what a year it’s been

This year was one of many changes and adventures for me. In some ways, I could easily draw parallels to when I first entered college. In other ways, I felt and experienced and learned things that I would never have imagined myself going through. Here are four themes that defined 2019 for me, and in the spirit of belated Thanksgiving, why I’m grateful for each.

1. Travel.

In just these last 11 months, I traveled to 8 different countries outside of the States. It was as though there was a real travel bug that had infected me; I couldn’t sit still. Every month, I was itching for yet another look into the world outside. At times, it came out of boredom, other times out of curiosity, and other times, a craving to fill a void in my soul.

With each journey, I saw and tasted and felt both novelty and familiarity. In London, I climbed the spire of St. Paul’s twice to take in the sheer size of the city. In Seoul, I walked up and down the streets that defined my teenhood, reliving bittersweet memories. In Tel Aviv, I sat down on the stillest beach I’d ever seen for hours, a solemn mood so different from the beaches of LA. In Taipei, I devoured eight shrimp balls and found a home in a place I’d never been before.

I was exhausted every time I returned to San Francisco. But with each journey, I felt like I had seen a piece of an iceberg that would only reveal itself to be bigger and bigger each time, pushing me to wonder how much more gargantuan it could be. I was liberated from the tendrils of life that would twist me into stress and headache.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the luxury to travel and hope to dear god I don’t get fired; I’m not looking to stop anytime soon.

2. Communication.

At work many times this year, I faced challenges with communication. As a student, communication is a thing that happens during group projects and assignments. You do your part and then you’re done. It doesn’t bite you back after the due date, nor does it determine your (and your peers’) promotion status.

Oh how little did I think about how work would be a massive, never ending group project. I am outspoken. If I have opinions and questions, I don’t let them sit in the back of my throat. I want to be in the center of attention, but stress out with the sheer amount of responsibilities that I unknowingly take on. It has been truly challenging understanding how I influence others, and every day I question myself on how my words and actions affect others around me.

It’s hard to know the answers unless I receive feedback — and giving feedback is stressed at Facebook. For this culture, I am eternally grateful. As both an engineer and a person I’ve grown so much in less than a year, thanks to the comments and criticisms I received.

I was the kind of kid that would finish the entire group project on my own if I was failing to communicate with my team. You can’t do that, Jenny, this isn’t school; there’s no due date, and these people aren’t going to just suddenly cooperate. I’m still learning to trust and learning that communication is not one-sided. I have a long way to go, and the process so far has been frustrating, but I need to remind myself I am not the only person in this world.

3. Tears.

I’ve been very open about my struggle with depression this year, and I’m glad I was. I’ve found myself in the arms of many considerate and loving individuals who could both console me and lead me to believe that things will be better.

I’m not going to fool myself anymore, thinking there are no outlets or sources of help. Most importantly, I’ve learned to cry, to let my feelings be free without feeling weak.

And as life does life, it has been better. For that, I am grateful for the sunshine during the rainstorms.

4. Friends.

Image may contain: 8 people, including Jenny Lee, Thomas Reese, Alicia Savelly, Sresht Rengesh, Corey Wu and Elizabeth Liu, people smiling, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: 7 people, including Jenny Lee, Forrest Hofmann, Yury Ogienko, Eddie Lee and Eva Yeung, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Image may contain: 4 people, including Jenny Lee, people smiling, people sitting, people standing and outdoor

Image may contain: 6 people, including Eva Yeung, Jessica Zhang, Ellin Hu, Jenny Lee and Julia Park, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

Image may contain: 4 people, including Ellin Hu, people smiling, pool, swimming and outdoor

This year was the first year in a long time since I’ve prioritized friends in my life.

I’m grateful for every single soul that has shared a bite, an inside joke, a tear, a drink, or a smile with me this year.

2020, I’ve got some high expectations.

what a year it’s been

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