Bounced Back in 2018

rex pham

I woke up on the first morning of 2018 in a blank state. The streets of Mexico City outside my Airbnb window were silent, providing a serene commencement to the potential that laid ahead. It was an atypical New Year’s morning with no hangover or aches caused by the night before. Unbeknownst to me, NYE in Mexico is a low-key holiday spent at home with family rather than a wild rager. At first, I was disappointed by the lack of festivities, but ultimately, was relieved not to feel as if a semi truck had crashed into my head.

I couldn’t wait for 2018 to begin. The prior year was a challenging episode comprised of stress, tension, and emotional fatigue, and I needed a psychological reset. A defining measure of character is how one responds to adversity. Either you leverage your failures to position yourself to succeed or you mope around hoping that the world feels sorry for you. Change is difficult, no question. It takes a lot to acknowledge when something isn’t working, especially if it pertains to something about you. It takes even more to have the desire to evolve.rex pham

2018 was a rebound year. I learned that there were flaws in my personality and thinking that I needed to fix. As someone who has a lot of self confidence, in addition to a healthy dose of stubborness, it took me some time to admit that I did need some work if I wanted to become the mature, committed, and dependable person I had moved to LA to be. When things don’t go your way, take responsibility rather putting fault on everything else.

This past year was a highly reflective one where I dedicated more time to myself. It’s relieving to duck away to your own personal island where you can focus and breathe. I adopted a few new surprising activities (i.e meditation, cooking, reading, lighting candles before sleeping, and just recently, simple yoga workouts) that not only helped eased my mind, but also helped recalibrate my values and priorities. I’m 33 years old, I don’t have time for the bullshit.

I had a few key goals for 2018, and I hit on all of them in some sort of way:

  • Make a career move to elevate my level and compensation: I’m in total ownership of my career and it’s an empowering mindset that inspires you to act confidently. Even though my time at Uber was the most enjoyable experience I’ve had working, I had hit my ceiling. Great friends and free Uber rides were awesome, but my career can’t come to a halt for these benefits. In contrast to previous years, I approached making career moves in a much more mature fashion, conducting due diligence, exploring all options, saying “no” when needed, and feeling assured when it came time to leave.
  • Align with those who share the same values and passions that I currently have: When I moved back to LA, I was just trying to befriend anyone. Unfortunately, Angelenos aren’t as “friendly” and outgoing as New Yorkers, so it was frustrating. However, I felt the importance of quality over quantity and began doubling down those meaningful relationships I already had. Plus, I lowered my patience with the wishy-washy, allocating little to no effort to maintain those associations.
  • Transform creativity into revenue: I’m not that creative. I’m not an artist of any sort. I just have a flurry of ideas stored in the right side of my brain that come into fruition through my blog (UNCVR), Instagram photos, or podcast (Millennial Trash). Being creative is the opportunity to express your unique perspective to the world and the icing on the cake is being able to generate revenue from it. It’s not a huge chunk of change, but I made some gas money from UNCVR.
  • Cultivate and build a relationship with a significant other who shares the same wavelength: You learn the most about yourself through the eyes of others. I learned how to be more considerate from Melissa in 2017 and applied a lot of her critique with the women I dated in 2018. I met Kat and we had an awesome ride, much different from most relationships I’ve had. It felt more “grown-up” and it was a new sense of value that I’ve grown to enjoy. More importantly, it was another significant connection where someone I revered taught me something about myself.

In addition to all these layered and sentimental goals, there were a number of memorable moments:

  • Great concerts from H.E.R, DVSN, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Jorja Smith, Jhene Aiko, Cardi B, Childish Gambino
  • Slanged mochi and makeup from my apartment for Uber Eats during a rainstorm
  • Annual birthday celebration in NYC and realizing that it may not be worth it to move back
  • Watched my first Cirque du Soleil show in awe
  • Devouring 80 McDonald’s chicken nuggets at Barney’s
  • Launched the Starry business in LA
  • Redesigned my room with more art and plants
  • Memorable dates: a 10 mile hike (bad idea), 143 in OC, etc.  
  • A magician melted my mind with slight of hand at a tech networking event
  • Roommate trip to Vegas that only signified my washed-ness
  • Fostered a pup named Lo Mein (aka Lil Mayne) and realizing I’m not ready to own a dog
  • A fantastic week in Hawaii (hana hou!)

All in all, 2018 was a really solid year (a 7 out of 10). I developed a stronger sense of who I am and became much more confident in my own skin. I’ve progressed significantly since that morning in Mexico CIty and for the first time in a long time, I feel at ease. I’m still working to become the peak version of myself, but I have very high hopes for this coming year. 19 is my go-to number.

As always, I have to put my goals into writing:

  • Go on 2 international trips outside North America
  • Become a better leader at work who can lead and motivate a team, while continuing to maximize my value
  • Create a community and connect like minded individuals
  • Cultivate and build a relationship with a significant other who shares the same wavelength
  • Smile more