This morning being inspired by Tobias van Schneider, I plan to only jot down some thoughts before the year ends. Don’t know why it turns into a piece of writing more than 2000 words.

1. Failing spectacularly

I think I lived up to the AI stand 1415 by being brave.

I had the first thought of running for PAI a week or so after being elected as MCP. The blurred and faded snapshots of my memory could not point out exactly where the hell the idea originally came from. In hindsight, I am very grateful that it happened.

For one year, I stretched myself intellectually by doing the homework of reading a total of 78 books (even though 36 out of that were only Blinkist summary, I overachieved Mark Zuckerberg’s reading challenge), 120 HBR issues (year 2004 — 2014) with every article analysed and categorised and at least 3650 articles of different topics on Twitter (10 per day added up to quite a huge number). I was 100% sure that I could not really understand or apply those theory into practice yet, but at least I made myself knowledgeable.

For one year, I got my mind strengthened. There were so many days that I managed to have 6 meetings in a row. MC team, CC team, OC team, LCP commission, BoA, AI, MCP fellows, ESC, national partners, governmental departments then friends and families. Well social interactions tired me out, but at the end of the day I was still able to inch towards the goal as those people were the greatest source of feedback (sometimes criticism), advice (sometimes order) and support (sometimes burden) I could ever have. Oh did I mention that I fought better stage fright by not making excuses to reject speaking opportunities?

At the end I managed to fail spectacularly, which helped me further in realising that the growth of me, or this organisation both need time to get solid, and having an ambitious goal does inspire big actions and tremendous efforts.

2. Self-blaming

Not being able to obtain the license of GYS 2015 resulted in a big loss, more than anyone else I felt an extreme guilt towards the entity and AIESEC network. Not many people know that I was scared as well, because for such a long time I could not pinpoint my key mistake from that mess. I was very determined to find out whether I was arrogant, or ignorant or simply stupid. I did not mind facing with the worst answer, as it could still relieve and push me forward.

I remember myself going through every GYS-related email conversation and evaluated every decision made in different times. I remember many hours spent asking for feedbacks from alumni, advisors and mentors. However I know what people said were only their perspectives, the one that got involved from the beginning to the end and dealt with every single stakeholder in the picture was me, and only me.

But it is only until recently, I have managed to put the full stop to this self-blaming things. I can now separate the avoidable mistakes made within my responsibility and the unstoppable mistakes caused by the existing system. And I laugh at myself for overestimate my power to influence things, which is as stupid as saying “because of me Vietnam’s GDP only grow 6% in 2015″. My CCP you should feel the same thing.

3. Life After AIESEC

Man, life after AIESEC is just so hard. Around April I started to have the societal pressure of finding the next step. I connected my dots in different ways and resulted in different choices.

First I applied to be executive assistant of a CEO in a securities corporation in HCMC, but they did not even respond to my application. Then I applied to be consultant in agricultural sector but they turned me down after three interviews, saying that my understanding about the industry was not up to their expectations. I also tried an GIP from AIESEC in Japan but they simply preferred native English speaker for the position of Garden Designer.

My mentor once advised me not to waste so much time for decision making but it seemed I went too far by making rushing career choices 🙂 At least the universe tried its best to give me rejection signs.

4. Farming in Japan

The white struck full of tea fukuro, ready to go home!

3 months doing tea farming in Wazuka, a small farming town with the population of less than 5000 people, lies in the south of Kyoto Prefecture (Japan). I was responsible for cleaning weeds, cutting bamboos, harvesting tea, putting fertilizer and selling tea in different festivals. It was hard and steady work from 9–5 but I did enjoy it very much and gradually understood why one can work as farmer for his whole life.

On a weekly basis, I went to Wazuka Junior High School to join classes. This activity was coordinated between E-WASA and the school principal office with the purpose of creating international environment within the school and understanding how different Japanese education system compared to other countries.

Before returning to Vietnam, I was asked to deliver a speech in the school where I shared my realisations after living and working in a rural area. The following passage is a part of that speech.

“When I walk on the streets, I can smile and say “Konnichiwa” to people I meet, even though I don’t know them before. When I go to public bath, I can talk to the old grandmas and wish them good night. When I have free time, I go to neighbour’s house to pick up kaki or cook a dinner with them. These small things help me to understand that the most important thing in life is not about having more money or become a big boss, but how you treat people with kindness, care and honesty”

5. Dream and Reality

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. — Steve Jobs

Acting on this advice, I immediately give up Finance / Consulting and go back to a decision I made in 2013 which is to become a UX designer. It always takes some time to explain what UX is to my friends, let alone my parents and cousins. But then I remember people never actually got what I was doing during AIESEC years. So it would be the same.

