Dearest everyone whom I have made even the slightest acquaintance with,

And to everyone who has been frequenting the works I have put out for the world to bare — this is for you. And to me — because you deserve an explanation for the slacking off you’ve done recently.

Where do I even begin?

Let me start off with why I even bothered to start this blog in the first place. At the end of 2016, I was in the middle of a career transition. As was the case for many, 2016 was a bitch of a year for me as well. I went through a roller coaster’s worth of emotions within the first month of the year alone. And many more roller coasters’ worth of emotions through the months that followed. I cycled through 3 jobs, frequented 7 different metropolitan areas, flew on a total of 10 flights, and drove countless miles — all in the space of 12 months.

I took a break in January for about 2 weeks (if you could call it a break) before starting a new chapter of my life in Silicon Valley. I needed the respite. 2016 took a toll on my body, and the pain was, to put it softly, agonizing.

Allow me to go off on a bit of a tangent, if I may. College did not prepare me for any of this. I repeat: ANY OF THIS.

My first gig out of college was as a fashion PR intern in New York. I like fashion. I LOVE fashion. It’s one of my few hobbies that I can tout. And I majored in marketing. So fashion PR sounded like a very logical extension of my college education. Turns out, not at all. In fact, the job was nothing like I imagined. Sure, there was the usual social media stint here and there that was routine, but a lot of days were filled with checking clothes in and out of inventory, and cleaning up the showroom to make it presentable. It was menial labor. And I felt belittled. This was not helped out by the fact that I felt the egos of my bosses breathing down my neck constantly on the job.

But that was a recurring theme. Apart from the short stint with the government I had, everywhere I went, there were egos to navigate through.  I remember, at one job, I had a boss call me up at 10PM in the night, on a Tuesday (I think). That night, I ended up working past midnight, until 4AM. And I woke up for work the next day at 7.

College helps you learn the skills necessary to do your job. More or less. There are details the experience is missing. But college definitely does not teach you how to deal with the overabundance of egos in the workplace. Office politics; placating your bosses; effectively communicating your opinion without exacerbating the situation; these are all skills that are perhaps more important than the day to day skills required for the jobs on the market today. But these are things effectively non-existent in the college experience.

I felt like I ran into a wall straight out of college. And it took me a year to learn that what was really important were people skills — skills that helped you make allies, and reduce enemies.

And I grew tired of that. I grew tired of having my groupies define who I was professionally, rather than my professional skills. So I left. I needed a break from the drama. And that wraps up 2016. Rather neatly, I might add.

And then 2017 came up. I was already set to join a startup I’ve been eyeing for a while. And the thought process behind the decision was this: a startup is somewhere I can really hone my skills as a business person, make an impact with my skills. Because that’s what the entrepreneur was supposed to be — someone who won at the game of meritocracy; someone who was so talented that others rode on his coattails to garner some moderate success of their own.

I’ve never been more erroneous.

Startups are like lions on the Serengeti. The strongest egos survive and duke it out to make their dreams come to fruition. Sure, the fuel driving these egos are based on traction, but a still sizable portion comes from non-meritocratic aspects, like family, friends, and heritage.

I don’t want to delve into too much detail on this matter, but in short, I learnt exponentially more from my 3 months at a startup than I did over the entire course of 2016.

There were both pros and cons. Pros, I learnt what I was good at (finally), and I learnt that I had better people skills than most can claim. Cons, I still cannot deal with the egos, and the constant shift in power that occurs non-stop in this realm cost me my health.

Which is why I took a good week to get my health in order. As of the writing of this piece, I’m still not entirely whole. There are bits of me I feel as tattered, and require stitching, but I can attest, I am feeling better than when I first landed back in Korea.

So, what’s next? Nothing too special. Just applying to jobs with my newly found skill sets, applying them to market myself better to companies, and hoping they respond positively. Other than that, I think I’m going to pursue some moonshot dreams of my own. I’ve always wanted to be in entertainment, for one.

Wish me luck.

Michael

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