Let’s be (extra)ordinary.

Wow. I need to hand it to spontaneity for driving me to plan a trip down to LA with newly made friends and to attend a conference. Outside of study abroad, I have never taken matters into my own hands to travel, attend an event hundreds of miles away. But there was just something… about this conference that nagged at me to come down and to experience this. This was Jubilee Project’s Conference, themed “The Road Less Traveled.”

Now, I thought about detailing the happenings of the conference. Because it was indeed amazing to even interact with the greatest Asian American figures in social endeavors, like Jen Frmheadtotoe, Jeremy Lin, Wong Fu Productions, DANakaDAN… but then a quote from Fung Bros comes to mind: “Average people talk about people, good people talk about events, and great people talk about ideas.” While I met some amazing people and influencers, I think everyone and I myself would benefit a lot more from… the lessons I took away from this day. And I will always remember August 15, 2015, as the highlight as my summer, and the day that I found myself turning on my head and breaking out of my meager worldly shell. But for the sake of consistency, I will talk about these lessons chronologically as they occurred in the conference.

  1. Encourage. It is in community we will find courage. -Jason Y. Lee

Encourage comes from French. encorager, which comes from en + curage, which is “in courage.” Nowadays, we are supposed to encourage one another, and that facilitates community and bonding. And nowadays, everyone talks about how they are trying to muster up the courage to go against the norm, to swim against the current, to pursue their wildest dreams without fearing the consequences. But the only way we can really find courage is through community.

What this means to me: This summer has been a time where I’m trying to figure out or at least get a better idea of what I would like to do for my career. Funnily, maybe because it is tech, but I have been told by full-time employees, people who have walked many different paths before coming here, that the #1 factor of choosing what to do and where to work is the people. Not the mission, the people. The tech industry provides that flexibility, but it always seemed so backwards to me: even if I enjoyed the company of the people, why would I want to work for a mission that I don’t really care about? But at JP, I realized that I need to surround myself around the people who will be real with me, the people who will encourage me to pursue the goals that I want to pursue. That was also the appeal of JP to me: everyone was so warm and good-hearted. If I am able to surround myself with people like them… I would be able to stretch my mind to think the incredible and (re)discover my passion. I believe we all have passions, but for a lot of us, these passions have been buried by norms, stereotypes, and fear. While it is never too late, I want to find my passion ASAP and have the courage, gaining that courage from my loving community, to chase after it.

2. Worldly goals… are so fleeting. -Jeremy Lin

Now here is someone who keeps it real. In today’s fast-paced world, we are always thinking of the next goal, the next hoop we have to jump through. Some examples are that college we need to get into, that grade we need to get, that job we need to get… But then what happens when we get it? Goals like those are grasped onto and they simply… vanish into thin air. Worldly goals should not be what we are living for. What is success to you? Is it money? Is it having a loving family? Chances are… you will be happy with that but you won’t feel satisfied or fulfilled. So I encourage you to sit down and think about what success is and how you can mold your journey in life towards that goal.

What this means to me: This was something I was aware of… but it was a good reminder because it has been nested in the back of my head. It is so so hard to be conscientious of this when everyone is abuzz about recruitment, achieving the grades in classes, asking that boy/girl out on a date… These aren’t things that don’t necessarily add substance to my life. And worldly goals tend to become very very self-centered. I myself need to take the time to think about what success means to me, regardless of any worldly burdens. So stop being so hung up on getting that job, getting into that school… There are so many more important visions to be working towards and it is a waste of my ability and my gifts.

3. Happiness is not tantamount to joy. Because regardless of what happened today, there’s still JOY. -Jeremy Lin

Society nowadays is so obsessed with finding happiness. For many, success is happiness. But can you name instances where you thought you would be happy, and you WERE happy but you did not feel joy? You didn’t feel fulfilled? I’m sure you can. The end goal should not be happiness.

What this means to me: God’s grace fills this world. I feel it in stories exchanged, thanks given, appreciation filling the rooms. I need to proactively listen to God because He absolutely did not place me on this world to just… be happy. He did not place me on this world just to be successful. He placed me here with a plan that I use my gifts to empower the next generation and the greater community. This lesson is a bit sparse compared to the others because I still need to think about what joy means to me. This was the lesson that made me step back in surprise. Because I always thought happiness and joy were synonymous…

4. All you need is 1 word to become your intent. -Peter Chung

Now this was a cool exercise. Think of a word that you aspire towards, a word that will be your goal. Go and have a conversation with someone about this. And the person you are conversing with should be questioning you as to why you chose that word, how you intend to achieve it, how this will change inspire growth and fulfillment. Chances are, you will end up changing your word.

