I learned how to be myself in 2019.

It’s at 3.26 am. It’s also the second to last day of 2019.

I am jet-lagged from international traveling, so instead of tossing and turning, I decided to just get up and try to do something productive. I enjoy the quiet holiday time in Seattle because most of the working force is out of town. It also gives me plenty of alone time to reflect on 2019. So here we go.

January: It all came true.

I interviewed at Amazon on Jan 9 and got the offer before I got on my plane back to Colorado on Jan 10. There was a team building event at the company I was working for at the time on Jan 10, and I went in knowing that I was going to give my notice the next day. The event turned out to be a blast, and it kept reminding me how much I was going to miss this team.

February: Celebration time.

I took a break before starting a new job and spent some quality time with my family. They were all excited for me, especially my dad. He thought it was a great move. It was a wonderful time of the year, lots of food, hanging out with old friends. I also found my home in Seattle in February and the new life officially began.

March: Seattle.

I moved to Seattle on March 1. As the date got closer, the excitement started to wear off and I was getting more anxious every day about the move. This happens every time I move to a new location. There was just so much uncertainty and insecurity. My first day was March 4, and I saw Jeff Bezos in person the next day at the company all-hands. It was also my birthday. I thought it was a pretty special way to celebrate it :)

April: Friends.

April was the month when the honeymoon feeling about the city started to kick in. I started to spend all my weekends exploring, catching up with old friends who had moved to Seattle earlier than me and meeting new people. Everything was new and exciting! Weather in Seattle was getting nice also, so I went outside a lot and was just so eager to discover what the city had to offer.

May: Social life.

Summer is here! I gotta say summer Seattle and winter Seattle feel like two completely different cities. It was so vibrant in the summer. There were festivals going on every weekend. It was sunny and perfect temperature almost every day. I was continuing to spend a lot of time socializing with people at both company events and friends’ parties, but by the end of May, something had happened that made me realize that social life was actually in my DNA. I was too eager to put myself out there that it started to burn me out. I forgot that before coming to Seattle, I’ve always only had a close friends’ circle and never really enjoyed big parties and social events. I changed the way I interacted with the world because I felt moving to Seattle and working this new job also demanded a change in my personality. At some point, I forgot who I really was.

June: Stress.

It wasn’t obvious to me at the time, but this is where reflection becomes really important — it helps me see things that I just failed to see at the moment. In June, I started to struggle with mood swings and weight issues. I wasn’t sure why. I gained weight in a very short period, which is very, very unusual for my body. I started doing yoga, exercising like crazy, but it wasn’t helping. I remember looking at my photos and going, “oh my gosh, what happened to me?” Now I finally realized that it was due to stress.

July: Dance. Dance. Dance.

Not everything was bad though. One of the best things that happened to me this summer, was that I was offered a part-time job to teach at a dance studio. I’ve been a hip-hop dancer since I was a teenager, and teaching has always been my passion and dream job. I found out about this studio in Seattle and interviewed for the job. I was told that I could teach my first class right away. It was a magical moment for me. In July I taught my first three classes, and the reviews were raving! Students loved me, and my fellow teachers and some students became really good friends of mine. Taking this job was the best decision I’ve made since I came to Seattle.

August: Acceptance.

This was the month my life was starting to get back on track. In social life, I started to recognize the people that I’d like to have in my close friends’ circle. Instead of just throwing myself into a crowd and trying to look extroverted and overly confident, I spent more time with people I felt relaxed being around with. I no longer felt the need to interact with people all the time and it made me feel calmer inside. Looking back, I think I just started to feel “accepted” by Seattle.

September: Take care of yourself.

September was a lot of traveling. It actually brought back the stress for me a little bit and my weight started creeping up again. I wasn’t eating properly or sleeping well. Again my body just doesn’t like high-stress levels at all! I guess that’s one thing I learned about myself. This month was also when I started to realize that what my body is telling me, is that I need to invest my time in taking care of myself. That meant I started to meal prep healthy food and do the appropriate amount of exercise. It is SO worth it.

October: Hope.

I felt like my true self again. I started cooking and eating regularly, instead of binge eating and dining out all the time. I started going to bed at regular times, instead of staying up late to attend social events. I started to think about my career and my future more deeply, instead of just trying to impress people. It’s amazing how much things can change once you start doing the things your body actually wants. It will thank you. Both physically and mentally I felt much better. I was also feeling more productive and happier. I remember thinking, “Yes this is the life I want to live. This is where I should be.”

November: Productivity.

When November hit, I started to establish the routine I needed for life. My execution was also excellent. I experimented with time management techniques that really worked. I was just fitting so many things into my schedule and getting so much done. Surprisingly, this highly strict routine made me more chilled as opposed to stressing me out. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to say that a busier schedule is less stressful, but trust me, it’s all about planning. I cut back on the time I spent on socializing by a lot and just focused on listening to what my heart says. I listed out my priorities and made sure that I was spending time on what was truly important. By the end of November, my productivity peaked and I was just achieving so much both at work and in life. I was so proud of myself!

December: Family.

Although I wasn’t wearing out necessarily by December, I felt that I needed a break. I took all my annual vacation time and just spent it with my family. The day before my vacation, I completed a complex and challenging project at work, which I didn’t think I was able to do. I guess you never know where your potential is until you push myself hard! This vacation to me was well-deserved. 2019 was a special year for me. It took me almost the whole year to figure out the kind of person I want to be at this stage in my life, but I ended the year with lots of hope, gratitude, and more importantly, the direction I am moving towards in 2020.

By the time I finish this post, it is already Jan 1, 2020. I spent my morning on the beach by myself, enjoying the view of the water and just thinking. Then I went to Starbucks, my favorite spot on earth, to get my first cup of brewed coffee in 2020. When I got home, I came across a post “What your first sip in 2020 says about you”, and brewed coffee means:

You mean business and are kicking off 2020 with an ambitious list of goals.

Well, Starbucks, I think you’re right.

Let’s go, 2020.

Designer at Amazon. Productivity Nerd. Design Geek.