The month of November was so fruitful in varying aspects, be prepared for quite the read this entry. Wild that I’m writing this in December, aka the last month of the year -- and that it’ll be 2024 soon. We started KPC mid 2020, oh how wild time is. And now for the long November 2023 recap — Stephanie
Lifestyle, Lows, and Lessons: (yes all in one long essay because the story flows better)
Chapter 1: Pilot to my lifestyle
Inspired by Jin, I finally gave therapy a try this month. I’ve always been passionate about mental health, and I finally made up my mind to give it a try -- I especially wanted to do so before my birthday this year. I felt like I’ve always been preaching about mental health and also saying how I want to try therapy, and it was time to just do it or else who knows when it’ll happen. Of course I had a lot of thoughts going into it -- in general I’m not used to getting all vulnerable and open to someone I just meet, I didn’t feel like my life was terrible at the moment (if anything I felt extra thankful this month) so I wasn’t even sure how to get started in the convo, and there’s always the fear of judgment (even therapists aren’t judgmental). All’s to say, I had a good first experience! I’m still early in my journey of sorts but so far I’ve been enjoying therapy, if anything because there wasn’t one major life incident I was going for, it felt kinda nice to just chat about a little bit of everything / aspects of life and then organically going deeper into a topic. I think the most comforting piece is that she’s not someone connected to my regular life (ie friends, family, work, relationships) so it’s nice being able to talk to someone and not worry so much about any repercussions.
Additionally this month, I had quite the Hannah Montana life and every week/day felt so eventful. The first week of November, I had a full Halloween day with work festivities, and then a whole mission accomplished at Doja Cat. Then 2 days later, I had yet another full day at work, and then yoga, and then a non-profit gala. The non-profit gala was the same one I was invited to last year and it was quite gratifying to attend again this year, from hearing the inspiring stories of the students the nonprofit supports, meeting new and old connections, and also realizing the growth within myself. Last year I remember I was so hesitant to go because I didn’t know anyone but the Director who invited me. I was afraid to sit at a dinner table not knowing anyone and having to speak to a bunch of older folks who may all already know each other. This year, I still had my fears but went with so much more confidence and wasn’t as anxious about it, I even got to reunite with the new connections I made from last year’s event.
Chapter 2: the come down
Unfortunately as fun as the Hannah Montana life was, it definitely took a toll on my health. The screaming and singing from Doja, followed by the constant chatting and networking from the nonprofit gala -- led to getting sick with a sore throat and cough the following days. I was so sad (and stressed) -- sad because I had festivities planned with my norcal friends for an early birthday celebration and I had to make the tough decision to cancel the plans. While I don’t regret it as I wouldn’t want to get anyone sick, and I was going to LA the following week so I should rest up so I can go on my trip, at the moment I did feel down. Stressed, because at work I had presentations and a big customer conference where I had a speaking session -- and I was constantly praying my voice would get better soon so I can perform well at work. Health is so important, and oftentimes it’s when our body doesn’t work the way we want it to, do we put extra attention to it.
What a time as a couple days after I got sick, I had a home trim (I always trim my hair every few months and it’s always been fine) but this time my mom was trying a new technique she learned off youtube and it did not turn out so well. I was surprised at how depressed it made me for the week (added with my stress about my voice lol). I haven’t had a haircut get to my mind so badly in so long, and I felt bad that I was letting my appearance get to me so much, but I really couldn’t help it -- and paid for a very expensive (but very worth) haircut to fix it. The haircut was worth every dollar as it truly shifted my mood 360, and my stylist was so so kind and chatted with me the whole 1 hour+ haircut. Wild how much hair shapes our appearances. Oh and did I mention that later this same week I had a first date scheduled haha I was really at a crossroads if I should cancel because of my built up stress from varying things in life, and I felt ugly with my long hair cut, but I also felt bad to cancel given we prescheduled over a week ago. So I decided I’ll just go and in the worst case scenario it’s just an hour of my life.
