Hard Work is the only Option

The solution to my anxiety issues, and the answer to the tangible results I wish for my future. It’s hard work. To me, this means to practice programming every day, to get in consistent workouts throughout the week, and to nurture existing and new relationships. My desire to make something out of what has been given to me gets me up in the morning. I want to work hard, and try to learn something everyday, because I know my time on this Earth is limited.

I have found that when I am without well thought-out goals, my mind drifts from one subject to another, never spending too much time learning the intricacies of any one subject. I would sometimes think about the meaning of life and existence in general, which I am  now convinced is a silly and lazy pursuit. Time is better spent trying to help others using your unique skill-set.

I’ve been tracking my routine’s consistency with a whiteboard on my wall. It’s been 1.5 months since it’s inception, and I’ve noticed an improvement in my ability to work harder and more efficiently in the three main categories listed: Health, Career, Relationships. I am motivated to push myself in all three aspects partly due to the fear of logging my failure on my board. I’d much rather see check marks denoting success, than the dreaded X’s of failure.

In the past, I would not work as diligently as I do now because I was afraid that there might be a better, more efficient way to deal with a given problem. Instead of beginning to tackle a problem, I would trick myself into inaction for months on end. My quest to optimize myself into a perfect-being consumed me, and instead of making small steps toward progression, I was at an indefinite halt in many areas of my life. I often catch the mental chatter going on in my head now when in the process of decision-making. I notice usually two choices: the lazy answer which relates to instant gratification or a better long-term answer. I’m working on taking on the latter more often.

I don’t regret a single thing about my past either, it shaped me into who I am now. I take note of my past experiences, realize my current situation, and move forward given the opportunities that are available to me. My perception of the world controls the opportunities that I see, so it is in my best interest to nurture that perception through forms of good health, long-term career choices, and fruitful relationships.

Pound for Pound best MMA fighter in the world, arguable greatest of all time beat Anderson Silva’s record for most title defenses (11) tonight at UFC 216: Las Vegas making UFC history. 


The Grind

Social media allows for us to share our life’s experiences with others. While there is nothing wrong with showcasing these “defining moments” of our lives on Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms, we should all realize that these snippets are only windows into our lives. We don’t get to see the whole picture, only what the user decides he/she will show.

We often don’t think about or understand the process it took for those pictures to make their way onto our screens. A perfect example would be a video of a large set of dominos falling down. We see the end result, but have very little idea as to how long of a process the set-up took unless we’ve done a similar task.

I refer to these sorts of “setups” as “the grind.” “The grind” involves how you spend your time when you are tired. Do you hang the gloves and call it quits, or do you push on for another round? What about after that round? How do you react in the face of adversity? I think we should never cheat ourselves, and we should constantly be looking to press our limits so that we can grow. (Extreme Example: David Goggins)

Personally, a good example would be during a workout. For me, the biggest challenge I get is when I am trying to do as many push-ups as possible. I’ll get to around the 65-70rep mark, and I notice my mind telling me to quit. “You’re tired Paul, stop!” The voice appears every time. If I ignore this thought,  I noticed that I can consistently push out another ~10 reps. I realized that the only way I could know my limit is to continue on past the doubt until my arms are physically incapable of holding my body up. I don’t stop until my chin hits the floor. This has been my routine. I just need to apply this mindset to other areas of my life now!

With practice and repetition, we can slowly but surely chisel our minds and our bodies into the best versions of ourselves. The grind might include blood, sweat, and tears, but these are necessary. The end result is a thing of beauty.



Embrace the grind 🙂




To be master of one, or jack of all trades? This has been the question I’ve been trying to answer to since the beginning of my undergraduate experience. There are a multitude of things to consider when trying to formulate a response to this question. I look into my past, and try to call upon experiences of timelines where I find myself losing sleep over one or a few important ideas. The first instance of this was during my early middle-school days, where I would skip meals to develop games of my own. That one idea would shift as I grew older- from person-to-person, into a career path. It has always been progress, and I am always at the height of this ever-present progress.

There are very few instances where I am lost in one thing over a long period of time. For many reasons, I have a strong tendency to dip my feet into something and quickly lose interest. I’ve made note of this, and made adjustments to combat this mostly through means of meditation and harvesting ideas from the mentors that I have access to both in-person, and online.

