You are very fulfilled in your life, but are there any areas you wish to improve on to be the best version of yourself? What are your aspirations and inspirations?
1. Keep Learning & Never Sit Still
Growing up, I always shied away from things I was not good at. I avoided sports because I was not coordinated. I focused on math and science and avoided the humanities like the plague because I just didn’t get it. My brain wasn’t built the right way, I reasoned. Maybe because English was my second language (I grew up speaking Chinese at home), I always hated writing because I struggled so much with it in school.
For college I chose MIT, a school that requires all undergraduates to take a year of physics, a year of calculus, biology, and chemistry, yet has no formal foreign language requirement nor a strict writing requirement. I loved how I didn’t have to face my weakest subject, writing, and instead could throw all my energy at math and science, my comfort zone.
When I graduated with my chemistry degree and had to decide what to do next, I considered science-focused careers like medicine, scientific research, or teaching at the university level. One thing I knew I didn’t want to be: a lawyer.
It’s funny how things work in life sometimes.
Through an unusual twist of events, I found myself attending law school at night and pursuing a career in patent law working at a bio-pharmaceutical company during the day. After law school ended (and I actually had time at night again!), I started Tiny Urban Kitchen. Strangely, I had become a writer. Not only that, some folks actually thought my writing was decent, and gave me a couple well-respected awards.
These odd set of events in my life have shaped who I am and what my aspirations have become. I’ve learned not to underestimate what you can do. Don’t use your background as an excuse. Through sheer hard work and lots and lots of practice (both through law school and writing this blog), I actually became a better writer.
I’m less afraid now, and I aspire to continue learning new things. Of course, many of these new things are things I naturally enjoy. I love cooking, photography, and (surprise!) writing (sometimes). The blog has been a great way for me to continue improving in that area. Music comes easily to me, and I’ve been picking up new instruments every few years since college (my latest few: bass, electric guitar, and more recently, voice!).
But I am also willing to try things that are hard for me. About six months ago, Bryan and I went and got certified for SCUBA diving. You may not know this, but I am terrified of the water. I learned how to swim a little too late in life, and thus have never been super comfortable in the water (see above re: sports).
I struggled tremendously during the certification process. While Bryan easily passed with flying colors, I had to deal with psychologically freaking out every time I put my head under the water. But through time and persistence (and patient teachers), I managed to pass as well, and we ended up enjoying some great diving in Hawaii.
I aspire never to get complacent and lazy. I want to keep challenging myself to learn new things, like honing my skills at the workplace so I can be a better patent attorney or learning about the world through extensive travel. I want to broaden my skills in other areas, whether it be cooking, photography, new instruments, or a brand new hobby altogether.
In short, never sit still.
2. Invest in Relationships
Of course, becoming a self-actualized person is nice and all, but in my mind, life is nothing without the people surrounding you. I have been blessed to have a wonderful family as well as a great community of friends from both the college years and afterwards in Boston. It’s taken me awhile to realize this, but it’s invaluable to cherish those friendships and continue investing in them.
It’s harder to make new friends when you’re older. People are busier and saddled with the responsibilities of life. This makes it that much more important to preserve the deep friendships you already have. I’m not the best at this, but (thankfully) through my more frequent traveling in the past 5 years, I’ve had a chance to visit many friends who have moved away. It is during these catch up dinners and “sleepovers” that I most realize how precious these friendships are. I aspire to remember the value of these friendships and to continue fostering them into the future.
3. Always Give Back
Similarly, there’s really no point in gaining all these wonderful skills if I just keep them to myself, so my third aspiration is to remember to always give back. I try to do this in many ways currently. I lead one of the music ministries at my church and play/sing in the praise band on Sunday mornings. I organize a group to shop for, cook, and serve a hot meal to the needy at the Boston Rescue Mission once a month.
But I think I could do so much more. As I look at my time spent as a whole, I realize a lot of it is taken up by work, this blog, and travel, which is still mostly for my personal enjoyment. As I look forward to this next few decades of my life, I hope to change that ratio and to have more of my time spent helping others in need.
What are your aspirations and inspirations? Share your vision by joining the growing community of women inspired in the comments below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #womeninspired.
With your long-term goals in mind, do you have any financial challenges that you want to tackle?