Episode 57 What Happened After My Next Ten Year Plan was Made

April 27, 2018.

It was the one year reunion after we graduated. I was hesitating whether I should fly back to Chicago. The reason of the hesitation: I know there will be A LOT OF people, a lot of ‘Oh hi how have you been?’, a lot of trying hard to stuff our lives in five minute conversations in crowded, noisy venue. I genuinely want to know how my friends have been, but I am fearful that they want to meet and catch up with as many people as possible, and that they won’t have time for that with me, and maybe, the deepest fear, is the fear of realizing “I haven’t actually made good friends in Booth.” I knew it is possibly a fact. And I am afraid of seeing this fact in front of me.

The other day, I had brunch with another Booth in Seattle. She said, “Why not? It is the most efficient way to catch up with Boothies. Otherwise you may not be able to see them in years.”

That’s actually a good point. “Just seeing them, and having these five minute conversations, is precious.”

It is good. But it is work. So I still hesitated. Until I got this message from another classmate BG: “Hey Gloria, are you coming to the Reunion? We want to have you speak at Booth Stories”.

I find myself booking tickets in the same minute I received this message.

There is something about “Speaking on the stage, under brief, but intense attention from a large group” that excites me, and makes me feel alive.

So the next question is, what do I talk about.

There was quite some thoughts coming to my mind. What I ended up choosing, is about 10 year plans: How I made a 10 year plan in 2009 that I have been following almost exactly till today, and the funny, tragic stories when I was recently making my next 10 year plan.

It is quite ironic how things happened after the speech. The speech is about how I find the ONE Thing that I want to do with my life, and what I have been doing to execute on the plan. However, the week after that, was quite ironic. I was not happy at work, and the job I did is not ONE Thing at all. It’s a blur of a lot of things. I was exhausted, and I don’t have a clear vision whether this blur of a lot of things can grow into something great, and what I am able to achieve in the long term. I was very frustrated.

This can happen: Your work is fine if you don’t think about meaning. When you start thinking about it, it becomes blurry. And it can also make you sad. “What if you can’t find meaning?”

I also realized, I don’t mind a lot of work. My deepest fear at work, is burning myself for something that doesn’t matter, that one day when I look back, I realize “wow, I really have done nothing.”

That’s why when people ask me, “How did your speech go?” I don’t quite know how to answer. The speech itself was good. It lived up to my expectation (and I hope to the organizer’s and the audience’s too), and is a good outcome based on my 50 hours of preparation. (Thank you BG for making it happen! It indeed meant a lot to me.)

But the week after the speech, as described above, makes me hard to be excited to share more about my speech. To some extent, I feel ashamed. — What did I just say in Booth? WTH just happened in my real life? P.s. don’t get me wrong, every job has ups and downs, pros and cons, and I think my current job is probably the best job I have done in my life.

I was also hesitated to write this blog post.

Sometimes, in this culture, I feel that it is only proper to share positive feelings and thoughts. Consciously or unconsciously, I have this voice talking to me,

“Don’t share negative thoughts. People don’t want to hear about it.”

“Don’t share negative thoughts. People will perceive you as a negative person, a weak person.”

“Don’t share negative thoughts. People will feel negative too.”

So sometimes I just suppress myself, or only talk to close friends about it, or write them down. But recently, I see great value in seeing other people sharing negative thoughts. And that gave me courage to write these down.

Here is the story: Last Friday, I flew in San Jose for a wedding. It was the fifth flight I took in a week, a difficult week. I was physically and emotionally exhausted that I can’t be happy or excited for anything, including the wedding. Something is broken inside.

I can’t be happier for the amazing couple. But I was also uneasy about the wedding. I am not confident how well I can hold myself under this condition, in front of a large group of happy excited people talking about how amazing their lives have been. And I was thinking how should I pretend that everything is fine and great with me too.

During that weekend, one of my best friends CZ from L.E.K. Consulting is visiting, and we planned to meet. It was when she texted me, and the fifth time wanted to change when and where we should meet, that I was really falling apart. I couldn’t hold myself together. “It is so much efforts to live…” I was literally crying by the street in front of Stanford Grad school of Business, the place we planned to meet, in her fourth version of her schedule.

So we finally met. It was not great. My mood was not under control. We said good bye and then I joined two of my best friends N and S from Booth for dinner. One of them is a amateur improv talk shower.

The topic they were having, when I joined, is “How life sucks.” with vivid examples from real people around us, screen shots of text messages. How this person is so good at becoming friends with people she met on dating app. How that person stayed up late for an entire week because egg breaks in fresh delivery. It is the funniest, MOST REJUVENATING DINNER I have ever had in months.

It gave me perspectives — my life is actually not that bad — and these suckages are actually pretty common. It gave me a chance to take a break on life, to take it less seriously, to have some good wrinkle growing laughter. And I got to know that my friends have this Friday after work drinks that they dedicate to sharing and laughing about miserable things that happened this week. I joined them this week. It is so hell awesome. I am so proud of my friends who come up with this idea.

So that was a pretty long story. I will be very surprised if you are still with me.

There is a quote that I really like, “Our greatest joy is our sorrow unmasked.”

Human beings have a deep desire to be seen, to be understood.

The purpose of writing this blog is:

  1. If you listened to my speech in Booth last month and thought my life is great and perfect. — No it’s not. It is absolutely amazing sometimes (that ten minutes on the stage is worth my efforts weekends after weekends). It sucks too. From time to time if not more often :) Everybody’s life is not what you see on their Facebook posts, just like your life isn’t.
  2. It’s ok and probably good to share negative thoughts, as long as you have good intention. My intention here, is to make you my dear reader to know that suckages are common :) and let’s laugh about them. If you want to hear more about my miserable stories. Buy me a drink and your wrinkles are ensured.
  3. What you fear, what overwhelm you, what upsets you, is probably common too. As you have read a lot about mine here. I hope you to feel seen, feel understood. And if you ever want to talk about them, I am all ears.

If you are still with me here. Wow, that is some serious waste of your life on me! And I hope that is well wasted. If you are interested in wasting more time on me, here is the speech:

Booth Stories: The ONE Thing

Originally published at gloriaxz.blogspot.com.



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Gloria Xiaolu Zhang

Gloria Xiaolu Zhang


A data scientist in digital marketing. Love blogging and coding. On a quest of posting 52 blogs in 2019. www.gloriablog.com