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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

hey it's been awhile

I got lazy - there's nothing more to it. I could excuse it by saying "the transition to NYC" has been hectic and being a part of a 6 person NFT startup amidst the Web3 boom is demanding, but I've definitely had time to write down my stream of consciousness in the past two months. I've just been prioritizing the adjustment in the Big Apple and trying to get a grasp of what this change of pace in career has been. I have noticed a deterioration of my writing skills and a decrease in on-the-spot creativity (especially in English - my Korean feels like it's ironically improved), so I'm momentarily committing to blogging again. Granted it seems like this is one of my few "failures" in viral science (of course my Youtube isn't doing too hot recently either), but that actually frees it from the limits of needing to rake in views.

It's been exactly a month and a half since my move to NYC and it feels like I've been here for 5 years. What actually prompted me to write this post was a conversation between me and Tyler, one of my best friends from college, who noted the rather spectacular life I've lived post adulthood. Just at a high level, inclusive of my time in Lexington following my semester as a full time Resident Adviser, I've lived in four states, three of them being in the top 10 of the most populated states in America (I needed a state to sound cool here). If we consider Lexington (or Rockbridge County) to be in the South for the purpose of illustration, I've actually lived in the West, South, Midwest and East in the span of 2.5 years - and with a bit of a stretch that my time in Irvine was actually the "Greater Los Angeles Area," I've also inhabited the three biggest cities in America, each with a different job.

I can't thank the Lord enough for what I just described. To be frank, even in reflection I'm not entirely engulfed in gratefulness or in awe of how He has moved me from coast to coast and where I am now genuinely could not be possible without a greater force moving beyond my physical ability. Perhaps the pandemic has led a lot of people to live crazy and unpredictable lives, but the number of stars that had to align for a Korean American immigrant from Southern California to head to a southern-cultured Liberal Arts school in Lexington Virginia, become an investment banker in Chicago Illinois, join Cloud Kitchens back home in a remote work world and to have that job lead to the current NFT venture (I thought NFTs were a scam before this) in NYC - there's too many stars to count. I think I often forget that I'm clearly part of a plan, and regardless of my satisfaction with the plan, this plan continues to come to life. Being active in understanding that such a plan exists and the being in charge of the plan knows what's best for me is something I continue to struggle with, but also something I enjoy recognizing as a source of comfort and strength.

Top of mind recently has been the word "vision" - specifically what the Lord's vision for me is and whether or not I'm aware of what that is or who I'm supposed to become. It's quite a confusing and frustrating concept, given that it's something that's technically already determined, a path I will inevitably follow, and steps I may not even recognize are part of the formula that's been pre-written. We would all like to know where any of this is actually leading to or the people we eventually become, but knowing the result dismisses the process and de-glorifies the one in charge. And in the simplest of terms, it's not fun. What's far more important is to let go of the anxieties surrounding who we are becoming and the successes that we are chasing and missing out on, and learn to depend on the simple reality that we are in His hands. As much as faith is important to me, I also don't want to turn this into a "read me sounding holy blog" so the Jesus talk will end here for now.

NYC is a fascinating place - and I think coming here after I've been an adult for a bit is a blessing. It allows me to prioritize, and not be swept by the tempting culture of the rat race and spending $30 on a drink. I don't think I would've been as happy or stable of a person I am today if I started my career here - there's too many options, and with options comes trouble. I find that Chicago being my adult starting point has been the biggest blessing in disguise, and COVID following that first step is the second blessing that came as an add-on. It allowed me to truly think about what matters to me, who matters to me, and why I matter. Without such certainties, it's almost impossible to avoid being swallowed whole by the established culture of the Big Apple and become one of the mindless zombies that continue to pursue the north star that doesn't exist and get stuck in a self-feeding loop of the "clout-chase."

I'm not living an entirely Boomer life either - there hasn't been a single weekend since I've arrived that I didn't go out, and every single night has been fun. As much as I value "meaningful" priorities, NYC in my short time here has also taught me to loosen up and remind myself that it's okay to enjoy life at 24. Granted, I'm also constantly reminding myself that I've had plenty of fun in the past 24 years and certain investments I'm making now (for my liver, back, and social framework) will pay off in the 80 years I have left.

I'm sure others can attest to this, but since the pandemic has hit, life doesn't really feel real. Heading to the office everyday has taken a bit of weight off this world view, but working in the JPEG scene with people you actually consider friends and having the oldest person in the office still have "2" as their first age digit doesn't really help the cause. It feels like an elongated high school summer break where you're trying to fill your resume with extracurriculars because you have to, even though there's no college you're applying for. In some ways I wish I had more structure, and often get jealous of my friends who've remained in banking or are in route to start their med school residencies. Do note that this does not mean I'm jealous of them being bankers or doctors (I would never dream of such horrendous things!) but the sense of security (or at least perceived security) that comes from following a set path that others have walked before.

I think a good thought exercise is to ask yourself right now what the bare minimum you'd need to have zero worries - for me, I would love to have my current startup do well and provide enough of an exit for retirement, live the rest of my NYC lease out with no concern of money and actively look for a job I actually want to do (I'd probably pursue standup comedy or look for seminary) and then move back to Irvine next January and play golf with my dad every Saturday. I believe this thought exercise is helpful because it helps you to think about what you're working towards and also the things in your current life that are making you anxious or uncomfortable (i.e. the worry of the startup not doing well, concerns over my financial success and career, and the long term potential of not being home). While I want to try my hardest to eliminate the second category all together, I think it's also important to realize that the most likely scenario is a combination of both to a certain degree. Perhaps my startup doing relatively well but not enough for retirement and having the feasibility of eventually going home within 5 years is the path I'll take, and that's what I'll have to live with. The best solution here is to not have this thought exercise at all and just focus on today - but we all know that's not possible.

I'll end here - NYC is fun and I highly recommend anyone who has the means (or even slightly less than the means) to live here some time in their early 20's. It's crucial that your cautious of this being nearly a detour rather than the main path (at least if you're someone like me who wants to look up and see mountains and not skyscrapers), but also to keep in mind that it's okay to enjoy without considering the consequences, sometimes. The Lord has a plan, you're part of that plan, and you must consider to wrestle through prayer to understand what His vision for you is. You may never fully figure it out, but that's the beauty of it - because He crafted it and will execute it.

I'm currently fighting an uphill battle to resist the temptation to eat about 4 servings of late night pasta while subscribing to the "don't think about the consequences" model. Hopefully the north star of "there may be a cute girl on the street at any time" prevents me from boiling the water. See you on the next one folks.

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