Categories
Life Lessons Lifestyle

A Look Back At 2017

They say the only reason you should look back is to see how far you’ve come and I definitely have the tendency to do it often. I’m so grateful for everything in my life, but sometimes I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I feel like I say that a lot, but even talking to my mom the other day, she was telling me how she remembered my last few years of college when I used to call her bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t just college, but it was all these personal issues and all the unknowns of the future.

Looking back at my 2016 review and thinking about all the things that happened this year, I have to say 2017 was my best year yet. It really is like Steve Jobs said,

..like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.

I definitely had my moments of doubt and insecurity and I stressed out about unnecessary things, but there was so much more good than there was bad. In 2017, I moved to a boujie ass apartment, got a new job with a really nice pay bump, met awesome new friends, kept amazing old friends, and still kept catching flights, not feelings. (Okay, maybe I caught some feelings, but I caught flights to avoid those feelings!) I traveled to new places like Denver, Boston, Tulum, and Cancun and to old places like Tucson, Las Vegas, Austin, and Phoenix. I had a ton of firsts, a handful of lows, and a lot of highs.



In January

I shot a gun for the first time and went to Tucson to celebrate my sister’s engagement.

In February

My 5th grade best friend got married to the love of her life, I had a mini reunion with a few sorority sisters in Denver, and I moved from the suburbs to Uptown Dallas.

In March

I celebrated a low key 28th birthday and went to my first Mavs game.

In April

I visited Denver again and started a new contract job. It was a risky move for me because I don’t really like working contract positions, but I took the risk hoping that I’d get converted to a full time position or at the very least, that I’d get to learn some new skills to add to my resume.

May

Was a lowkey month for me, but I had another one of those moments where I reflected on the past 5 years of life. So much reflection that I wrote A Letter To My Newly College Graduated Self

In June

I went to my first Texas Rangers game and went to Las Vegas to have a mini family reunion to celebrate Father’s Day and my Mom’s birthday.

July

Was spent exploring more of Dallas and realizing how much I really do love this city. Living in Uptown is a completely different experience from living in the suburbs. It kind of blows my mind how much I love it here because I said I’d never move to Texas and I really wasn’t expecting to love it so much.

In August

My sister came to visit.

In September I did my first ever solo trip to Boston and went to my first ever Pats game at Gillette Stadium. You have no idea how happy I was to be there.

 

In October I went to my first music festival, Austin City Limits, with some of the best people in town.

November

was the most eventful month of the year. I got converted to a full time employee and for me, it reminded me that I really do love what I do for a living and it reinforced all the past life decisions I made. I went to Scottsdale, AZ to help my sister out with some wedding things and spent Thanksgiving weekend with some of my favorite people in Tulum and Cancun, Mexico. We visited Chichen Itza, Dos Ojos Cenote and I even went ziplining for the first time! It totally reminded me how much more of the world I need to see.

 

In December

One of my best friends spontaneously visited me in Dallas. Some people seriously just get you and she’s definitely one of my people. Not to mention we can still act like little kids together.

 

2017 was so good to me, but 2018 is mine.

Categories
Career Girl Boss Life Lessons

The Best Career Advice I Ever Received

 

I recently watched a TED talk by Drew Dudley and it’s a great talk about leadership, but a question he posed in it made me reflect on my own life. He said,

How many of you guys have a lollipop moment, a moment where someone said or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better?

It struck me mostly because I had been thinking this past week about the things that have led me to where I am today. It’s still pretty early in my career, but I definitely have had my own lollipop moment.

 

My last year of college at UofA, I spent most of my free time applying to jobs. I can’t even remember how many I applied to and how many interviews I went on. I remember it being the worst because I was about to be a new college grad with no internships under my belt and the only relevant work experience I had was working part-time at an IT Help Desk for one of the colleges on campus.

 

Tech interviews were especially stressful because I’d often get asked to write some code on the spot or verbally draft up some logic over the phone. It didn’t help at all that I suffered badly from Imposter Syndrome, but I sucked up my nerves and went through every interview I got hoping that somebody, anybody, would say yes. At the end of every interview, they always asked if I had any questions and my favorite one to ask was this:

 

What’s the best career advice you have ever received?

 

I’d get great reactions and thoughtful answers – I really wish I remembered them all. But there was one answer in particular that’s stuck with me.