Chapter 3: a bit of romance
In typical fashion, my almost non-existent romantic life, did have a first date this month (yes this is the one I’m referring to from the last sentence). Copying and pasting some of the exact notes I wrote ..
“Pre date: I question what I am doing.
Post date: I had a good time! I haven’t met someone so similar to me, I still don’t know if I like him or just the fact that we’re similar people. It’s slow sharing, progression may be a better word, it’s not like how it was with T. But tbh I think I prefer this pacing. He told me I have a patient vibe and a soothing voice and would be great for the mental health field - I think that was one of the best compliments I received, especially since he didn’t know of my prev aspirations yet.”
I’m not sure if it was because of our potential similarities, or because of the compliment I received -- but what came after quite surprised myself about myself. My avoidant style and my shy-ness -- I usually would not communicate with a guy that I’d like to get to know them better after a first date, and here I did that. Stephanie is surprised at Stephanie. I know this isn’t a big deal to many, but for me, it’s quite the change in character and I hope my younger self would be proud. I think more than anything, for me it shows growth of being more open, learning to better communicate, and I hope more baby steps to healing my avoidant attachment style -- regardless of the end result with this person, I am thankful for this journey :). And the next week came, my 25th birthday.
Chapter 4: 25
So so much to be thankful for this birthday, and I already had so much to be thankful for last year. Sharing some notes and then into the recap of my birthday.
11/15/23 12:03am I’m seeing my birthday in a different light this year, probably because of something my dad shared. That birthdays can also be seen as the day we thank our parents for giving us life. I thank my parents, especially my mom, for giving me life on this day and the opportunity to craft a life worth living.
I was informed early on that our annual customer conference would be on my birthday, so I knew early on that I’d be spending it as a work day. I didn’t feel upset leading up to it though because I was surrounded by so much love before my birthday, during, and after.
Before my birthday. I feel like I’m at the point in life where I can confidently say I have some pretty solid people in my life, and that’s why even if I’m not with them on my birthday, because of how secure I feel in my bonds with them, I don’t feel alone. People often say Birthdays can make one feel lonely, and I’ve definitely had experiences of feeling lonely on a birthday, but the past years I’ve been feeling quite content and I don’t take the relationships in my life for granted.
Of course my family kept reminding me it’s my birthday and tried to celebrate with me prior because they knew I had a busy work week and then LA -- it never surprises me that they never forget, I’m so fortunate. What surprised me though was my aunts, I’ve always been close to my aunts from my mom’s side but we never really celebrated my birthday. This year, a couple days before my birthday they surprised cooked a big pot of soup (bc I love soup) and bought a birthday cake -- I definitely did not expect this and really felt their love there.
The day of my birthday. I was showered with messages from people I’m close to, and I don’t really care about those who didn’t. I think back then I used to somewhat be sad if certain people didn't remember to send a message. But nowadays it’s like, the people I care for definitely remember and for those who didn’t, they’re not in my closer circle anyways. What did surprise me from my closer circle of friends, especially Jin, is that she curated and produced a video full of video messages from my close friends from each life stage (even those I don’t think I’ve yet introduced her to). I was very shook to get a video, and started seeing the mix of people, and the heartfelt video messages. Extra thankful to Jin for curating this video gift :) . So yes, my day was off to a good start. Then comes the work conference. I’m pretty sure my manager made it known to my team it was my birthday lol because the day was filled with so much kind wishes from my team. Also I don’t share much about my personal life at work, so I was surprised and thankful that they took what little they do know (music festivals, sun, and hello kitty) and got me such a thoughtful gift. Even my colleague and close mentors (not on my team so didn’t get my manager’s reminder) DM’d me to say a thoughtful happy birthday. How lucky am I to have these people at work. The conference itself was mostly a success -- always room for improvement -- but a success nonetheless! Had a blast meeting some of the customers I spent the past year working with only virtually, and pumped for customer partnerships in the next year. Needless to say I felt so much love on this day, despite spending most of the day commuting and going to work.