Something I have recently noted is the immense amount of courage it takes to try and develop a small handful of skills and interests in a world full of distraction and a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities.

I’ve been meaning to strongly give definition to these things, but I am currently still in the works of figuring out how many things I can tackle on at a given time. I think this is perfectly good, as I am still in the formative years of my life. I believe I should be exposing myself to as many things I can, so I can decide which of these things I wish to spend the rest of my life with. This list is extremely preliminary, and will be made finer as I develop a stronger understanding of my increasing skillset and interests, but it is my attempt to iron out some constants I wish to see in my future.

  1. Software Engineering. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs with this all-encompassing field of study. I began with this major because many told me it was a “logical” choice, but I have recently developed a higher interest in mastering my skills as a developer. I notice a direct relation between understanding software at a higher level and making logical decisions in my life.
  2. Relationships. I’ve struggled to open up to my peers at an emotional level. I’ve struggled with being the person I think people will accept versus who I really am. Granted, we are all not always the same versions of ourselves, I have since made it a point to be more honest with myself and others. I often dwell on this short, but effective quote by Napoleon Hill that helps me to be the best version of myself. “Ask yourself, Am I the kind of person I would like to have as a friend?” 
  3. Martial Arts. The most recent interest of mine. I’ve been a fan of the UFC for a few years now, and made the choice to take on formal instruction 2 months ago. I have noticed increase in confidence and much-needed humility from Muay Thai. I will continue to pursue Muay Thai and another form of ground fighting martial arts (BJJ) to mesh together a practical combination of self-defense techniques.
  4. Writing/Reading. To give myself the freedom and clarity of expressing emotion through words. To develop my vocabulary so that I don’t fall victim to a swelling discomfort that stems from the inability to express emotions through words. I believe there being a practicality to being able to speak well, so I will look to the skills I develop from reading/writing to translate into my skills as a conversationalist.

A cold shower made me write this

I woke up this morning and immediately dreaded the day ahead of me. I had logged a mere 4 hours of work in the last couple of weeks. I was scared to show my face at work. Granted, I was on break, but today is Thursday, and I still hadn’t stepped foot in work. My boss is Judith Olson, a mentor to Larry Page, co-founder at Google- so I want to make a good impression. He praises her by saying her class was the one that had the most impact on him as a student. I had boarded the train of procrastination, that would cause me unnecessary stress for an extended period of time. I told myself that perhaps I would come in next week, or log my hours over the weekend. Then I remembered I had signed up for a hackathon, which is a 3-day long event over the weekend, so this was not possible.

To my credit, I am glad that I was able to muster up the willpower to get through my morning meditation. After, I lay in bed for half an hour, worrying about all that could go wrong today. It seemed like today had all the signs of a bad day, but I knew that as soon as I acknowledged this, it would most likely be one. In an attempt to stop the negative chatter, I hastened my way into my bathroom. I turned on a nice tune, and immersed myself in the form of a cold shower. New mind chatter: “Fuck fuck fuck. Cold cold cold. LET’S GO! Today is going to be great fucking day!” I present to you the magic of an icy cold shower that has the potential to jolt you with positivity.

I thought about how much that cold shower lifted my spirits. I raced out the shower and spent time cooking a hearty meal that would  help kickstart my day in addition to the cold shower.

I made my way to work after class. I should have been unemployed a month and a half ago, but I was successful in asking for an employment extension, so that I could finish up the work I set out to do. In hindsight, I can give thanks to my effort to ask for an extension, otherwise I would have had no income for quite some time. Well done, Paul. After a good 3 hours of work, I asked to speak with Judy. In my head, I came up with an elaborate speech that would explain my few hours of work. “I was sick, on vacation, blah blah blah.” When I saw her I came to my senses and decided I wouldn’t give her any excuses. No one likes to hear excuses. People also tend to emphasize problems without providing any solutions. This is not ideal.

My employment contract was set to end next week(problem), so I told her I would do everything in my power to finish what I had set out to do. If not, I was going to tell her I would work for free until my job was done (my solution).

