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writing what you learn

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)


Burnout

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.

first image of a black hole
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 upon and digesting meaningful lasting 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_cathedral
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🇫🇮

helsinki_sea_fortress

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 🗽


New York

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.

From Surround.IO, to Xevo and now CTRL-labs, I'm only excited by the new opportunities to work with cool people, and build cool stuff.

Thanks for reading this piece and following along the next chapter of the Adventures of a 🇺🇸🤷🏻‍♂️.

-- Joseph Z.

Joseph Zhong

Joseph Zhong

“The brick walls give us a chance to show how badly we want something. They stop people who don’t want it badly enough.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

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