UX perfectly fits what I can do & what I love to do

Unfortunately, there exists a gap and I would need to wait for a year or two before officially making the switch. However this actually turns out to be good, as I want to know whether this dream would be easily buried by life reality and people’s expectations on me or not.

6. Creating Impact

Many friends of mine are doing charity trips but I have never joined them. The minor reason is that I do not favour donation. The major reason, which I just find out recently, is that my life has been disconnected with people in needs and I simply do not care enough about things happening around me to feel sympathy.

When I decide to pursue UX design career, I picture one day I can build a studio similar to IDEO: using design to create better life experiences. Now realising that for such a long time I just look but not see, listen but not understand the world, I feel shameful.

Last week one of my LCPs asked me if I would want to join Forbes $1 million changing the world competition. My mind went blank not knowing what kind of social problem I want to address, how much I personally feel connected with those who suffer and can I really stand in their shoes to understand their world.

Too late to seek for an answer in 2015, I would leave this responsibility to 2016. Go, visit different places, talk to different people and get involved with different NGOs. Observe, not only problems of scarcity but also high-class problems resulted from the abundance of material things and modern problems resulted from advanced technology and industrialisation.

7. Time Spent Alone

Manga: This year I managed to find the complete manga series “Go Yawara!” and “Shana oh Yoshitsune” on the Internet. How many more years it would take before I can read the ending of “Detective Conan”, “Glass Masks” and “Ouke no Monshou” then?

Book: From November — December, I was so absorbed in reading “Ngạo Thế Cửu Trọng Thiên” and believe it or not, this book conveyed leadership and life lessons much better than “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie). If you were able to go to someone’s house and see their entire bookshelves, you *might* get a sense of them as a person. But I bet it would be difficult in my case where it is super chaotic when it comes to book genres.

Music: 2015 is the year of major decisions. I subscribed to both Spotify and Apple Music, moved the whole music library to iCloud and said bye-bye to iPod Classic. And major events:

Jay Chou got married to Hannah Quinlivan and they now has a daughter called Hathaway. It is confirmed that Jay is coming back to Singapore in September 2016 (well already 3 years since Opus concert 2013).

Super Junior celebrated their 10 year anniversary with 10-track album “Devil”. There were rumours that “Super Show 6 Encore” in Seoul their last concert.

Some of my favourite albums in 2015: Alive (Tim McMorris), Talkie Walkie (Air), Greatest Hits (Def Tech), Nine Track Mind (Charlie Puth), X (Ed Sheeran), FF7 OST (Various Artists), Title (Meghan Trainor), Where Dreams Begin (The Secession), Believe (Che’nelle).

Most played song is Move Forth (The Secession) with 179 times. On repeat every time I go for a run.

Alive (2014 — TimMcMorris) is my most favourite album. Shazamed the background music of Giordano CF and it turned out to be the track “It’s a beautiful day”

8. Friends and Family

Many close friends of mine chose 2015 to get married. One of them already had their first child therefore I got promoted to be auntie!

After the term I had a great deal of time to spend with family and I would love to continue doing this in the years to come.

9. Legos

Hello people, I would try to be honest. The leftover of some bad feelings were still dominating for several months after the term. But no worries I digest them all and start to miss the time we were together. “Thank you” would not be enough to describe how much I treasure the experiences. You are the ones that bend and shape me so much in 2015. I’m heavily indebted therefore we must see each other again so that I can pay it back.

10. Me

It is amazing realising that I’m turning 26 soon, already halfway through the 20s journey. And I just love it (★^O^★)

I think I’m getting a bit more mature in some aspects. Defining maturity is hard, but is it about being more responsible with yourself, with people around you and with this world? Is it about trying to widen your worldview and seek to understand people? Is it about getting more controlled of yourself and at the same time living true to your wishes?

I get to know myself better and embrace the dark and negative side. Because no matter how hard I try to deny, that’s a part of my characteristics and it makes me human. I would not try to get rid of the feeling of jealousy or label me lazy before getting to understand why I think and behave in such a way.

2015 was really fantastic. Thank you!

Featured Image Credit: Pantone Color 2015 Marsala