She cut me off, laughed and told me not to worry about it. Judy told me I should try and finish my work, but that I could take a couple more weeks if I had to(Judy’s solution). She was so nonchalant about the whole thing and suggested I take extra time. This was something I’ve been worrying about often, for many weeks. I was afraid something bad would happen, and this was due to poor planning. It was a silly fear that dissipated in less than a minute of conversation. It was a moment of weakness that caused my procrastination to create a month of unwanted stress(problem). It wasn’t too much stress, but it definitely occupied an unnecessary amount of headspace.

We often suffer more in imagination, than in reality 


I had been working with her and her husband for over a year, and I had already got much work done. In the past, I spent time with them at their home, they took me out for champagne on a boat, and treated me to fine-dining. It was foolish for me to have the fears I had. This was a mistake that cost me a bit of stress, but something I can learn from. I could have relinquished these fears with an earlier e-mail, or simply put in more work hours.

Procrastination tends to have these sorts of snowball effects. What may initially start as a small issue, might grow exponentially over time. It is in our best interest to handle these things as they come to the best of our ability. To do otherwise would be masochistic.

To fix my issue of procrastination, I’ve turned to using multiple scheduling tools. Recently, a friend of mine recommended Wunderlist, which allows for you to set due dates and reminders with an extremely minimalistic and simplified interface. I have down all the due dates of my projects, midterm and final dates, among other things on Wunderlist. I also use Momentum to list the one big task I wish to accomplish every day, on top of writing it down in my physical notebook. It also offers  a breathtaking view every time I open up a new tab.

It’s the first week of school, and it is good to be reminded again on the importance of timing and preparedness. Let us learn from our mistakes of the past and move forward methodologically. Let us set clear well-defined goals, so that we are not misguided. Let us switch angles in a timely manner, when change is necessary. Let us understand the things we can change, and understand the things outside of our control. Let us not stress about those things outside of our control.

“What gets measured gets managed”

Peter Drucker

Bad Guys

We rarely ever think of ourselves as the “bad guys.” It’s quite easy for us to find the fault in others, and often difficult to paint ourselves with a negative mark. This is where the saying, “ignorance is bliss” may hold true. Some have never even thought that they could be the culprits they themselves so harshly judge. I am here to tell you that you are a bad person (we all are), but not all the time! 🙂

There are many dangers associated with negative introspection. The obvious problem is that we may find ourselves focusing on only the negatives, and fail to realize that our imperfection is our way of life. We are all walking contradictions, and it is our duty to accept our weaknesses and focus on our strengths. It can be the cause of depression and suicidal thoughts, but we must accept that we make mistakes because we are human. This is great. We can learn from them!

The awareness factor is key as it all ties into the Law of Attraction that I wrote about in my previous post. Your reality is a byproduct of your thoughts. Let’s fight our human-nature of focusing on the negatives and focus on positive things. Try practicing gratitude every morning and/or night by wishing happiness for 3 people in your mind.

This is what I believe to be the issue with those who desire a constant stream of happiness. It is a paradoxical way of thinking. Happiness does not exist without sadness. It takes courage to expose oneself to things that may bring great sorrow or ecstatic happiness. The difficulty comes from relishing in these moments of happiness and sorrow. This means to be present and to let out the emotions as they come and not bottle them up for a disaster in the future.


“The word happiness would lose meaning if it were not balanced by sadness” 

-Carl Jung


Law of Attraction

It was one of the first recurring themes I learned about during the start of my personal development journey nearly two years ago. It was a concept I could understand, but had difficulty understanding it’s presence in my life.

All that has been cleared now, as I have found the more I focused on the things I cared about, the more I found amazing people appear before me.

Without looking up any definitions, I’ll state what I believe to be the Law of Attraction that you may hear about from famous philosophers or writers. I think it is difficult to understand these things when under the context of nebulous terms such as “energy” or “spirit.” I favor simplicity, and like Scott Adams, I believe the best writing is one that is easy to understand and without clutter.

The LoA is a thing that governs all of our actions. It begins with the thought that is placed into our heads. Now thoughts come and go as they please, and other thoughts either nudge us to act on a thought, or to dismiss it until it is gone or comes again. These thoughts that make it through our first line of defense, begin to form into new things called habits. These habits begin to manifest into our lives, and form the basis of what we call reality. I don’t claim this to be my own idea, I know I’ve come upon this sort of definition in some sort of philosophical medium in the past.