 

I was interviewing for a Software Developer position in Ithaca, New York. I had interviewed with one other person in the company and they wanted to set up a second interview with their Vice President at the time; she had seen my resume and wanted to speak to me herself. We had a great conversation; she seemed intrigued by my background and satisfied with my answers.

 

When I asked her what’s the best career advice you ever received? she replied:

 

Never take a job that you know how to do.

 

I was confused by what she meant and she explained, when you take a job you already know how to do, you’re not learning anything new. It doesn’t mean take a job that you’re absolutely unqualified for, but take something you can learn and grow in.

 

I was surprised – and relieved. Mostly because I had felt so unqualified and inexperienced for most of the jobs that I was interviewing for, but also because it put things into perspective. It’s guided me every time I’ve come to a crossroad in my career. Every time an opportunity came up, I’d be scared that I wouldn’t know what I was doing and the advice always came to mind.

 

 

There have been several times where I felt completely inadequate. Like I wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t good enough, or I didn’t deserve to be in that position, but I’d remind myself that it’s okay to not know everything. I’d take a step back and realize that the few things I didn’t know how to do, I could figure it out with some help and guidance. Pretty soon, those ‘unknowns’ became familiar territory.

 

 

In Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, she brings up research that found that men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the qualification, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them. It’s surprisingly true. I know that I’ve felt that way and I’ve even seen this in practice – my male friends have much more confidence applying to jobs than my female friends.

 

That confidence comes with time, experience, and a little bit of faith in yourself. I’ve found that as long as you have a great attitude, a willingness to learn and work hard, you’ll figure it out. Don’t be afraid to take that job, or at least apply for it! You never know – it might just be exactly what you needed.

 

I ended up not getting an offer for that position. They had asked if I was willing to relocate and even though at that point, I would’ve gone anywhere, it probably wouldn’t have been the best decision. I think they were willing to give me a chance, but in hindsight, they knew it wouldn’t have been the best fit for me. I didn’t even have a clue where Ithaca was and having a little Hawai’i girl moving from Tucson, Arizona to upstate New York would’ve been some serious culture shock.

 

It’s kind of crazy to think how much of an effect that lollipop moment had on my life. I doubt that VP even remembers interviewing me. You never realize how much of an impact that moment makes until much later, but in retrospect, it ends up being so sweet.

 

Have you had a lollipop moment?
 What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
 Share with me in the comments!
 

Categories
Life Lessons Lifestyle

Bumbai You Learn – Stories From My Dad

Photo Credit: Sons & Daughters Photography

My Dad is a Filipino-American who immigrated to Hawai’i in the ’70s, when many other Asians were immigrating to work on the pineapple fields and sugar cane plantations. My Dad is a simple man. He doesn’t care for fancy things or going out. His favorite pastime is sitting in the garage and “talking story” with his friends. If you visited my parents house in Honolulu today, there’s an old double door fridge in the garage full of beer — Heineken, Michelob, Corona, & Bud Light (his favorite). As soon as you arrive, he’ll offer you a beer. Kasla mayora, my mom says. (As if he’s running for mayor.) If you sit and talk with him a while, he’ll talk your ear off. He can speak perfect English, but when he’s talking story, he has a heavy Filipino/pidgin accent. He has so many random life stories. Stories I’ve heard so many times it used to make me roll my eyes, but now that I’m older, listening him retell them makes me smile.

Growing up, I’d get annoyed listening to him ramble on and on, going from one story to the next. You can tell when he’s excited about a story — his voice gets louder, his actions more animated. He’s always telling the same ones over and over again, I never understood why until I got older and lived through some of my own.

A lot of the things I learned about my Dad, I overheard while he was talking story with my Uncles or his friends. Some of his stories were about life in the Philippines. How difficult life was, how he survived. Others were about his immigration to Hawai’i. How he came here with nothing, how he had to work hard and how he faced difficulties as an immigrant. And of course there were the crazy drunk stories. “One day me and your Unko…” — those were my favorite.

But there were specific stories that he directed at me and my sister — the life lesson stories. He never framed them that way, but he would say, “Bumbai you learn.” ‘Bumbai,’ pronounced buhm-bye, is a pidgin word that translates to later on. ‘Bumbai you learn’ loosely translates to, ‘maybe later, you’ll understand.’ He told us about the mistakes he made, the things he wished he could’ve done. The opportunities that he never got to have because “it wasn’t in the cards.”

