I'm graduated now.
After the initial shock, I realized I hadn't written a "school-year" reflection piece for a while now -- In fact, I hadn't written a reflection piece in quite some time. I've decided it'd be a good idea for myself to write on my thoughts on self-reflection and how it's affected my life thus far.
I recall that in my college freshman and sophomore years, I followed a strict rule to "always write what I don't want to forget".
This included everything, from small, technical tid-bits or code snippets, to advice from mentors, to even long, insightful movie quotes.
For example, I just watched Rami Malek's Oscar-winning performance in Bohemian Rhapsody and felt compelled to inscribe into my brain the awesome, rainy scene:
Mary had just left Freddie, who finally realize to leave his toxic, leeching relationship with Paul:
You know when you've gone rotten, really rotten? -- fruit flies.
-- Bohemian Rhapsody (2019)
As I entered my junior year and began to tack on more, academically and work-wise: I will never forget what horrible pain it feels like to become burnt-out.
This was the year I learned, the hard way, what happens when I take on a teaching assistantship, upper-level course work, part-time work, as well as an all time-consuming research position.
A picture of where all my time and energy was being sucked into :)
That was by and far the most action-packed adventure I've had in a while, with the key down-side being that at the end of the day, I was so drained that I hadn't the mental capacity to write down any notable reflections, if anything at all.
In retrospect, what is obvious to me now is that I was chewing up way more than I could swallow, merely committing my daily exploration to short-term memory rather than reflecting and digesting upon meaningful long-term lessons.
I will always remember and appreciate the internal pain my transitional time during my freshman year as a testament to the near magic-like human capability for intense perseverance and resilience; but be appreciative for the perspective for moderation.
A week in Europe
This was the first "vacation" in a really long time. I think the last time I took a week off was once during a high-school graduation-prerequisite "outdoor trip", when I went white-water rafting on the Deschutes River with my fellow teenage-angst cohort.
Berlin Catholic Cathedral, Apr. 2019
But when I say as though time had stopped, it was truly humbling to walk amidst hundreds of years of history in the 13th-century "Old City" Tallinn, Estonia🇪🇪; or to stand alongside a late 19th-century Russian naval cannon defending the Sea Fortress of Finland🇫🇮
From seeing how a society manages less than 6 hours of daylight during the winter seasons and 24-hr days during the summer solstice, it made me really empathize with my Uber-driver who also worked as a fulltime Software Engineer when he wasn't splitting time between the ride-sharing Taxi app.
Having been coddled in school and living in my parent's home for my whole life, I had some anxiety in growing up and "adulting", and in particular, living a life outside of school and work. But spending a week outside of the country really helped give perspective.
Overall, I feel a sense of great gratitude to have the freedom to choose my own adventure 🗽
Moving to the big 🍎 has been a sweet treat and a blessed gift.
Living in Seattle for the past many years has been a blessing, and I cannot express my appreciation enough for all the people I've met and the fun adventures I've toured.
Thanks for reading this piece and following along the next chapter of the Adventures of a 🇺🇸🤷🏻♂️.
-- Joseph Z.