With this knowledge, we have developed a heightened sense of awareness. We know that our thoughts govern our realities. The next logical step is to nurture our thoughts so that we pump out higher quality realities. Tony Robbins talks about the importance of priming your state so that you are in peak mental condition to form good thoughts. B.J. Novak considers being in a good mood is the most important part of his creative process. The example of avoiding buying groceries when hungry comes to mind. You are in a lesser state when hungry and sleepy, so you should aim to heighten your state before making decisions.

My 2016 in review

I sat in my bathtub today reflecting on all the things that happened this year. I was born on February 16, 1994. 2/16/94 and the year 2016? It would be no coincidence that this year would be especially special.

I began my year with a trip to Lake Tahoe with a good group of close friends. We spent our days at a cozy cabin doing snow activities during the day and going out to SnowGlobe at night (rave in the snow!).

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Lake Tahoe, CA. Our cabin! 1/1/16

The next couple of days were spent in the spirit of recovery after a grueling 9 hour drive trip and the accumulation of all the rigorous dancing that had taken place during the nights.

The winter quarter had begun to start, but I was taking this quarter off to go work abroad in Argentina! I had 2 weeks before my trip began, so I spent a week with my roommates and said my farewells to my best buds. I was able to catch my closest friends flaunt their talents in a men’s pageant!

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Irvine, CA. DEM: Gods of Medicine Men’s pageant. 1/11/16

My friends were kind enough to throw me a goodbye dinner! Thanks for buying me dinner My. I would miss them for 2 months, but I found solace in knowing I would see them soon.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I spent my time with my high school friends, I picked up a lost pit-bull puppy on the street, and did some last minute preparation for my first time out of the country in over a decade.

My parents and I arrived at LAX and we said our goodbyes. I was feeling confident and excited for the next 2 months ahead of me. The flight itself was quite rocky with turbulence, and I only had about an hour of shut-eye during the 8 hour flight. I had a whole row to myself which I enjoyed, but I was generally uncomfortable because it had been so long since I last flew. We landed in Lima where I had to wait 6 hours before catching my final plane to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After numerous failed attempts to ask for the WiFi in Spanish(I took 4 years in high-school…), a kind stranger translated for me and we spent some time chatting. She was a resident of Peru, and was headed to LAX where she had a job on a cruise ship. I thanked her for her help and tried to get a couple minutes of sleep before I left the land of the Inca.


Lima, Peru. Alpaca or Llama? 1/23/16

I boarded my 2nd plane which I mistakenly expected to be the same, but it was a lot more cramped than the previous plane. I was scrunched up in the middle of a family, so I asked if I could be moved. I like my private space. Luckily the plane wasn’t full and they directed me towards the back, where I had another row to myself. Jackpot!

I landed in Buenos Aires around 2PM their time. I remember walking out of the airport and thinking: “Wow it’s humid. This is where I’ll be for the next chapter of my life. My parents, relatives, and friends helped fund my trip so I owe it to them to make the most of this experience.” It was about a 20 minute drive to the residence I would stay at, and it was clear my driver did not want to talk with me. I was spending most of my time gazing out the window in amazement anyway, there was a soccer ball for every patch of grass outside.

Omead was the first one in the Sage Corps group that I would meet. He had arrived a couple of hours earlier, and was drenched in sweat when I first met him. He spent his first few hours running around trying to familiarize himself with the area- I thought that was admirable. I took a quick nap and met two other members of our program: Dylan and Adi. I found reassurance in knowing these were the people I would spend my next 2 months with. The four of us went out for dinner at a terrible pizza restaurant and enjoyed good conversation.

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Plaza Italia, Buenos Aires. The boys of the residencia + Sierra. Missing Charlotte and Olivia. 1/31/16

My winter abroad opened my eyes to see the diversity that existed outside my California comfort zone. I got to experience what it was like to work full-time at a startup.

