old—no one should ever completely “grow up.”

Now I’ve been spending my days learning how to think more like a child, how to see life through the lenses of creativity and wonder. I think it’s important because a child sees with his heart, not his eyes. It’s quite magical.


If you are wondering why I am ranting, you should read the best book I’ve read this year, “The Little Prince”. It’s 90 pages long. Do yourself the justice of reading this masterpiece of a novel. Be prepared to think like a kid again.

How to choose a career you want with incentives

There are 5 types of incentives in life (3 according to the book Freakonomics), powered by 5 different types of “minds” in your head.

  • Economical
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Personal
  • Logical

Your economical mind wants you to become an investment banker. He wants you to make as much money as you can and get rich.

Your moral-self wants you to save the world and cure cancer and poverty on the same day. He wants you to help as many people as you can.

Your social mind seeks fame and approval. She wants all the Instagram likes and followers and wants everyone in her friend circle to admire her.

The personal part of your brain is the one that wants you to achieve your personal dreams. She wants you to be the best version of you—meditatesevery dayy, exercises, eats healthy, has a family and children, and owns 5 cute puppies. She wants to make a difference in the world, and she wants to feel good while doing it.

Your logical self is the bastard in the back of your head telling you: “Calm down! Let’s just live a normal, passive life, and not taking any risks.” This logical self is the one that stops you from doing crazy shit—which is good because it keeps you safe. But he also crushes your dreams of wanting to be an NBA player or Broadway actor.

How do you decide what you want to do in life?

First ask yourself: which of those incentives controls most of your decisions?

Is it all 5? Or is it just 1 or 2? Are you most driven by the idea of being rich, or famous, or both? Or do you want to cure cancer?

For example: here is my rough “breakdown” for now

  • Economical (30%)
  • Moral (30%)
  • Social (5%)
  • Personal (30%)
  • Logical (5%)

My idea of a future career is one where I am 1) rich, 2) able to help people, and maybe cure poverty 50% of the way, and 3) be the best version of myself.

Those 3 are my top incentives, with social and logical not really a big factor in my decision making.

Some people have their breakdown look like this:

  • Economical (200%)
  • Moral (-100%)
  • Social (0%)
  • Personal (0%)
  • Logical (0%)

Basically, the Wall Street investors who are willing to exploit others for money.

Thankfully, some people look like this:

  • Economical (0%)
  • Moral (100%)
  • Social (0%)
  • Personal (0%)
  • Logical (0%)

Thank goodness we have people like this. Shoutout to volunteers & philanthropists around the world.

So. What incentives are you driven by?

Then ask yourself, what career can best fulfill the incentives I most value?

For me, I value economical, moral, and personal.

In the future, I plan to be a: Investor, financial advisor, future professor.

Investor to make money and invest in companies I believe in (ethical companies, green companies like solar or renewable energy, and companies that are making a difference). Make loads of money so I can be financially stable and use that stability to help other people achieve the same.

Financial advisor to help low-medium income families who might need a little “push” in the right direction of the financial world.

Future professor, to help inspire and educate the future generation, and also to prove to myself that I can be a valuable person to society.

And then when I am rich, I plan to donate the large sums of my wealth to charity / causes I care about.

Economical, Moral, and Personal—all hit.

But in the end, whatever career you choose, just be happy to choose it, and be happy in life.

Good Luck.

Post is inspired by Tim Urban’s Blog (5 Incentives Tentacles)

Interactions in Taipei

“And you work both stalls by yourself?

“Yes. 10 hours every day”

“Wow.”

img_3503


“Are You Japanese?”

“No. But we speak a little for Japanese tourists.”

 


“It’s so cold out! Are you okay?” Was the first thing the female taxi driver said when I got into the passenger seat

 


we stopped a car to hitchhike

“How much $ for the ride?”

“Ha it’s free. Taiwanese people are nice. It’s not a bother.”

“Thank you so much!”

“Don’t worry; I won’t be selling you to anyone”

“:)”


Grateful Day 76: I am grateful for the people who tell me they enjoy my writing

Reading day 17: Currently Reading: Originals by Adam Grants

Interesting fact:

Novel-prize winning scientists are much more likely to be involved in the arts, a contrasting skill, compared to ordinary scientists

22x more likely to be involved in performing arts, amateur acting, dancing, magic

12x more likely to be involved in writing, poetry, plays, novels, short stories, books, essays

7.5x more likely to be involved in crafts, mechanic, wood making, electronics, glass blowing

7x more likely to be in visual arts: Illustration, drawing, sculpting, painting, print-making

2x more likely to be involved in music: instruments, composing, playing, conducting