Allow time to do its thing

I tend to get overly excited about many things. Long waits are agonizing, as the anticipation gnaws at my soul and my colorful imagination paints my thoughts. I often have to remind myself to slow down. My friend Galen reminded me yesterday,

“Don’t rush anything. Just enjoy.”

As the best things take time to develop, it is important that we allow events to unfold naturally. (Definitely a test for an impatient person like myself…but it is for the best.)

Both pain and pleasure is pervasive

It’s heart-wrenching, how one song can transport you back to the moment of great euphoria or pain. How a song can make you feel so alive or so alone. The power that music has in triggering memories is instantaneous. It makes you realize that both pain and pleasure are pervasive as long as you’re aware enough to see it.

It’s how you deal with it that defines who you are.

The hundred dollar idea

As an American, you are part of the global 1%. You have your basic necessities of food, water, shelter, warmth, and then some. When you see the world through that perspective, you realize that you have it good, though you may consider yourself “broke”. “Broke” mentality prevents many of us from giving back to those in need or treating your friends or getting your parents gifts. How long do we have to wait until we can start giving back? What income bracket do we have to reach? Or can we start doing it right now?

My father has this lesson I like to call “The Hundred Dollar Idea”. He encourages me to be generous to our loved ones when we can, especially when they have treated us well. He says,

When people treat you right, treat them right. Don’t worry too much about the money. A hundred dollars won’t make you richer or poorer.

Of course there are situations when a hundred dollars do make a significant difference and one hundred is an arbitrary number. However, this idea makes an important point when it comes to maintaining relationships and contributing to society.

Buy a bagel for a homeless person. Volunteer a few hours to a local non-profit. Surprise your friends and pay for the bill. Send a card or letter back home.

Being generous does not require large amounts of money, as giving time, thought, and energy are other ways of providing value.

There is more good than bad in this world

Many parents teach their kids never to speak to strangers. That strangers are dangerous. That there are many people that can hurt you. Even that most men want to assault women. These parents may teach this due to fears created by their past experiences or from a skewed worldview fostered by the sensationalization of negative news. Regardless of our parents intentions, we begin to learn the truth about the world when we become independent. As we grow older and begin our careers, we realize that not all strangers are threats.  That there are more good people than bad people. That most strangers are surprisingly kind and generous. That maybe our parents were wrong.

In my experiences moving to a new city, I have been overwhelmed with love and generosity from the community. When I tell people I had just recently moved to the Bay Area, they light up and are excited to tell me their favorite things about it. People willingly give me advice about how to navigate in the city, my job search, and the marketing field. I have encountered and reached out to countless strangers, only to realize that they can be a crucial resource in your time of need.

Though it is essential to continue to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, there are great advantages in being open to new people from all walks of life.

Strike a conversation with the person sitting next to you in the coffee shop, grocery store, or a local event. You might be surprised as to where it will lead you.

Reciprocate, pay it forward

Reciprocate.

If someone treats you out, does you a favor, or gives up their precious time to help you problem-solve, do it back. If you want to be less overt, then reciprocate the next time you meet with them. Or surprise them with their favorite snack, flowers, or tickets to a sweet show. When someone pays it forward to you, you can either continue spreading the positive energy or let it die with your taking.

You’d be surprised how great you feel after showing your appreciation.

Make it a habit and you will be surprised at how often life works in your favor.

Success without challenge is mediocrity

If you know me, you know I love food. I love watching food. I even wrote an ode to chefs.

When I tell people I spend my free time watching food documentaries, they next ask me, “Do you cook?” I answer, “Yeah, I’m getting into it. It’s a work in progress.” Then they ask, “Oh, what do you cook?” This is when I get sheepish. I scan my mind for the most complicated dish I made in the past few weeks and say, “Oatmeal and fish.” (This raises questions because it’s so peculiar. It’s actually extremely delicious when I add all my fixings.) In actuality, my go-to meal is the classic sunny-side up egg and bread. However, since it isn’t complex, I find myself feeling too ashamed to even mention it.

Sunny-side up eggs and bread is the breakfast of my childhood. I dress my eggs with different ingredients depending on my mood for the day: soy sauce, pate, pepper, red chili flakes, harissa, chives, spinach, etc. I also experiment with different types of bread: Vietnamese baguette, french baguette, wheat, rye, etc. It is extremely delicious, equally satisfying, and ultimately, very simple.

Today, I realized, there is nothing shameful about having eggs and bread as your favorite dish. Moreover, there is nothing shameful about saying that you are a beginner. That you are just starting off. That you are not entirely knowledgeable (yet). Or even that you are a highly skilled cook yet your favorite meal is the most elementary food.

There is a vengeance to obtain from knowing you are mediocre at something, great excitement in knowing that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and undeniable humility is admitting you love the simplest things. 

After all, great cooking begins with the egg.

Similarly, being in a state of uncertainty is not shameful. Whether you are unemployed, recovering from an addiction, going through a divorce, or “failing at life” (for the record, if you are trying, you are not failing), own it. There are crest and troughs. There are mountain and valleys. There are great moments and terrible moments.

You are human. It is normal.

What you make of the troughs is, however, should not be taken with mercy. These challenges are tests of your mental toughness. Push. Act. Rise. Be the contender and tap into your inner strength.

Success without challenge is mediocrity.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

I grew up learning how to do everything on my own. From difficulties in school to applying to college to my first job, I did it all on my own. I had to as there were other people to worry about; I had to help my parents raise my two younger brothers.

I was raised to be fiercely independent but also foolishly arrogant; I believed I could do everything by myself. This self-starter mentality allowed me to succeed for a while when I worked in a startup, until my performance did not meet expectations.

When I was overwhelmed, I insisted on figuring it out on my own instead of asking for help. However, when this led to mistakes at work, I realized that is not efficient nor effective strategy.

It’s okay to ask for help and say “I don’t know”.

There is a fine line between when you should problem-solve on your own and when you should seek input from others. Nonetheless, once you realize that needing the help of others is common and actually a smarter decision in most cases, you don’t feel as powerless but humble in realizing your human limitations.

It takes humility to recognize that you cannot do it all on your own. 

I am unlearning my old ways and reframing my false notions. Asking for help does not always take away your power, but more often than not, strengthens your relationships and builds a more sustainable framework for success. For instance, with more people, you have access to a larger pool of knowledge.

No one knows everything and you can learn something from everyone. Your job is to be open and humble enough to see that.

That is maturity.