This past month has been filled with a lot of frustrations and emotions. Doubt has started to rear its ugly head, and it is an image and emotion that I do not really care so much for. I don't want to come off as arrogant, but I have always taken a lot of pride in my abilities and what I am able to accomplish when it comes to something I really believe in and enjoy doing - I don't like to live life with regrets, and I can assure you that I have made plenty of mistakes on this whirlwind ride we all call life, but I have never regretted any of my decisions. because of those bad decisions, they have forged me into something and someone I am really proud of. In life, I like to take chances and calculated risks, because I never want to look back one day when I am old and feeble and having to lament over things I should have accomplished in life.
A fact about me, I really love to read self-improvement books. I believe every day I am able to get out of bed is a day that I will take full advantage of to improve as many aspects of being alive as possible. There was a particular book that I read that made me realize how important it is to live a life on your terms. A nurse whom oversees the care of the elderly and dying was asked what are the top five things her patients' regretted most in life, and the number one reason was that, the dying wished they had the courage to live the life they really wanted, and not the life that people wanted them to live. That was a very powerful message, but it only re-affirmed my approach to life, because that was how I have been living to this day.
One of the things about asian parents is that, whenever they get together, they are always bragging about or comparing their children's success. Asian parents love to say, my child is a doctor, or an engineer, or a lawyer, and so on and so on. And whenever I hear about these things, I just quietly think to myself, awesome, but are you kids happy? Are they truly happy that they became something that they thought society would approve of, and that they did it because, you, as a parent, had placed such high standards upon them? You may be proud, but are they happy?
It is a really terrible feeling when you visit Vietnam and you mom tells you that you're 34-years-old and you haven't amounted to much. Then your dad recently visited you from Orlando, Florida, and tells you the same exact thing. I mean, I believe I have accomplished many great things up to this point in my life, I just haven't followed through with aforementioned achievements to be considered successful.
Growing up, somewhere along the lines in high school, the idea of becoming a pharmacist started to take root and it kept on sprouting up until my early college years. Truth be told, all I really wanted to do growing up was to become a ninja, and live my life in the shadows, kind of like Batman in Batman Begins. But I had the foresight to do my research at the time and it turns out that the unemployment rate of ninja'ing was very high, as well as the burn-out rate and turn-over rate (due to death by the sword), so I knew then I could not make a comfortable living being a ninja, as cool as it may be to wear those really weird socks and high heels that goes clickity clack.
So after getting accepted into the University of Central Florida (UCF), I decided I wanted to major in biology in hopes of one day realizing my goal of becoming a pharmacist. It was all good and gravy just taking the general courses required, until I stumbled upon Chemistry 1 and 2, and calculus. Those courses were the camel that broke the straw's back. I had never been proficient at math, and I actually hate it very much. I believe it literally took me five attempts to pass college-level Calculus and the formulas involved for Chemistry just drove me nuts. I did not enjoy taking those classes, and I knew I did not want to continue on my projected trajectory any longer. Then I switched my major to business, began to hate college and dropped out :), like a bOss.
So then there came a point when I told myself, I really needed to do something with myself, because I could not very well work as a food server for the rest of my life, and, so, I started doing research on the military. Initially, I was looking towards getting into the Navy, but a girl from the restaurant I was working with suggested I look into the Air Force, and so I did. I did my research, and the benefits and compensation seemed unbeatable, and so I submitted my application to enlist and worked with a recruiter. At the time, being a college drop-out, I wanted to secure myself a career within the Air Force that would give me the skills after four to six years and get a job as a civilian that would make me over $100,000 a year, and I finally decided to enlist as an Air Traffic Controller (no, we're not the people on the ground with the red wands telling you how to taxi your aircraft, those are maintainers, Air Traffic Controllers communicate directly with pilots through radio to issue all sorts of clearances).
Somewhere along the lines, I went to Tampa, Florida, to swear in and to get in-processed into the Air Force. I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test and scored a 97 out of a possible 99 points. I am really not sure how I managed that, really, because there was a simple algebra question that I didn't not know how to answer, and it was asking for the mid-point on an X/Y plot. So I was like, why don't I just try to count back from all the squares on a graph paper, and somehow, I got the question right. I told my recruiter of my test result and he responded, "John, you have scored high enough to pick whichever enlisted career you wanted from the Air Force, so Air Traffic Control it was.
Long story short, in regards to Air Traffic Control (ATC), I was completely miserable, and there were many nights that I cried and many nights and days dreading walking into the tower to pick up position to talk to pilots. I called my dad once in Technical Training school crying to him how difficult and trying it was in training for ATC. He simply said, stop crying, don't let anyone see you cry - well, it is my party and i will cry if i want to. So I toughed it out, made it through technical school, got rated as an Air Traffic Controller at my first base and went into one of the darkest periods of my life. I was so miserable as an air traffic controller. And one day, while trembling with fear in position and not having the courage to issue any further commands to pilots, I told myself I had had enough, because no matter how substantial the pay for air traffic control was, being miserable for the rest of my life was not worth it, so I was done with ATC. That's when I decided it was time to get back into college and obtain a college degree.
So when I separated from the AF, I got myself a government job working for the Veteran Affairs Administration. I was very happy to come on board with the federal government, and I thought my life was set, but the struggle was very real, and the politics did not sit well with me, so I terminated my employment with them to pursue my independence.
So, as you can see, I have accomplished very much during my life, but I have just not stuck around long enough within my accomplishments to make any headway, and I am frustrated that my parents think I haven't amounted to anything. They don't know that each and every day, all I do is grind, and as of current, I am just trying to build a future for myself, according to my rules. And, yes, starting a business is difficult, and making it profitable will prove almost impossible, but I know I don't want it any other way.
One of my favorite quotes are, "if you want to live life by your own terms, you have to be willing to crash and burn."
This past month has been really trying. I believe I am doing everything I need to in order to grow my business, but it always seem like it is not enough. There are plenty of times where I felt like, if I just closed my eyes and laid down on the floor and spread my arms and legs like a snow angel, I would levitate and float through life in a dark and serene place forever. I would float in slow-motion, pinging off and bouncing off any objects that I come into contact with. But then I realize that I cannot live my life that way, and that I needed to refocus with laser-like precision.
To make things more difficult, my executive secretary and I have been fighting for most of last month. I believe she is emotional regarding our long-distance employer-employee agreement, and my not being there physically for her has really affected her. Me, on the other hand, I have been in a long-distance relationship before, so I kind of know how to handle it, and all I can do is be patient with my secretary. We have been able to work things out, and we have decided to keep on moving forward with our business agreement. And I love her :).
The Farmers market season is coming to a close, and I and quite beside myself. I am not really sure where to go from here. I have, however, applied to Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets, and Ken's Market in order for me to get into the business of wholesaling. I believe wholesaling is the next logical step in order for me to grow and expand John's Kimchi.
Fingers are crossed, and here's hoping for the best.
-The Kimchi Whisperer-