Before 2000, I was a shy & quiet kid with a bad temper. I had few friends and was very sheltered. Growing up as a first generation immigrant Asian family, I was restricted, limited and controlled on what I could do. My life was dictated to me.
In 2000, I decided to no longer follow the rules but instead, I began to break them. I didn’t necessarily revolted but I realized that the rules of life were in my own hands. I began to live my life not in the vision of another but only of myself. I began to make friends and was not shy in hanging out with them. I started to get involved in high school in things that not only interested me, but in things that I felt was a part of me.
In 2001, I sang my heart out as the chorus of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Though still unknown to my friends, classmates and teachers, for the first time I felt like I was growing as a person. I traveled to Vietnam in a visit to my mother’s family and granting my grandmother’s wish of seeing her American grandchildren before she dies. Right after, I began my career in information technology and made a hobby into a career. By the time school started again, I became a senior and was among the top of my class. But I knew I could be better, I planned for greatness.
In 2002, I graduated in high school with honors that I never imagined. Besides graduating 3rd in my class, I went from a quite unknown freshman to a senior who owned the school. I controlled 2/3 of the school media (senior editor-in-chief of the school newspaper & managing editor of the school website), called the senior prank, hacked into the school network and pulled an epic prank on the vice-principal. I was the top person in my school. I was on cloud 9. The summer brought me to Europe for the first time. I traveled as a pilgrim to Lourdes where I volunteered and help the sick for a week where I learned how to server. Paris was a weekend of exploration, followed by World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada where I was mere feet from Pope John Paul II when he passed me. Fall came. I entered college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a freshman. I also tried to kill myself. I was all alone.
In 2003, I went on a retreat called Newman Foundation Koinonia 76. For the first time in my life, I felt loved as a person. I shared that love to my new friends and we became the freshmen crew that grew up together. We’re still friends to this day. That summer, I returned again to Lourdes to serve and love. Paris & Barcelona followed; they sparked my love for Europe. One year later, I returned as a sophomore and began things off as team for NFK78 and phantom chapel cover for NFK79. A year of love and new beginnings was topped off with my first new year’s eve with friends.
In 2004, the 3 stooges was formed; thus began MAN LUNCH – where random but truly epic weekly quests of 3 friends trying to find lunch and the consequences that followed (::coughs::orangepants::coughs). MAN LUNCH was also known amongst my friends as 3 monkeys trying to find mates; usually we failed miserably, which lead to many late night trips to IHOP or Steak & Shake. That summer conjured up an east coast road trip between the 3 monkeys Stooges and our friend Brian (sorry that we drove you crazy). 11 days, 5 cities, 3000 miles, 4 guys, 1 car and a parking ticket. I saw D.C. in its glory, visited Philadelphia, New York City and Boston for the first time and almost died in Toronto. Though tension got high in the end, for me, I felt free. That fall, I managed to work the system and had a free ride. Grants & scholarships paid for my tuition and working 20 hours for my dorm covered room & board fees. I was set.
In 2005, I started to be more social as all my friends began to turn 21. The weekends were fun and the mornings after usually meant lots of coffee. I witnessed the passing of JPII and the coronation of B16. Traveled to Lourdes once again and then partook in World Youth Day in Cologne. That fall, I called Fever House my abode and joined a brotherhood of lame jokes, hilarity and class. We threw the largest Formal de Fever in history with over 140 guests. It was a party and a half.
In 2006, spring flew by as I cherished my last semester of college and culminated with a bachelor’s in sociology. I spent that summer in Champaign/Urbana where I spent my days soaking up the sun and my evenings drinking beer on the Fever House porch with a small fire next to me. Let’s not also forget the late night debauchery with my best college buddies since freshman year filled with night visits to Murphy’s, after hour trips to One World Pizza and crashing at the Forbes’ as we fall asleep watching Family Guy. Then came August, I landed my first job as the technology director of my old high school. It was a my dream job. That is, until September 19th when it was announced that the 102 year old school is closing the next June. I went from a first year teacher to a mentor for 200 students and a full time morale booster for my colleagues. I adopted a kitten found in a trash bin and named him Quigley.
In 2007, I opened my big mouth and promised a friend that I would run her first race with her. 12 weeks later, I ran my first half marathon. I vlogged the whole race and it was the beginning of something new. Later that year, I said goodbye to the Great Q, a place that I loved and called home for 5 years. During my two weeks of unemployment, I fell in love with spending my afternoons outdoors sitting at coffee shops blogging and reading all 7 Harry Potter books. That life was short lived when I started work at another school teaching computer science and perform tasks as the director of technology as they started 1-to-1 computing. Come winter, I became one of the few people that could say, “I dated a ginger.”
In 2008, I accepted the highest teaching award for my school district after 6 months on the job (it normally takes 20+ years to win in my category). I jet setted my spring break as I learn to pack light and found my long lost love to travel. Come summer, I quit teaching and was recruited back by an old employer where I received most of my IT training. Before summer was over, I backpacked Australia, attended my 3rd World Youth Day and some how survived scuba diving. Speaking of surviving, by the end of the year, I lived through 2 corporate moves.
In 2009, the girl of my dreams left me. I started to attend concerts again, alone, and I enjoyed it. Befriended awesome YouTubers while attending a nerdfighter event. Went to my first tweet up. I attended a wedding that not only had an after party, but an after after party & morning hangover bar-b-que happened. I backpacked Europe alone on a whim with only a small duffel bag, visiting 7 countries, as I go through my quarterlife crisis. Attending 2 major blogger meetups, one of which sent me to New York City. Flew 19 times, visited 15 airports, 7 countries, 5 states and the District of Columbia in 5 months. I ran my 5th half marathon and then conquered my first marathon. But most importantly, I fell in love again. I fell in love with life.
For 2010 & beyond, I am entering a new decade as a man who is constantly loving, serving, learning and living. I am entering a new world of unknown, potential and hope. My life now in my own hands, I’m entering the future as myself, ready for a whole new adventure. And it’s going to be magnificent. I can’t wait!