Our startup, Technorides, was run like a family business. All work would promptly halt at 1PM and everyone would sit and eat together like one big happy family. It was difficult to get accustomed to at first due to the cultural differences and the language barrier, but I felt like one of their own after a couple of days. Unlike everyone else from the Sage Corps team, Adi and I were lucky enough to work for the same company. Our co-workers took us out to dinner in Puerto Madero, a waterfront neighborhood that hosts some of the finest restaurants.

The restaurant we went to was special because it turned into a club after dinner hours were over. Waiters and waitresses would come and move the tables away as they blew fog into the restaurant. A disco ball would emerge from the ceiling and the upbeat music began to complement the flashing lights that followed.

On the first of February, a co-worker invited Adi and I to bring friends to a drum show. La Bomba del Tiempo played at the Konex theater every week, and it was always a filled out crowd.

The boys and I wanted to do something special for Carnival. The city of Gualeguaychú was notorious for it’s 24 hr/day party scene during the 4 or 5 days of Carnival. We took a long bus-ride to the city, but the beaches were a 30 minute drive away. Loads of people were waiting at the bus station trying to find a taxi, but we decided we would find an alternate mode of transportation.

Against everything our mother’s would have told us, we hopped into the back of shoddy pick-up truck and paid the driver a couple of bucks to take us to the beach. Vamos!


Gualeguaychu, Buenos Aires. En route to the playa! (Spanish for “beach”) 2/10/16

There were a couple of campsites set out for people to stay overnight with already pitched tents, so we decided to try our luck and stay there. We dropped off our things and made our way to the beach.

It was an amazing experience. The beaches were filled to the brim with people and we made our way to the water. I tried my luck with talking to a couple of Argentine beauties. They were laughing at my broken Spanish and tried to teach me the lyrics to a song that seemed to be on repeat. I don’t remember a single word. My buddies joined us and we enjoyed our time in the muddy waters.

The rest of February was packed! I did a graffiti tour with friends, visited El Ateno (Theater turned into a bookstore), my co-workers surprised me for my birthday, first time I did karaoke, saw a professional tango show at a theater, did a boat tour in the Tigre River (most contaminated river in the world!), and saw my first ever Polo game and horse race.


Palermo, Buenos Aires. Graffiti Tour.   2/13/16


Calle Rivadavia, Buenos Aires. Random church on the way to work. 2/20/16


Reconquista, Buenos Aires. Streets outside my workplace. 2/24/16



Rio Tigre, Buenos Aires. Most contaminated river in the world! 2/21/1

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Reconquista, Buenos Aires. Sunset outside worksplace. 3/2/16

























In March, I booked a flight to Iguazu Falls, a national park with a stunning view of waterfalls. Before we left, we decided we would stop by Casa Rosada (Argentina’s Presidential Office).


Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires. Courtyard 3/3/16

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Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires. 3/3/16

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Iguazu Falls, Misiones. Airborn. 3/4/16











Our Iguazu group checked into the hotel and planned out our trip. We had the option of seeing the falls from both the Argentine and Brazilian side, but we opted to see it from only Argentina’s side. We managed to cross the border to Brazil during our boat tour as well. Getting to the top of the falls was not as draining as I expected. It was a short hike plus a small train ride.

It is often difficult to try to describe the majesty of nature in words. Our group, which I will now refer to as “El Equipo” (Spanish for “the team”), slowly made our way to the main site for viewing the falls. We were crossing bridges where water roared from under. Finally, we got to the main spot.

The thunderous crashing of the millions of gallons of water flowing beneath was an amazing sight to behold and feel. Mist clouds were shot up into the sky due to the strength of the crashing water. I was reduced to feelings of awe and stood gazing into the wonders of the natural beauty before me.

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Iguazu Falls, Misiones. Wow. 3/5/16

“Fuck safety!” That must be what our boat tour guides were thinking when they brought us into the water. About 20 tourists fit into the small motor boats they had in store for us. We were told there was a pleasant surprise towards the end of the boat tour, but were not quite sure what to expected. Our captain steered like a maniac. Think James Bond stealing a speedboat and trying to get away from his enemies. He zig-zagged around rocks and the boat was nearly tipped over because of the angles from which he was moving. I remember thinking this would not be legal back at home because of safety reasons, but it was all the more reason to enjoy the moment. I just hoped I would live to tell my story.


