November 27, 2009
Trying to sum up an entire decade is a whole different beast than recaping a month or reviewing a year. The years 2000-2009 occupy a third of my entire life, and with this length of time means that consequences from events have been realized and affect how I’ve grown as a person.
2000: my “graduating class” at the formal.
You would think that with several years hindsight, it would be easy to look back and understand what the impact of certain choices are. I started this exercise but ended up erasing a few blogs in the process. It is fun to imagine parallel universes where certain choices were reversed, and fantasize about what could happen; but what is unknown is the probability that these alternate scenarios would actually happen. How do I know I wouldn’t be working at IBM even if I went to University of Toronto for Engineering Science?
2001: My surprise birthday party.
Perhaps a better focus is to consider what were the key events and decisions in the past decade. The 00s still spanned my formative years and that convolutes what would have happened as a process of growing up, and what changed because of environment or choices; I would have still have finished my education, found a job, gotten married, etc. The key decision in the early 00s was probably my choice of University (and whether I would stay in Toronto or not).
2002: The classic student photo!
I had a choice between staying close to home at U of T, moving to Kingston to attend Queens or attending Waterloo, a quick 1.5 hour drive from home along the 401. As it is with most kids, this was a half traumatic/half exciting experience. I was moving away and living beyond my parents’ watchful eye (although they were only a quick drive away if need be) and my newish relationship with Pauline would have to be a long distance one.
2003: Pauline and I on the ferry to Center Island
I ended up spending half of this decade in university, yet at this point I have all but forgotten about my experience there. I met a lot of people, learned and forgot a lot of things and received two pieces of paper for my efforts. I truly do not know if it made a difference that I chose Waterloo over the University of Toronto. The details would be different but my key experiences and decisions could have occurred at both places:
- Coop vs PEY (I would still have work experience)
- Working in the US (lots of top-tier U of T student get hired in the US)
- Coop Rankings vs InternSHARE (opportunity to create a either)
- Living away from home (I would have had to do it in the US anyways)
- LDR vs a local one (still got married!)
- Joining CAS and then working at IBM (again, many follow this path from U of T)
2004: Team WILD and our fourth year design project.
These decisions have affected me of course. My coop experience in Canada and the US have prepared me to excel at IBM and given me an understanding of how I want my career to proceed. School and entrepreneurship has made me into a better organizer and rational thinker, and I’ve had my experience and opportunity to refine myself to be better at things than when I was a teen. But all of these only matter in the particular direction I am following; at the same time there are other parts of life that I haven’t or didn’t experience because of this. What did I miss by not joining others clubs during University, or having to work non-white-collar jobs? Even if I may not be better off, can I say I would be the same person I am if I had those experiences under my belt too?
2004: Thanksgiving trip to Las Vegas with various Seattle/California coops
In the middle of the decade, the biggest growth was having the facility to travel. This was initially spurred by working in the US and truly living away from home; where I could spend weekends on travelling if I wanted to. Travelling most importantly meant exposure to different experiences and thought processes then I would have had if i turtled in Toronto.
2005: Climbing Mount Ranier in Seattle
Looking back, I regret that I didn’t take greater advantage of my freedom (in terms of time) as a student to travel; I should have went on a grad trip instead of doing another internship, and tried to publish so I could travel as a graduate student. But I’m satisfied that I’ve gone to many countries this decade and still have some opportunity to travel in the next ones.
2006: My parents and I at the Great Wall of China
2006 felt like a lost year to me; I guess it was a year of transition. In terms of day-to-day work, I spent it in my Masters degree; but because it was a bit directionless I don’t think it changed me. The other big news from the year was that Pauline and I got engaged brings us to the last phase of the decade.
2007: One of the photos from our pre-wedding photography
The end of the 00s was when I became an adult. I started my first full-time job, moved out, got married, and made big purchases with my own money. I wouldn’t say that it was a big change, because I think I was capable of taking on these responsibilities (or had grown properly and enough to take them on).
2008: We had a small ceremony, here’s everyone who was able to fit.
But I think it is a period of growth which I won’t be able to reflect upon for several years (or decades). I started this decade having almost 15 years of experience being in school. It has only been in the past few years where I have had the opportunity to be an adult without excuses; I’m no longer under my parents’ wing nor can I say I’m just a coop/intern. People look at me and now I have to be the mentor, be the leader.
2009: On the Brooklyn Bridge, NYC.
I’m still a baby at that. It will take more trials for me to become comfortable and understand what is involved to be a leader. But that is the great thing about life, you keep growing and getting better and that’s what I plan to do.