My parents, especially my Dad, always encouraged us to go after what we wanted. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot, but they managed to make things happen. When my sister and I wanted to take dance classes, we danced. When I wanted to play piano, I got lessons. When I wanted a computer, we got an old hand me down desktop. When I wanted to leave Hawai’i for college, he convinced my mom to let me go.

“You can do aaanything you like,” he’d say. “But whatever you do, do your best.”

I inherited a lot of things from my dad. His tan complexion and affinity for alcohol. His carefree attitude, his love of people, and his steadfast confidence that everything will work out. But had my dad not pushed me when I was scared and scolded me when I doubted myself, I would have never taken the risks that I have or made the moves that I did.

I can still hear my dad sighing in frustration every time my lack of self confidence held me back. I know now, it was because he always saw in me the things that would take years for me to see myself. I moved away from Hawai’i when I was 17 and years later when I was home visiting, he talked about what it was like raising me and my sister. In what may be one of the most raw moments we’ve had, he said, “You know, we never knew what we were doing, but we tried our best.”

Well Daddy, I just want you to know, you and Mom did good. We turned out okay and . Happy Father’s Day.

Categories
Life Lessons Lifestyle

A Letter to My New College Graduate Self

Dear 2012 Roxy,

 

It’s May 12, 2012. I know this day felt like it would never come. You spent the last year and a half pulling all-nighters, crying, and wondering if you’ll ever graduate or get a job. Well it’s 2017, 5 years later, and damnit, it was all worth it. Today is bittersweet – you finally did it, but you’re faced with a huge life decision. The best thing you could hear right now is this – just trust yourself.

 

2017 is amazing. You get the ‘dream job’ you wanted, the city apartment with the walk in closet, and you even the car you always wanted (you named her RiRi LOL). You’re one of the rare few who can say you love what you do and you get paid pretty damn well for it. But you’re about to walk into one of the worst seasons of your life. 2012 – 2013 ill be a series of ups and downs and I wish so much that somebody was there to give you some advice and tell you it’s gonna be okay.

 

ON EMOTIONS

Sometimes you can be emotionally inept. It’s only because you feel everything so deeply that it’s almost easier to ignore. When you hit a rough patch, your first instinct always says, black it out and run away. You’ll literally try to run away to another city for a weekend or drown your sorrows in alcohol. I just want you to know, it’s okay to be hurt. To feel hurt. But no matter how many out of town trips you take or bottles you drink, you will have to deal with it sooner or later. The sooner you confront it, the faster you can move on. But also know, it gets better. Feel all the emotions, but don’t let it rule you. Embrace who you are and don’t be ashamed. You’re a little weird and a complete child at heart – smile big and laugh loudly (I think people secretly love it).

 

ON SELF CONFIDENCE

You will have a bad case of Imposter Syndrome. You were always the awkward, smart girl in high school but when you get to college, you’ll realize, you’re just average and the awkwardness feels magnified. It’ll start in your engineering classes – you’re only one of a handful of girls and those engineering guys never make eye contact or speak to you in class. It’ll continue into your career when people say things like, “Oh you don’t look like an engineer..” or “You’re not technical enough.” You are beautiful and smart and you are more than enough. You’ve always worked hard to earn your place, don’t you dare apologize for it.

 

ON LIFE DECISIONS

You will have several life decisions in the next few years and whenever you have a big life decision to make, in true Roxy fashion, you will avoid and defer. But I want you to know that one thing is always true when it comes to these decisions:

Your gut instinct is always right.

Whenever you come to a fork in the road, one decision will be safe and comfortable. The other will be scary and give you that knot in your stomach that comes right before a big roller coaster drop. You will always hesitate and overthink, but your gut knows what you have to do –

 

Close your eyes, hold on for dear life and wait for the drop.

 

It’s worth it every time. Promise.

ON DATING AND RELATIONSHIPS

You lucked out in pretty much every other area in your life except this one. You have a huge heart and horrible taste in men, but I think your gut also knows they weren’t right. Boys will say a lot of things, but try to remember to

watch what they do and not what they say.

 

You wear your heart on  your sleeve and come off as intense (see point one on emotions), but when you do love, you love hard. You’ll have a thing for douchebags and guys who just aren’t ready, but don’t let the bad apples make you bitter. The right guy will show up and stick around. If he doesn’t do either, you know what to do.