What this means to me: At the conference, Peter was selling bracelets that would contain the word of your intent, the idea being that you literally WEAR that word on your wrist as a constant reminder of how to live. You guessed it, my word changed. I started off with the word “passion.” Because for me, I always find myself short of that fire that keeps me up late at night working on something, that fire that drives me nuts when I don’t have it… But as I conversed with someone about this, I realized that oftentimes, people just happen to stumble upon what becomes their passion. They do need to persevere at it, which is something that my school does not tend to advocate. They always encourage exploring one’s options, taking advantage of all the resources, talks, and interactions with famous figures in this world… but they NEVER encourage us to reflect upon these lessons and to interpret the lessons of these people for our own lives. (I can go more into this, but this is a whole other conversation for later) While they do need to persevere at it, they were able to muster up the courage to try something new or to allow an old passion to rekindle itself. “Perseverance” and “confidence” came to mind, but those tend to be words that are used to advocate going after a dream and sticking with it. I wanted the word I wear on my wrist to be striking and immediately remind me of its intent. Now, on my wrist I’m wearing “daring.” One can argue that this is totally out of character of me, and that is true! I’m definitely someone who, while she thinks a lot about breaking the shell and criticizes the norms, submits to the safe route, that main road. But by being daring, I want to gain that courage to try out something that may seem wild at the time, but is really just a restart of an old enjoyment. By doing so, I want to reach that ultimate goal of having a passion that I’m wildly chasing after, almost addicted to.

5. How do you achieve clarity? Through relationships, blessings, traveling, and pain. -Dave Gibbons

Relationships go back to encouragement. You want to build a community around yourself that will be supportive and welcoming. You want to have a community that inspires you to be the best you that you can be! Blessings are two parts: seeing people, and knowing people. When is the last time you were seen by someone? …Think about that. When is the last time you really saw someone? We all have eyes and we look, but we never really see. We are so self-absorbed, we are the stars of our own show, and we actually don’t take the time to see who is around us, believe it or not. We need go see people with intent, and then we need to get to know people. Knowing people comes with listening; again, we can hear what people are saying, but it means nothing unless we are listening. Listening means absorbing their stories, and thinking about how what you just heard from this insightful person can be applied to your life, and how you would like to make those small changes in your life. Traveling is a great way to gain a wider perspective on life and the world. The best part of it it putting yourself outside of your comfort zone because oftentimes you will find yourself to be comfortable and at a loss of what you need to work towards. As for pain, this is another way of saying to be vulnerable. What makes you feel excruciating pain? What conditions/issues/events make you queasy and feel so so wronged? Pain is the best platform for power. Pain is the greatest reminder of why you do what you do. If you think about not being able to achieve your goal and you don’t feel deep pain, maybe there is something else that is worth your time and that is worth being your goal.

What this means to me: A lot of us, including myself, are missing clarity. Especially with social media and the world being more connected than ever, there is just so much noise around us, it is easy to lose track of what your purpose on Earth is. I do believe I am here to achieve something much greater than myself, and I need to make small but proactive changes to my life. I always make the excuse that I need to have alone time, being an introvert and all, but alone time should not be driven by comfort. I need to reach out to people, get to know them, hear about their deepest motivations. I also need to meet a diverse set of people; if I find myself surrounded by such a homogenous group of people, I can’t find my true intent and clairty. I have found that traveling is so incredibly effective after studying abroad. I cannot let myself get comfortable; I need to push myself to try living in other places. I think staying in the area I grew up in for the summer was a nice change in pace, but next year, I really should not allow myself to be in the Bay Area. Other than the crying in movies when a couple breaks up or when someone makes a meaningful sacrifice, I have found that very little has made me feel so much pain. I need to actively seek out that pain…which sounds so wrong. But the way I see it, a fire is always gasping for air, it is snatching at those oxygen particles in order to stay alive–in that same way, I want to be gasping for air and be driven crazy after a goal even bigger than myself.

6. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. -Jason Y. Lee

I think we often forget that people like the speakers at this conference… are truly revolutionary. And I think that we often want to follow their footsteps because their work sounds fun. Making YouTube videos must be fun. Social media as a job must be fun. But the reality is… there is so much work and so much struggle. Just like sheep, we often flock together towards the shepherd, the prominent figures in tech, government, social media, entertainment. But why should we follow the convention? These people honestly truly stood out because they were able to do the impossible of their times. If we want to be truly innovative and feel fulfillment, we need to think outside the box. And sometimes people think that they can’t reach that level because they “aren’t good enough.” They don’t know enough to be able to make a difference. Don’t you dare settle for less. You all have the ability and the power to do extraordinary things. I believe we are all fully equipped especially in today’s society when information is so easily accessible and it is so simple to connect to the people we need to be connected with at the click of the mouse. It’s a matter of believing.