We finally arrived at the bottom of the falls. It wasn’t the bottom from the picture above, but it was still a sight to behold. The crazed captain steered near to the bottom of the falls where the water began to crash and swerved out. He told us to snap a couple of pictures and we would head on back. It was very cool to see the falls from the bottom-up. As he slowly drifted back towards the direction in which we came, he turned 180 degrees and went full speed towards the bottom of the waterfall. “That’s it, goodbye world,” I thought. I braced for impact as I saw we would crash into a rock ahead of us. The crazy captain swerved again, but we found ourselves stuck on top of a rock, and the water from atop was crashing down on everyone’s heads. I couldn’t see for a couple of seconds due to the torrent from the waterfall. I could see that we had gone through where the water was falling and into the area behind it. I heard the boat’s engine struggling to free us from the rocks beneath us as we slowly reversed. I was still in one piece.

The crazy bastard laughed and enjoyed his moment. He turned the boat around and then turned it around again. He fooled us a second time!

It was an amazing thrill and I’m grateful to the crazy captain for the experience.

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Iguazu Falls, Misiones. The boys of El Equipo pre-soak. We went straight into the waterfalls seen behind El Equipo. 3/5/16

We spent the rest of the day with a new friend who shared the same room in our hostel. Mariana spoke English, and was on her way to becoming an anesthesiologist! She spoke to me about the wisdom she accumulated in her 26-27 years of living (forgive me if I’m wrong!) and joined El Equipo for dinner. Mariana and I connected through our shared sense of unusual humor. I began to call her “mama” for the remainder of our time together. I admired that she took her only 2 weeks of vacation all year on a solo trip to Iguazu.

After exploring the falls, we wanted to see what else Iguazu had to offer. We took a bus into the city to explore our options and decided on a bike tour.

Thought: I can’t believe how great of a time these months were. My time thus far in Argentina have been filled with so many adventures and interesting people.

Back to the bike tour. Our guide was extremely personable and had an extensive knowledge of the area. He spoke to us about the plants and fungi that grew in the forest around us. After the first initial minutes of biking around the city, we found ourselves in the heart of the forest, where he would tell us about the history, animals we may come across, and the indigenous Guarani people that we would soon interact with.


Iguazu, Misiones. Armory for a Guarani tribe. There were traps for small mammals like foxes, and spears to the right of the picture. 3/6/16

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Iguazu, Misiones. This clay building is used in religious ceremonies. 3/6/16

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Iguazu, Misiones. A nice vista during the bike tour. 3/6/16

I did not expect the bike tour to be so entertaining! It was extremely difficult to bike uphill, but it was a great exercise. We were able to interact with the indigenous Guarani- who sang us a song, and saw some amazing sights. We kindly tipped our guide, and he joined us for a couple of beers in our hotel. These people are so awesome!

At night, we decided to go back into the city in hopes to find people almost as cool as Mariana and our bike guide. We enjoyed pizza and beer with an Isreali army commander, his girlfriend, and their Argentine friend. He had amazing stories to tell, and answered any questions I asked him. Our trip to Iguazu was spectacular!

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Buenos Aires, Argentina. A Sage Corps meeting taken when I was at home sick. A great group! 3/11/16

My days in Buenos Aires were counting down. In the next few days, my startup took Adi and I out for drinks, and El Equipo went to a Cirque de Soleil show. I had a heart-to-heart with the CEO of my company, and he gave me some advice about my direction in life.


Buenos Aires, Argentina. Some Irish Pub with my co-workers. I miss you guys! 3/12/16


Buenos Aires, Argentina. Outside Casa Rosada. The last picture I took in Argentina from my way home from work. 3/17/16

I told my parents I would come a day later than I was. I messaged my older brother to have some sort of fail-safe in case my parents got too anxious. One of my best friends, Daniel- who shares the same name as my brother, picked me up from LAX and drove me back home. I’ll never forget how my dog completely disregarded me and went straight to pounce on my friend instead of his owner. My mom heard me greet her in Korean and initially thought I was my brother’s friend. She took a second glance and screamed in excitement. I love playing jokes on my parents like that. I get my trickster spirit from my dad, who pranks my mother all the time. My parents embraced me gave me a warm welcome. It was good to be home.