After my birthday (it continues). The awaited Disneyland trip and LA!
First of all, I do not need to explain the magic of Disney. The magic even led to an initially rain forecasted day to be sunny and warm. Jokes aside, Disneyland was memorable not just because i haven’t been since I was a kid and I felt like I got to live out my inner child -- it was extra memorable because I got to spend it with Jin and Pearl. From the rides and attractions, but also the long waits (which didn’t feel too long actually) -- for two people who just met, I was extra thankful for my friends who are down to do anything to celebrate with me. And Sadie as well, who sadly couldn’t make it due to covid -- but similarly thankful that she was down to spend the time and money to celebrate with me. Time and Money are often our greatest assets, and I feel extra lucky to have friends who are willing to spend both with me. Beyond Disney, the rest of the trip was equally such a blast. I had so many never-ending conversations with Jin and Pearl, ate soooo much good food, and spent so much quality time together. It really didn’t matter what I did, with the right people, anything was fun. Whether that’s events like Disney, Universal, the movies, or simple things like sitting on the couch and catching up with Jin, or watching Twin Flames documentary with Pearl. It was an additional plus to get to see Thuan, as well as meet some of Jin’s friends. I enjoy all my many visits to LA, but I’ll definitely hold this one a bit tighter.
Chapter 5: Ending the month with continued gratitude and thankfulness
After my birthday weekend in LA, then came Thanksgiving in a flash. Such good timing as I was already filled with so many to be thankful for this entire month. Even more so, it was the perfect time to spend more time with my family. Who I’m eternally thankful for, but with so much going on in life (ie friends, work, nonprofit, etc) I always feel guilty for not making more time for them. Thanksgiving break was everything I needed to spend more time with the family I care so much about.
I have so much to be thankful for, but I wanted to call out a couple big themes:
Family: our family plays such a big role in so many aspects in life. While things aren’t perfect, I feel so thankful to have experienced love from family, and continue to experience it.
Friends: I saw somewhere on tiktok/social that people are often upset about their relationships and adult friendships. I’ve had my share of feeling lonely, but I feel so thankful and lucky to have people I consider my best friends and close friends who are there for me throughout the various seasons of my life. People that I know aren’t just here to spend the passage of time, but people that truly make me feel full.
Career: I spent so much of my life worrying about career, and not only do I feel thankful for my job itself at a place I once dreamed of -- but for the mindset I’m at now. This past year, I feel like I really shifted my mindset and have been okay with letting things go and not let it get to me past work hours. This shift helped improve the quality of my personal life as well. While I still have room for improvement and will always be a tad bit ambitious, after all these years of feeling like I was on survival mode -- I feel like I can finally take things more a day at a time at work vs overthinking a million things
Life chances: this is not to say that I didn’t work hard for things in life and intentionally put time into relationships, I know I put in effort, but I’ve really been thinking more about (and becoming even more thankful for) the life chances and cards I was given in life. Life chances like being born into a family that has love for me vs those who did not get to receive that. Things were far from perfect and my parents grew up poor, yet by luck again -- I was given the opportunity to get into a good school, take on internships, and get to where I am today career wise. That isn’t to say I didn’t work hard to earn each of these things, but statistically it just doesn’t happen for many people who come from similar backgrounds -- many vietnamese refugees died at sea and many first-gen students struggle with breaking socioeconomic barriers. I’m sure there are people who worked as hard as me, if not harder -- but I was lucky to be placed in situations that gave me the chance to grab onto opportunity. Similarly with friendships, while I do put in effort, I do feel lucky to have been placed in situations that gave me the chance to meet my close friends (ie orientation, internships, etc). People are often surprised at how I met my best friends and close friends, and it honestly is quite wild lol. Jin and I definitely put in effort to our friendship over the years, but somehow the universe had to align and place us in the same orientation date and group for us to meet.
And with everything in this write up, I’m so thankful for the life chances I’ve been given.
My pick of the month: Birthday Reflection Questions
I’m going to start a new tradition where this section of my pick of the month for November will be these same 3 questions I will answer every year. Very excited to introspect and also see if/how my answers change each year to the same questions.