What this means to me: Honestly, I always think I’m kinda sorta thinking outside of the box. But I’m learning that the box is a lot bigger than I think it is. As I try to break out of my shell, I keep holding onto that one post of security and comfort. I actually went and talked to Jason afterwards, and he wrote me a message: You are meant to live for something extraordinary. Never stop living for something GREATER! I really want to think upon this, because I do think I believe that I can do so much more than I am doing right now. Mind you, I’m still in school…. but why is that an impediment? It really isn’t! I need to ponder upon what I can do for the community because it is absolutely pointless to say that I want to make a difference in the world. It starts from something small, and it can be built upon and become a great goal.

7. Live for something greater. -Jason Y. Lee

I already touched upon this in the previous lesson, but it is so true. What is the point of living for the next goal that is totally attainable? Children in that sense… are so amazing because they are so pure and their imagination runs so wild. Why is that beauty tamed and whipped into shape so that as teenagers and adults, they are so terrified of failure and reaching that dream? Why is doing an art, why is being a police officer so far-fetched? ….It isn’t. Accept it. Embrace it. At the same time, we become so engrossed in trying to break away from influences and we start wanting to chase after something that will make us happy. But happy is NOT the same as being fulfilled! To find something that you love doing is a great goal that many people cannot achieve, but always be mindful that that should not be the end goal. Because you could probably be using that gift and that passion towards something bigger than yourself. We all totally have a calling to do more for our communities and to give back to this beautiful world, and it is a pity that we become so self-centered. Go live for something greater than yourself.

What this means to me: I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend. As children of immigrant parents, we have similar family situations. Our parents were not able to achieve their wildest dreams because of lack of resources and opportunities. And so they have shifted their attention to being the best parents so that their children  have the foundation to achieve whatever they can… But then our parents slowly submit to fear about their children not living well and being miserable. So they again change their focus to getting us into top universities, to pushing us to be a doctor, lawyer businessman, anything that provides a stable income to live a comfortable happy life… But as we are not able to achieve our own wildest dreams, we end up shifting our focus to having that stable income to help our own children… it becomes a cycle! Ridiculous right? Our parents, and we, don’t realize that we are the generation of millenials. We live in such a different world and in a different time. Honestly, whatever we want…. CAN BE ACHIEVED. That doesn’t mean it won’t be HARD and DIFFICULT, but it can be achieved unlike our parents’ time. We really shouldn’t settle for less, and I don’t intend to! I also knew that I always had a higher calling, a calling to help people. I hope that… in whatever I do, I am able to help people. I don’t find fulfillment in working at a company and working towards… greater profit. It drives me nuts because I feel like right now, I am working towards helping the privileged become more privileged and helping the company earn more money to do more of whatever they want to do 😛 Regardless of whatever people say about a company, its doom to fail, or my doom to fail, whatever! As long as I find meaning and I believe that I am helping people through my craft… That’s all that matters.

8. Take the road less traveled. -Jason Y. Lee

And now we come to the theme of the conference. I feel like we always envision this fork in the road to be a momentous occasion… but that is not true. Everyday, we are finding ourselves at forks, no matter how small or miniscule they may seem. While some decisions may be easy, I encourage you to really think about why you chose that road, why you are executing that action. Chances are, the road less traveled is better suited, and it will definitely be scary! But what is life but not an adventure?

What this means to me: I definitely disregard some decisions just because I think they are obvious. But a lot of times, the decisions are not that obvious. They only seem obvious because that is how society deems them to be. I hope every minute of my life is spent deliberately and with purpose. I also believe that God talks to me through gut feelings. But society advocates for logic and rationale, and sometimes the actions I take stem from using my head. But I hope I can be daring, which is my intent, and act upon my gut feelings to take that road that will indeed be less traveled.

#JubileeConference15 Thank you for an experience where I found myself in a whirlwind of emotions. I found myself inspired, empowered, and rejuvenated. One of my greatest fears is being so small compared to my potential, and this was an incredible event that was mind-blowing to say the least, encouraging me to just do it! I am so thankful to be a part of the Jubilee Project family.

Now, one last exercise that I encourage you to do with friends, family, or even by yourself. (Credits to Jason Y. Lee) Close your eyes. Think about that road less traveled in your life. Think about the path that you so dearly yearn for but also terrifies you so much. Now shoot ahead ten years. Cars are flying, technology has advanced like it does in science fiction. The impossible has been attained. It is REAL. And you yourself are so incredibly successful and ten years ago, you mustered up the courage to tread that road less traveled and you finally achieved it! …What are you doing now? What would you tell your 10-year-younger self?

Let’s surround ourselves with the right people. Let’s support each other. Let’s be wild again like children and conjure up those old crazy dreams of ours. Let’s… take the road less traveled.


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