2018 was a whirlwind of a year, filled with more change than we are used to. Most significantly, we traversed across the United States to begin a new chapter of life in Connecticut while I pursue my MBA at Yale. This uprooting after more than four years in Los Angeles felt significant: traumatic, exciting, and filled with promise.
Personally, I hungered for a transition. I hate to feel too comfortable in any stage of life because it means I’m not challenged, and possibly not growing. That said, our Pasadena life was pretty wonderful: work was meaningful and not very stressful, our community was warm and kind, and our rhythms were regular and almost pleasantly ordinary. Looking back, I know we could have stayed in our community to watch our friends’ babies learn to walk and talk, perhaps even settled in to start our own family there one day in the presence of people who have seen us through the past handful of years. There would have been plenty of beauty and joy in that.
But I felt dissatisfied with my own growth, somehow stunted in my work, and a little too comfortable with the ins and outs of our contained world. Life almost felt easy, and I knew it wasn’t building in me the kind of fortitude required for what I feel called to do. Despite often struggling with perfectionism, I can’t always push myself toward the obstacles that I know I need to tackle; fresh, outside pressures are helpful in that way. Thus, recognizing it was also about time for graduate school if I were to pursue it at all, I headed to business school.
Launching our startup
In addition to the desire to disrupt my placid mid-twenties, I wanted to prepare for nonprofit entrepreneurship and management. Aaron and I have spent the past several years thinking about how we in our particular gifts and skills might contribute to alleviating poverty and helping those in the most vulnerable communities. Combining our passions, abilities, and convictions led us to launch a social startup that brings mental health care to vulnerable communities.
Pursuing entrepreneurship as a student is a blessing and a curse. There are so many opportunities and requirements involved in getting the “most” out of an MBA program that somehow seem to detract from working on our venture. Meanwhile, students have access to mentorship, advisors, resources and funding that no ordinary working adult does. Everyone wants to help you when you’re a student (and in my experience, not as much when you’re an alum), and we’re learning to leverage this open-handedness while we can.
Having completed one accelerator program and won a grant, we’re humming along. There is so much to do in 2019, not least of which is to help our partners move forward in their initiatives. Once things are a little more solid I’ll be sure to share those updates here. For now, we are loving the encouragement and support we’ve received from friends like you!
Our travels in 2018
Toward the end of the business school application process, we took a short jaunt to Mexico City (then so close and so accessible from LA), where we did our usual feasting on tacos, ceviche, and churros. We had the pleasure of Aaron’s parents joining us, and we visited a few museums (the Luis Barragan house and the Frida Kahlo house) that I hadn’t seen before.
Anticipating a possible location change, we drove with our pregnant friends up the coast to Pebble Beach, where we relaxed oceanside with peaceful strolls along the coast. We also spent some time celebrating my brother-in-law’s wedding in San Francisco, stole away and stayed with new friends in Santa Barbara, and explored our friends’ hometown of San Diego where they served us the best beer I’ve ever tasted.
Hungry for one more jaunt to Mexico before we moved to Connecticut, Aaron and I drove across the border to Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe, a burgeoning wine country and restaurant scene. Despite the rustic roads and occasional GPS failures, we fell in love with the local Baja gastronomy and their innovative approach to winemaking.
Our move to Connecticut (and subsequent school and work) consumed most of the summer and fall, but we found time to escape to New York City twice before the end of the year. Thanksgiving brought us back to the San Francisco Bay Area to be with family and some of our best friends who visited us from LA.
Finally, we ended the year with an epic family trip to Patagonia to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th. We spent about 20 days exploring both the cities and stunning natural landscapes that make up the bottom of South America (more on that to come!), and I’m still reeling from the majesty and magic of it all.
Personal processes of becoming
Entering my 29th year, I feel as though I have more questions than answers. Years ago when I started this blog, I populated it with how-to’s and guides (which I generally still stand behind). Nowadays I’m realizing how little I know about the world, even as I move forward more convicted than ever of what I was placed on this earth to do.
It’s a gift to know what you’re good at, what you care about most, and how to combine those things into a meaningful past time that somehow pays the bills. Not everyone has that, and I hold it with humility.
I was recently asked concerning how I’ve changed over the past 10 years, and I think it’s been mostly this: watching my passions and skills and sense of calling align in the form of a new dream, and discovering the courage to pursue that dream with all that I have.
2019 will be full of milestones
By virtue of pursuing entrepreneurship while working on our graduate degrees (we both will graduate in 2020), our lives are full of milestones and hurdles. Unless we are want for work, I don’t plan to heap on more goals and things to check off the list before this time next year.
However, there are postures and skills I want to cultivate this year.
I want to be more generous in the way I see others.
I want our gift of hospitality to see the light of day, rather than drown in the “I’m tired” and “maybe next week” excuses we’ve used this fall.
I want to be good to my body and soul, not primarily out of self-improvement but out of humility and a recognition that I am neither invincible nor infinite.
And I want to spend more time outdoors, breathing in fresh air and looking up at the trees.
Happy 2019, friends.