I had a weekend to settle in before school started. Most of El Equipo was still in Argentina and were en route to Patagonia, where they would see more of nature’s beauty. I envied them, but I was happy to be home and to see familiar faces.

For one of the classes I enrolled in, we had the option to create a mobile app or writing. Naturally, I wanted to showcase the skills I had learned in Argentina working as an Android Developer, so I chose to do the former. School was back in session, and I made it a point to excel after a long break away.


Irvine, CA. Clarity App I made that won the Chapman University’s Annual Autism AppJam User’s Choice Award. We were one of 5 teams out of 30 to be awarded. 4/22/16

During this time, I was working 10 hours as an undergrad researcher in UCI’s Donald Bren Hall while juggling school-work. I felt I had attained the skills necessary during my jam-packed time in Argentina, so I was comfortable with juggling work and school.

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Irvine, CA. Random bug testing picture for work at my office. 4/22/16

I had a good routine going on for my Spring quarter. I was doing well in classes, balancing work life, and had been exercising regularly.

Things were going great, but I’d be remiss to not acknowledge a big hurdle of my Spring quarter. I went through a difficult breakup situation, but I am able to see now how it has shaped me into a better man. I had good friends who stuck by me during my time of struggle, but my attitude began to affect my friendships.

It took me some time to repair these relationships with those who were caught in the crossfire of my angry rampage following the breakup. In the end, it was all a learning process, and I am grateful to be in the current situation I am in!

Finals were over, and I was able to score a full-time job at the research lab. My professors took us out on food outings, boat rides, and an invitation to their house when my mentor finished his PhD program.

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Newport Beach, CA. My future place of residence. 8/8/16

I was working 6 hours a day, and as long as I was working my required 30 hours a week, I could take as many days off as I wanted. Working from home was also an option! At one point, I was at Crystal Cove beach every day of the week, and camped in Sequoia for a weekend.


Sequoia National Park, CA. Nature is the best escape. 8/12/16

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Irvine, CA. Sunny day from the top of my workplace. 8/19/16

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Crystal Cove Beach, Laguna Beach, CA. My own private beach. 8/26/16

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Crystal Cove Beach, Laguna Beach, CA. The loot from spearfishing. We brought the fish back home and ate it. #catchandcook 8/26/16

I decided I wanted to experience newer things before school would start again. The summer had already been productive, but I knew I could do more. I decided I would embrace my American roots and take up arms. Another close friend of mine and I went to a shooting range to test out our skills. Target practice!

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Stanton, CA. FT3 Tactical Shooting range. Derek and I had a competition to see who had better aim. I won as I usually do in competition with him. 9/9/16

Next up was the Mt. Baldy Hike. This was the most difficult hike I’ve ever done in my life! It took us a whopping 8 hours to complete the whole thing! I was the first in my group to reach the top!

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Mount Baldy, CA. The view from up top. 9/10/16

With the Fall quarter approaching, I decided I would pick up another job with Swoopin. I felt I could handle the workload, but I would later find that it would be quite the challenge!

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Corona Del Mar, CA. Sunset 9/15/16

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Fullerton, CA. More sunsets. 9/20/16

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Laguna Hills, CA. Professor’s house in celebration of my mentor’s finished PhD! 10/1/16

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Irvine, CA. Sunset. 10/13/16

It was around November when I realized how great the year has been. I had began making stronger relationships with amazing individuals much like the people I met in Argentina. My new roommates, strangers that I would meet at Starbucks, and old acquaintances that I would become very close with. The school quarter was difficult because of the 2 jobs I took on, as well as the 30-day comfort zone challenge I decided I would do.

At the end of the quarter, I prevailed. I found success in the comfort challenge, and did well enough in my classes. I spent the past few weeks working on this blog, reading more than I’ve ever done, and designing my life the way I want it to be.

Parting words

In the end, 2016 was the year I began chasing the things worth fighting for. I shed off the metaphorical exoskeleton of my past and metamorphosed into a stronger human being. It was the year I took great strides in deciding how I want to live my life. It was the year I grew the most, and I foresee amazing things to happen in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Paul Joon An


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Irvine, CA. Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017! 12/8/16