1. How do you feel about this Birthday?
An abundance of love -- especially from the people around me, and also my love for what life has to offer.
It feels like my birthday is never-ending this month (quite literally) because of some cancellations in festivities, I’ve been celebrating before, during, and after my actual birthday. How lucky am I to feel this way. Sometimes I forget the tough times of this year, I made a big life decision for my family and then pivoted -- I also went back and fourth in advancing my career but learning to be okay with choosing time for myself -- but I am surrounding by so much love from the people I care about that these tough times aren't what defines my year when I think about my past year and birthday.
2. How do you feel about ageing and people knowing your age?
Surprisingly, I don’t feel much about it. 25 is supposed to be the quarter life crisis -- but maybe because a lot of my friends already turned 25, the number is not really affecting me that much? If anything, I feel like I’ve been itching to finally be able to say I’m 25 because most of the people in my year are 25, and everyone at work keeps thinking I’m 25 lol. Jokes aside, it doesn’t really affect me -- I thought it would affect me a bit more because hitting the mid 20’s and if we round up, I’m closer to 30 than I am 20 now -- I should be a bit more afraid but right now I don’t really feel much. I will say there are some life events that I do think about from time to time (ie buying a house, finding a partner, starting a family) that ageing doesn’t really work in my favor -- but as of now it isn’t hitting me too hard as 25 is still young and much to life and time left.
3. What has surprised you most over the past 12 months?
I can’t just give one answer so I’ll give multiple at the top of my mind right now.
Honesty with parents. I feel like this year I’ve really improved in being more honest to my parents, direct, and communicating about my life. When I went to celebrate Sadie’s birthday in Vegas, the many concerts, LA and Austin Trip -- I feel like I’ve really grown to be more transparent with my parents. While they don’t love it, they’ve been accepting. And in return it has felt so much more freeing to be able to be honest with my parents vs making up an excuse or lie.
Spontaneity. Growing up it’s kinda hard for me to be spontaneous, partially due to my personality and partially due to the way I was raised. I used to always feel like I was on survival mode -- chasing the next thing in school, getting to a good school, funding school, getting a good internship, getting a good job, trying to leave my job for another job, etc. Then with family, I always felt the need to be responsible and caring, because I love them. It also didn’t help that my mom grew up v traditional and protective. Because of these factors, I always felt the need to think through everything. But this year, I finally felt like I was able to live life more spontaneously. From going to many concerts and coachella, to last minute plans to ACL, and even more last minute mission busting to Doja Cat -- it’s been awesome being able to make these spontaneous decisions for myself. Concerts aside, I’ve also been able to be more spontaneous with how I spend my weekdays vs I used to only plan hangouts on weekends. And just overall days in general, I’ve learned to live more in the moment and just exist, vs planning all the time (I do love a good plan though). I definitely did not expect such a change in Spontaneity this year, and i’m here for it, I'm thankful for the luxury both financially and the headspace to be spontaneous.
A tiny bit more Vulnerable. It’s hard for me to truly open up to others, and this year I’ve quite surprised myself lol. It’s probably still not a lot to others, but it’s a lot to me. For example, putting myself in vulnerable situations -- saying yes to more things even if I do not know anyone (ie going to events alone), trying new things as a newbie (ie rumble, running outdoors, zumba, etc), and being open to dating, sharing more about myself to others, and seeing things through.
…And that’s a (long) wrap! I don’t think my messy writing did the best justice but I hope y’all didn’t have too hard of a time following along and enjoyed this journal entry. This month was filled with so much in so many areas of life, and I don’t take it for granted. I hope you also had a nice month and happy holiday filled with warmth. If you didn’t, as I know this Holiday time of the year can also be extra difficult for those who aren’t surrounded by love, I’m rooting for better days for you!
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Sending best wishes, gratitude, and optimism going into the holidays and New Year, that the dots will connect for us.
Until Jan 2024,