So some of you may have heard, simplehoney, the startup I’ve been working for, launched a couple of days ago.
It was an emotional event for the team because we’ve poured in blood, sweat and love but particularly for me, I saw my entire life flash through in my mind.
From the five year old wondering about the meaning of life, to the misunderstood 15 year old flunking her exams because she was too busy making websites, to the angry teen who dropped out of school, to the jaded adult who once gave up on design to work as an adminstrative assistant, to the independent designer who worked purely remotely because she was afraid to meet new people, to the person I am now – watching our twitter stream seeing users tweet about how much they loved our site.
I have come a long way. A long, uncomfortable, painful way actually. Between those past events you have absolutely no idea who much I had to endure having to withstand silent gazes of disappointment and disapproval (because I refused to have a stable job or life, actually) or the teachers who destroyed my self-esteem telling me I was going to be a waste to society (just by having bad grades).
The point of this post, before any misunderstanding, is not to complain about how much I went through, but it is for those of you who know I am talking about, the struggle to grow into your true self, for those young kids who have dreams but have people telling them to stop dreaming – I am writing to all of you out there, hey, it is very much possible to be yourself and still find joy in life.
People say that I am lucky, I tell them I had to break many hearts including my own, I had to be firm on my own beliefs, I had to go through periods of extreme discomfort, to put myself in a position where luck may find me.
You have got to fight for what you want in life, because really, nobody is going to fight for you. You have to be the one believing in your own dream, because if you’re skeptical yourself, how do you ask of someone else to believe in you?
I know whatever we have built has a long way to go, I know this is just the beginning of more blood, tears and sweat, I know this is nowhere remotely near to success, but for someone like me, allow me this moment to take pride in the work I do, in my team and in the product we worked so hard to build.
Allow me this moment to feel the pride when I see our users noticing the little details we have put in, allow me to feel very encouraged because our users seem to understand the problem we’re trying to solve, allow me to indulge in the positive feedback that our users have been sending to us.
All of these is just going to motivate my team and me to do even better, work even harder.
From a personal perspective, I continue to trudge on my long journey, this is a baby step in the overall big picture in my mind – I so desparately want to be the change that I want.
I hope that one day kids like me would have different avenues of learning and not be put down based on their grades, that they will no longer have to go through long periods of their life feeling that they have to pretend to be someone else, that some of my friends who are brilliantly talented will no longer feel like they have to hang on to their jobs which make them dread every single monday morning.
I never thought it was possible, but I feel so alive being in love with my work, my team, my product, my users. It seems like all these blog posts that I used to read with famous people telling us, you got to find what you love to do, and me cynically going yeah, right – I finally understood what these people are talking about.
It wasn’t enough for me to be a designer, I was struggling to find true joy just being a designer, but being a designer working with a team sharing the same vision and values + a product that may be potentially disruptive and at the same time make people happy – I don’t know what else can I ask for, in fact I think this is way beyond my own dreams.
I used to write everywhere in my online profiles that I’m a designer with nomadic tendencies because traveling is not only a hobby, it feels like a lifetime’s calling for me. I have had so many turning points in my life and so many moments of epiphanies on my travels. It makes me feel very blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to work on a product that would aim to bring more smiles to fellow travelers.
Let me take this opportunity to express my gratitude, to my team, my friends and peers who have been very supportive, users who take the time to write feedback for us, and of course my family – they had to smile encouragingly for me when I left even though it was hard for them to have me away.
So many times I had to remind myself that I have to make tradeoffs for the bigger picture in mind, if you were to ask me again, I’ll do it over and over again, because the joy that I feel when I see our users appreciating what we’ve built – priceless.
Thank you, all of you, especially those of you who are long-time readers of my blog, you have been with me through my ups and downs so you would know how much this means to me. 😉
I end this post with a beautiful quote:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain