When I prepared to quit my full-time job, I was most concerned about what to do with my health insurance and all the supposedly great corporate benefits.
Like many others, I’ve heard horror stories about how expensive it is to get individual health insurance if you aren’t eligible to get on the plan of a family member or a spouse.
When you are newly self-employed, the last thing you want is a big medical bill that will bankrupt your savings account while you live on inconsistent income streams.
Then flashbacks from when I decided to purchase my first home back in 2016 reminded me to stop for a second. …
After working “in the field” as a visual designer for almost a decade, I started teaching design in college and vocational schools. The number one question I always get from students is — how do I build my portfolio (so I can get a job)?
I was tempted to give them the generic answers. You know, do great work; put them up on a website; design the layout nicely; write well thought-out case studies; create attractive thumbnails; add some interactivity and animation, so on and so forth.
I still give these advice to students. After all, they are the basics and have to be noted and worked on. …
In January of 2020, right before the global pandemic, I quit my corporate job for good. In less than 12 months, I have doubled my 6-figure salary by freelancing.
Before you roll your eyes and think this is another bragging article, let me tell you about my original plan and how horribly far I’ve strayed from it.
A few years ago, I started having the idea of building my own business, but I had no idea what I can sell. …
When I was in my mid-twenties, my living situation became frustrating. I had been living in an apartment in Queens, New York with a roommate and renting out our living room to lower our expenses.
After several horrific roommate incidents, including one that involved our living room subtenant almost burning down the apartment, I began to question my co-living situation.
I felt that it was time to move on. As to where, I had no idea.
One day, as I was talking to my mother on the phone. She asked me if I had thought about buying my first home.
Having moved to New York right after college, I was accustomed to the high rent and subpar living condition. …
How the 2020 pandemic housing fever shrunk my savings by 50%
From hindsight, I should have seen all of the warning signs, but the pandemic housing fever got the better of me.
In the summer of 2020, I moved across the country from New York to California to begin a new life.
I had been a homeowner for the past few years and things were going pretty well. When I was 27, I bought a cute condo with a killer view of New York City and enjoyed my time there for the most part. Nothing too crazy happened in my first home purchase except one offer rejection. …
The price we pay for sticking our head in the sand
Three months before Coronavirus paralyzed every country in the world, I went into self-isolation due to my chronic illness. Despite being in extreme pain every single day and alone in my apartment, not one of those days agonized me as much as the state of our world today. As more and more information came into light, I realized there is a common denominator in this global pandemic that may have led us to this stage.
I’m neither a medical professional nor a lawmaker. In this current situation, I feel as powerless, useless and helpless as I have ever been. My heart breaks every single day for the suffering humanity is going through, but if we don’t reflect on what went wrong, we will never ever learn. …
How I got invited to speak at 10 conferences in my first year
As far as I remember, I’ve never been a speaker.
At work, I rarely have to do presentations. I’m a graphic designer. My work speaks for itself (hint: this should be read in a sarcastic tone).
As a child, I’ve been on stage semi-regularly performing pipa, a Chinese instrument I had been playing since I was seven years old. Having that experience, stage fright is not really an issue for me, but I still don’t consider myself an “on-stage” person.
I never would have thought to go on an email spree reaching out to every conference in my industry pitching my speaking ambitions. And that’s exactly what happened in January, 2019. …
Please don’t congratulate me for getting married
As early as I could remember, I’ve hated my Chinese name. It was a completely masculine name. I felt my female identity was challenged.
Growing up, I constantly dealt with people’s surprised reaction toward my name. So much so I tried to apply for a name change with the local authority when I was 17 years old.
I was denied. The reason they gave me was that 17 is too old for a name change. Later, I found out that was not true at all. …
I learned it the hard way so you don’t have to
I was lying on the exam table at my primary care doctor’s office.
“Yup, you are definitely bloated,” said my doctor. After a brief abdominal exam, I was instructed to take Zantac and go on a bland diet.
The next thing I remember was rushing myself to urgent care. In the span of a week, my acid reflux had become so severe that I couldn’t even take down water. I became extremely dizzy and nauseous from dehydration. …
I moved across the world with no money
“Can you tell me where my daughter is?”
The day I stormed out of home after an intense argument with my mother, she called my school. I was fifteen years old and for the first time, I did not return after dark. The disagreement between my mother and I was too much for my burning teenage hormone to handle, so I decided to hide out at my grandmother’s house. A week later, I decided to return home but refused to speak to my parents for the following month.
This dramatic fallout with my parents started from an unlikely place — I had been wanting to study abroad ever since I was eleven but I just found out that my parents couldn’t afford to support me financially. My irrational teenage self didn’t know how to make it work without their support and the possibility that my biggest dream will never come true crushed me hard. …