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challenges, frustration, tragedy, lost, confused

evolution, unplanned, surprise, work, art

oblivious, blunt, foot-in-mouth syndrome, determined, driven

Graduating college.

One of my best memories was one of my hardest memories: moving away from home. It allowed me to become who I am.

Successfully transferring into the design program at UCLA after two previous failed attempts. I remember that up to that point in my life, I’ve never wanted something so intensely. I remember the day I received my acceptance email...I was in the library and literally jumped out of my seat and yelped (Sam was there and was both happy for me and embarrassed ha)! This small victory ultimately led me to my current profession, so it definitely affected me in a tremendous way. Visiting my grandmother in Hong Kong shortly after college graduation is also a great memory. That was the first time I traveled back to my birthplace since moving to California when I was a kid. It was nice to see that the city was mostly the same, just more overpopulated. Paying off my student loan. As silly as that sounds, it felt like one of those cliche moments in which a chapter of my life has officially ended. Of course from then on, there are far crappier things to follow (car loans, IRA, health insurance, bills, freaking rent/mortgage).

How important family is. Doing what is right instead of silence can be freeing and could have saved a life.

I wish that I knew how to maximize my time better.

Once people are set in their beliefs, it’s very hard to change their minds, so pick your battles carefully. Religion, for example, is a fruitless fight. The best you can hope for is for those with differing beliefs to just freaking leave you alone. O_O Whatever “epic” projects you’re working on, be they short films or music or whatnot, you’re going to look back in ten years and find them kind of embarrassing. But that’s okay, because people change...their tastes change. What’s important is you’ve created something that at one point in your life mattered to you.

Things don’t come to those who wait.

Try to be more considerate and less self-righteous. It’s hard, I know.

Never forget family. Work hard, but don’t forget what is really important.

You don’t know nearly as much as you think you do. Listen to those who have done it before you and synthesize their thoughts with yours.

Pursue things that interest you. Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t care about, because by the time you realize that what you do bores you to death, you may find yourself in a stagnant, yet comfortable place in life where, despite your best efforts, you’ll be reluctant to change. If there’s nothing that interests or excites you, then take the time to try new things until you find something that does. It’s worth it.

Cindy Quach, 26

Josh Smothers, 27

Wing K., 32 37

Profile for Shirong Gao


A compendium of people's accounts of life in their 20s.


A compendium of people's accounts of life in their 20s.