What I Learned in 2018

Last year I learned how to build a 7 figure Amazon business and then my grandmother passed away. It was a tough time for me. I asked myself a lot of questions in 2018. This year I learned that I could scale 7 figure businesses, found clarity, and more. 

I spent most of 2018 exploring ideas and myself. My therapist asked me every week, “Youn, what do you need?” My answer changed as the months went by.

At first my response was that I have almost everything that I could possibly want right now. How could I ever want or ask for more? Shouldn’t I be happy with what I have even if there’s some other things I want? Why am I not happy? I feel ungrateful and I feel like I’m missing something.

I realized that I had changed a lot in the past year or even few years and 2018 was my reckoning with that.

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris

I used to want to be a badass entrepreneur who could live the Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week lifestyle. I could drop everything and be in another country at a moment’s notice. Then I started flying and seeing places for work and thought to myself, traveling takes a lot of effort. I still want to go places, but I don’t prioritize the freedom of traveling the world anymore.

I still prized freedom just not that type of freedom. Instead, I think I might have grown into a role that I was always meant to play. When I was growing up, it was a role I feared and hated. It felt like a forced obligation that I had no say in. I think that’s what drove me to love freedom in the first place. I wanted to break all intangible chains.

Now I realize that the intangible chains I saw as a teenager were just in my head. You pick your chains and obligations. As I have grown the past few years and battled with my personal demons, I have learned that there are chains or responsibilities that I am happy to take on.

I had a really shitty childhood. I still haven’t worked through all of it. It’s so bad that when you look at all my childhood photos you can sort of tell how unhappy I was which is a little sad. Either way, as I have changed in the last 20 years, so has my family. We have all grown and become better. It’s fascinating to see that growth and change as a family unit. Nightmares have become blessings. The biggest force was time. Gradually hearts softened, trust grew, and we rebuilt what we wanted or we’re still building it.

I think that’s the magic of life or time. As my grandmother has moved on, there is new life. The new emptiness helps us appreciate her more as well as the new lives and journeys that will enrich our families.

So I have always been busy but now I embrace my family obligations. It’s not as overwhelming anymore.

Before I dreamed about being a badass entrepreneur, now I dream about building an empire from home while balancing a baby on my knee. I don’t know if we will ever have a family because that’s far in the future but I know it’s a future that won’t happen unless I make it financially possible.

I want to make sure that I have financial independence when I decide to become a mother. I want to make sure that I have the freedom to work or not work and I want to have it all. If I ever have a daughter, I want to tell her that I strived for my dreams no matter how impossible they seemed, and that I did not let anything get in the way. I made no sacrifices. That I did everything in my power to make the impossible, possible and to be the master of my own destiny.

I don’t know how my life might shift again. I used to be afraid but now I’m not. I’ve learned to embrace change. It’s a part of life, like how seasons change and the winds shift. It doesn’t make sense to fight it. It’s like water, when obstacles show up, it finds another way. It keeps going. Maybe that’s life. I’ve learned to be like water.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” ― Bruce Lee

I have serious issues when it comes to relationships. I was probably a shitty friend and I’ve had lots of shitty friends. People who didn’t believe me when I told them a mutual friend had sexually assaulted me. People who suggested there was something wrong with me because I was single while they had been in relationships. People who were upset with me when I started having relationships. People who couldn’t deal with my mental health issues. People who treated me like I was crazy or disabled.

I like to avoid people because of all the bad shit that has happened in my life but I realized that not all people are like that. You have to let things go and make room in your life for new things.

I used to be like, omg my little sister has like 1000+ friends, what is wrong with me? Or not many likes on this post, guess no one cares. Social media anxiety is a thing and I realized that you really shouldn’t give a shit about social media.

Social media is a system that was intentionally designed to manipulate the basic survival instincts in humans. When you feel anxious because you’re not receiving as much social media approval as some of your peers- it’s natural to feel bad about it. It’s supposed to tell you something. In the old days, this was fine because social approval was important when it came to survival and it helped the community thrive and survive. If you lost social approval, you would probably die. Most of the shit we post on social media does not serve this purpose anymore but our responses to it are still irrationally from 10,000 years ago to prevent death via loss of social approval.

I have to admit that it also made me feel better about myself to see the profiles of people I considered successful and their quiet social media profiles. You could help a million people but still struggle like everyone else. I think opting out of social media is for the best. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Anyway, I reflected on my relationships and how friendships require responsibilities. I reflected on the people I miss and didn’t miss. How I actually felt about them and the way they had treated me in the past and I was happy to finally let things go. This video helped a lot too.

So far this post has been a lot about basic personal development.

Some other conflicts I wrestled with this year include: questions about what I wanted my life’s work to be, building a team, working with a team, programming, and building a software business.

I think I found some clarity on what I wanted from my life and how I was going to get there. I had to dive into my past and question all my beliefs. I think I’m still questioning- waiting for new levels to unlock as I reach new stages but for the time being I found clarity.

When I sought what drove me- the answer was simple. It was the angry 7 year old in me who was angry, alone, and neglected. I wanted to help my inner child. I did not know how to help my inner child but I wanted to make sure that I could help as many people like her in my life. I had experienced a lot of pain in my life and my life’s mission was to help as many people as possible remember that someone did care about them, that they saw their pain and misery, and that they were going to fight to help make things better. I did not survive my family’s trauma with poverty, sexual assault, and mental health crises to turn my back on the people who are still struggling- the people that society, your family, or your friends do not want to see.

I was stuck and I slowly became unstuck. I learned how to work in a team again and gained more confidence in my ability to lead and build teams.

I remembered the best teamwork that I had ever experienced in my life when I used to play esports and I knew I wanted to recreate that. I still yearn for it today.

I want to be part of a team of people who are better than me, smarter than me, who inspire me, and who can help me grow. I want to be the dumbest person in the room. I want to be part of a brilliant and virtuous team that works like a single organism with high level communication, precision, and speed.

I’ve found a lot of teams in the projects I’m currently on that I enjoy working with. I’m working on building my dream team and I know that will require working in a lot of teams- and I will always strive to join bigger rooms.

I learned how to program this year and got rejected to the Recurse Center twice. I never thought I could build my own Amazon PPC management software but I think I’ll be able to finish a basic MVP and start testing it before the end of the month. I cannot believe how much progress I’ve made even though I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. My programming goals for next year is to learn how to build and ship production level code and then dive into machine learning and deep learning. I’m already building software that is 100x better than me, I want to build things that are 1000x and a million times better than me, and that can help a million people someday.

I have a few ideas on how I’m going to do that. I’m working on open sourcing Radical Pads. I’ll be hosting my first cloth pads workshop next year and I’m going to open source everything so anyone could make their own pads or lead their own workshops wherever they are.

I’m also going to work on Aegis, a website that offers free SHSAT prep resources online. It’ll be a great project to develop my front-end skills and maybe I’ll be able to help lots of kids in New York City at the same time.

I have been incredibly grateful to join communities of like-minded passionate citizens and I am excited to build, grow, and meet more passionate people next year.

I’m also working on supporting my friends and helping them work towards their dreams. It is exciting and rewarding. I am extremely grateful to all the amazing people in my life who have helped me get to where I am today.

So I’m really excited to say that I had a lot of breakthroughs this year and that I’m really excited for 2019. I have never been more optimistic about the future.

In 2018, I learned how to scale 7 figure businesses, how to program and potentially build 8 figure businesses, and how to sew and build social impact businesses or organizations. I would never have dreamed that this could have been possible in only one year.

Time is magical. Happy holidays and see you in 2019.

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