A lot happens in a decade

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with – nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.” – Rob Sheffield


In reflection through my travels in the last two weeks, I’ve come to realize the large influence each and every person has had in my life, from the values I carry with family, friendships, relationships, to the places I’ve traveled and lived, to my work ethic and career choices. Below I’ve broken down many of the segments of my life and how they’ve influenced me. This may seem like it should be a private journal but I hope that in sharing with you my reflection, it will encourage you to do the same – break down the segments of your life and what it’s taught you.



In the past two+ weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to be on vacation in Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Boston. It was a much-needed break from the daily grind of the last few months. Before heading off to vacation, I felt a bit of burn out starting to creep in after putting in 12+ hour days. With that said, I’m also very fortunate to have work to keep myself busy for 12+ hour days.

Throughout my vacation, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the journey life has taken me in the last decade. I graduated high school and left Hong Kong a decade ago, and since then, I’ve lived in 6 different cities, 4 different countries in 3 continents. Fortunate does not begin to describe the opportunities I’ve been gifted.

Every place I’ve lived, every person I’ve met, played an important role in molding who I am today. One of the most powerful job interview questions I’ve had to answer is: “Name 5 people that have made the most impact in your life, why and how?” At the time, I was able to name 5 specific people but in the last few weeks, I’ve realized that there are much more than 5 people. In chronological order, I’ve expressed some of what each experience I’ve been through has taught me.

  • HKIS (Hong Kong International School)’s service learning and Interim trips taught me to always be a servant, serve with compassion no matter rich, poor, friends, or enemies.
  • HKIS sports and my coaches taught me what it meant to be a team, to be a Class athlete, to always carry sportsmanship is everything I do.
  • HKIS Summer discovery program, specifically working with Shirley Wan, gave me my first work experience, taught me how to work and have fun with coworkers at the same time – and of course, working with children.
  • Island ECC taught me the importance of community, how to love in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ. Mentors and fellow youth group friends allowed me to learn that we can be a servant leader in Christ yet be open and loving to those who have a different belief as our own.
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ in Cambodia (Vannak, Grandma Peg, Rind, Vannara, etc) created a home for me in PP since the first time I visited- leading to my gap year working in PP.
    • This year taught me responsibility at work, how to be a leader for students I was teaching, but also how to be a leader amongst coworkers even in the midst of conflicts. It taught me to value education and what it means to be a “good student”.
    • This year in PP gifted me with friends from all over the world from couch surfing, many of these friends accepted me for who I was and became close friends despite having a large age difference.
    • This year taught me to be a smart traveler, to turn our fears into opportunities, and that beauty can be found in the most war-torn places.
  • Emerson College taught me to be unique, to stand firm to our own beliefs, values and yet be open for discussion with those who may have a different opinion. Emerson taught me to think critically with everything I read, write, hear or do.
  • Quidditch – Emerson and Lost Boys, taught me that it’s pretty damn badass to be able to run with a broom in between your legs while scoring hoops and tackling people.
  • Grad school taught me that I was capable of research and writing a master’s thesis if I put my mind to it- that sometimes it takes sitting with your research data for days before you come up with a good idea that you can roll with.
  • Austin taught me that the pulse of a city and the energy of the people is extremely important to me. Austin taught me that live music is a crucial part of elevating the soul of a city, and everyone in it. Austin showed me with the right environment, and the right community of friends that will not only always have your back, but challenge you to your wildest dreams – I am capable of settling down in a city for more than a few years.
  • Avesta taught me that learning does not stop after college. BTP taught me that when you put a group of people who are driven to learn, willing to sacrifice, and willing to take risks- it makes the work environment feel like play and all that hardships turn into learning opportunities. “Hire for culture, not skills. Skills can always be taught.”
  • Officially obtaining my ACE Personal Training license in 2018 and the learning I have been fortunate enough to have through Movati and various courses has taught me that it’s never too late to learn what you’ve always wanted to learn. Remember those days where you told friends, “I wish I knew this, I wish I knew that…”
    • Don’t wish. Make it happen.

Not getting the H1B to be able to stay in the States reminded me that God is constantly challenging me – as soon as I find a city that I feel completely alive and comfortable in – I was bounced right out. The last year and a half were filled with ups and downs, transitional moments of confusion but perhaps without this transitional time, I wouldn’t be spending as much time in reflection of the last decade nor would I be actively seeking out my next steps.

Thank you to each and every single person who has made an influence in my life. We may have only lived life together for a short period of time or may live a thousand miles away from each other now, but I see you- and I thank you.

I don’t know what 2019 and the next decade has in stored for me but what I do know is that it’s going to be unpredictable, exciting and filled with joy.

Published by Joanne Lam

πŸ“ Toronto | STRONG w Joanne πŸ’ͺ MovNat ACE & Agatsu Kettlebell Certified 🎯 Commit Confidence Consistency

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