 

 

Adulting sucks and life is hard, but always be thankful and enjoy the ride. You’ll come such a long way from nerdy Coke bottle glasses Roxy – from that little old house in Kalihi Valley all the way to Dallas, Texas to be exact. You will hear over and over again that you’re too something” – too young, too inexperienced, too sensitive, too nice, or even too much. Don’t listen. Pray more, pull no punches, and don’t apologize for who you are. You won’t regret it.

 

Love,
2017 Roxy

 

P.S. Be fierce, but stay kind – the world needs less assholes.

 

Categories
Life Lessons Lifestyle

3 Things I Learned About Moving To A City Where I Didn’t Know Anyone

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

 

A little over a year ago, I packed my car with a ton of clothes, my beloved Xbox and one of my best friends and made the 15 hour trek from Phoenix, Arizona to Dallas, Texas. It felt a little unreal when we cruised through Las Cruces and then it felt like FORever driving through West Texas.

 

how sad and empty my apt was the first month

 

I knew virtually no one moving here and had no clue if I would even like it. I lived out of an extended stay for 2 weeks trying to find a place to live. I had to wait a whole month for the movers after that to get my furniture – my living room had my Xbox, a gamer chair, and a 32 inch TV on the box the chair came in (see picture above). I got lost on the freeways more times than I can count and got frustrated not knowing my way around town. It has definitely been an adventure but I’ve grown to be quite fond of Dallas but I also learned a few things along the way.

 

Old Red Museum, Downtown Dallas

 
I learned a few things living in Texas, like:

 

  •  There’s a city called Texhoma on the TEXas-oklahOMA border. There’s also a city called Texarkana on the TEXas-ARKansas-louisaANA border. I was very amused when I learned this.
  • There are no mountains in Dallas. I thought the desert was flat, but I was wrong.
  • Whataburger is a thing. So is Dr. Pepper. Anything that was born in Texas is a thing. Mention a honey butter chicken biscuit to any Texan and watch their eyes light up. I dare you.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to say y’all in a professional setting. I have been tempted to, but I cannot bring myself to say it.
  • If you can, AVOID THE 635. It is never a good time.

 

Yeyo at Lake Carolyn, Las Colinas

 

I’ve been away from home for 10+ years now and living completely on my own for the last 3. Moving somewhere where you don’t know a soul is kind of terrifying. But it’s exciting at the same time. Here are 3 things I learned along the way:

 

1. Don’t be afraid to jump.

One of the most ‘traumatizing’ life events is moving. Moving to a new city and state where you don’t know a soul and doing this all ALONE magnifies the trauma. It’s terrifying. But it’s also exciting and liberating. The first few months were really lonely and the stark change and culture shock had me mildly depressed for a while. (Ask my sister, I called her bawling my eyes out and I had no legitimate reason why.) I questioned if it was even the right decision. But a year later I’m SO glad I moved. I found friends, I learned the freeways and I found my way.

Deep Ellum

 

2. But don’t make the leap when you’re unstable.

When I graduated college 4 years ago in Tucson, I had a ton of personal problems that I thought I could runaway from. Running away doesn’t make them disappear, it just defers them. I thought moving to a completely new state where nobody knew me would solve my problems. I was THIS CLOSE to moving to Chicago and then briefly (and ironically) almost got placed in Dallas. God knew me better than I knew myself and placed me in Phoenix. I remember thinking, ‘Ugh, I’ve been trying to get the hell away from here.’ Looking back, I think it was the best place for me to be at the time. My two best friends lived in Phoenix, I knew the area and I had a ton of friends to support me. In the emotionally fragile state that I was, I think the shock of somewhere new would’ve been overwhelming. 3 years later, I’m glad the cards fell the way that they did and I was in a much better place emotionally and even career-wise to make the move.

Truth & Alibi, Deep Ellum

 

3. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without my faith.

My first 4-5 months in Dallas was probably my loneliest. It didn’t help that I moved right before the holidays and literally spent Christmas alone on my couch in my apartment. I didn’t even have my dog, Yeyo, with me. Although it was a particularly ‘dry season,’ it was also one of my sweetest times with the Lord. It kind of breaks you down a little bit when you’re sleeping on an air mattress for a month because the movers take for-freaking-ever but it also makes you question yourself – What do you have when you have nothing? I knew that I had God and I wouldn’t have made it without that truth.

The Rustic, Uptown Dallas

 

I’ve been lucky to have a lot of support from my friends and family. Making a huge move on your own is tough, but it’s been so rewarding and I’m so grateful to have had the experience. It’s scary and you might ask your self all the what ifs – like what if I fail? But my darling, what if you fly?