"The heart is onboard with me being a professional writer, but the head has some doubts. It reminds me of my shyness, anxiety, and perceived weaknesses."
"I spent most of my Friday and Saturday nights those first few months alone in my apartment with beers and Netflix."
"Wallowing in misery after not following a traditional path and depending on social media for validation can truly break your spirit."
"I wish I could say that my career was clear to me from the minute my stilettos left the building… I spent the following years closing doors and opening windows, looking for something more."
"Whether by instinct or self-talk, I thought that there was another response. Stay put, work hard, and let perseverance win the day."
"I’ve decided that judging something as a success or failure is at best crude. Much more interesting to me is the process for how we achieve."
"Failure is simply an opportunity in disguise."
"We can accomplish so much, but not necessarily in the order we expect."
"I have always liked stories where people beat the odds. It is a good thing too, because in the last year, I became that kind of story."
"Although I didn’t earn a Bachelors Degree to become a nanny, it was through that position that I found an actual paying job, albeit as a temp hire, at Groupon."
"I am fueled by a simple desire to contribute to society a little bit more than I take, and I know public service is a good place to strike that balance."
"My understanding of what it means to be both Chinese and American is fluid. On any given day, I can prefer one of my identities."
"In America, doors have opened for me, even if my path is not clear."
"Equipped with theories and explanations of the world, I came to Tulsa ready to make a change through public service."
"I learned just how tough it is to calm down a student who can’t focus in class because their mother got arrested the night before."
"I thought I wanted to be an astronaut, a marine biologist, or a veterinarian. By the time I got to college, however, those interests fell away and I found myself soul-searching for the perfect profession."
"It is in the outdoors where I feel the most alive and healthiest, and that has been a great personal discovery."
"I’ve chosen to leave a job I was told that I was great at and in which I had growth potential. I’ve given it all up to be a Senate intern."
"I remember trying to go through the motions of what happy people do—go out for coffee with friends, or go to the gym—which just led me to trying not to cry while on the elliptical."
"Why am I obsessively, incurably compelled to be awake at night when that is not the way of the world?"
"I am an actor—no extra letters after my degree—though I sometimes wonder why I didn’t choose to go to grad school. It would have been easier."
"I spent my whole childhood full of certainty. I was going to be a veterinarian. Ever the bug-collecting weirdo, I figured it was a great way to funnel my love of animals and science into a career that would span decades."
"I was, for better or for worse, following mission-driven work of my heart."
"As I neared 26, I felt like the breadcrumbs from these early jobs weren’t leading anywhere clear. And I was constantly fighting my own sense of inadequacy, of being behind my peers."
"My life remains a messy work in progress."
"I have learned that by constructing purposeful prisons, I can escape the overwhelming expanse of freedom and create the structure I need to express my whole self."
"Because I spent my twenties focused on becoming healthy, I can now at twenty-eight turn my attention to my career goals."
"But it was one surprising decision that helped pull me out of my job-hunting malaise: I became a Lyft driver."
"Being in a place where everyone you see is busting their ass to survive, you catch the bug and instead of moping around being jealous of what other people have, you put your head down and get to work. I haven’t had that feeling of being dead inside since."