In contrast to what many people are saying, I’d have to say 2020 has been one of my best years. The craziness has been a blessing in disguise. The country’s lockdown has given me time to reflect on my experiences and pushed my comfort zone. For me, 2020 has been my year of exploration, development, and personal growth.
I am Andrew Nguyen – an ambitious 1st generation Vietnamese Canadian boy who’s keen on continuously seeking experiences and living life to the fullest. Growing up, I was always looking for opportunities to learn from and I saw that best from finding as many experiences as I could. By only the age of 22, I’ve looked back and realized I worked with over 20 companies and took on even more positions from extracurriculars and community involvement. I remember at one point not too long ago, I was working full-time at the hospital, studying full-time, leading teams as Vice-President and Chairman for various school organizations, and working 3 other part-time jobs, while still managing to have a social life – all at the same time. I always asked myself how I did it. To me, I saw it as a way to really grow my comfort zone and expand my horizons by experiencing as many different positions and environments that I could while I was still young. I continuously reflect and ask myself what my true passions are and what my purpose in life will be. These various experiences helped me build the foundation that surely guided me on my journey towards my future self.
In January 2020, I finished the last bit of my bachelors degree on exchange in Taipei, Taiwan. I challenged myself by studying in a country where I had zero prior knowledge of. I didn’t even know what the national language was spoken in Taiwan. Was Mandarin the same language as Chinese? I knew taking this opportunity would put me in an uncomfortable situation. This was the first time I was ever living on my own and it’s half way around the globe! The culture shock gave the opportunity to put my life into perspective with a culture that was so different from the Western world that I was from. I was intrigued just by simply interacting with people from all over the world when I was studying with exchange students. This was further enriched when I had the opportunity to travel the trip of my dreams after the study semester – to backpack Southeast Asia. The 6 months abroad taught me a lot about the world and even more about myself from the solo backpacking soul searching. Travel and global experiences taught me empathy from seeing the diversity of the world and reflecting on my own life back in Canada.
My world exploration was cut short due to the pandemic. Right when I thought I was safe back home in Canada, the country was in lockdown just a week after. As a new grad, I am finally living my long-awaited fear of beginning real adulthood. What’s next? That’s a question I always asked myself. I felt comfortable in my safe bubble as a student but suddenly, I wasn’t able to do that anymore after I had my virtual commencement and received my degree in the mail. I finally felt free, but I also have never felt so lost in my life. As a 2020 grad, job prospects were not looking too great for me during the global crisis. I struggled to find full-time positions throughout the summer and didn’t really know what I was looking for. I looked back at my many past experiences to figure where I should be leaning towards and explore further but nothing stood out to me more than being my own boss and continuously learning throughout my life, making connections with people, and being on my feet. I’ve learned that I thrive on collaboration and live to lead. I saw this in entrepreneurship. From this, I halted my job searching, and then decided to not follow the common route of finding a full-time job after graduation. I learned that sometimes when you accept an opportunity, it can rob you from even greater potential. I’m in my twenties, I can afford the risk. There’s no better time than to follow my passions and continue learning than now.
I decided that during the lockdown, I was focused on developing a solid foundation for myself in the form of habits that would ultimately shape my lifestyle and actions. I had one goal during lockdown – to be the best version of myself by learning as much as I can. I tried to read every single day about various topics such as personal development, finance, technology, marketing, psychology, positivity, productivity, and so much more! I was determined to network and meet someone new or someone who I wanted to learn from on a weekly basis through virtual coffee dates. I got my LinkedIn profile back up and running by taking online courses to make it some-what presentable. This is where I met an ambitious tech-startup CEO who was looking for someone to help him build a brand from the ground up. I was drooling just seeing what internships he was offering in a culture that was non-corporate and exactly where I believed I would thrive.
Through the power of manifestation and eagerness to learn, I was offered a position as a Community Marketing part-time Intern. This gave me the opportunity to work on my own time and learn from ambitious people who inspired me. Interning with a start-up was a kickstart to my learning in entrepreneurship. I received an awesome opportunity to work remotely to build a travel brand from scratch. I learned how to work remotely and be a part of a driven team from across the world to share our passion in travel and looking for ways to help travelers plan their trips better. The connections I made, including one-on-one talks with the CEO, gave me the inspiration and foundations to start my own business projects with his support.
Like many graduates, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. What I did know was that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It’s that question, “why”, that changed my life. “Why” is a funny question. It asks “what is the meaning and purpose of that?” That’s sometimes a hard question to answer. And, when you’re 22 years old, staring out the window into the rain, it seems distant. But I kept asking “why”, and eventually I came to a realization. Why not? You see, when you keep asking why to things, you eventually get to the root of them, and why you want something ultimately comes down to “because I want to be happy.” Happiness. That’s what life I came to realize it is really about. Why do you want something? Ask yourself why. Then ask again, and again, and again. Eventually you’ll realize that ultimately it comes down to “because I want to be happy.” Happiness. That’s what life I came to realize is really about.
With my free time, not only was I able to learn a lot from my personal experiences and professional growth, I was able to put that learning into practice and action towards a passion. From what I’ve learned about marketing and remote work, I was able to start freelancing my skills in social media management. I started 4 businesses with my friends and family and took on the challenges head on to milk the learning opportunities that came with them. I learned that you don’t need to be great to start, but you do need to start to be great. This involves learning how to manage teams, learning technical skills, and tapping into my potential as a young 22-year old. I’m always learning from new experiences and I can still see learning as a big part of my future. I need to fuel my curiosity because I learned that growth and comfort don’t coexist, so I need to continually challenge myself and learn from failures to build myself up. I’m not so sure what’s going to come my way, but I like who I am becoming. A lot. I’m setting the foundations for my life in my twenties to acquire new skills, new friends, and new experiences. No matter what age you are, I encourage you to do the same. Embark on your life journey with happiness and fill it with new experiences and learning to make it worthwhile!