The Big Moments

by Rita Nguyen

Those of you who know me know how much I love Joss Whedon of Buffy and Avengers fame. I’m unabashedly a follower of all his work, the dude is flat out brilliant. That said, his stuff is not exactly deep and meaningful so I was quite surprised when I came across this quote from him: “Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”

I’ve spend the better part of this year dealing with some pretty big moments. First as an entrepreneur then losing the company and even attempting my first real relationship – 2014 certainly wasn’t dull.  I was saying to a friend last night how I can not wait until this year to be over as I’d like the psychological “break” that comes with a new year.  His response is that one day I will look at this year as one of the best of my life, even if it was shitty overall.  And he’s right. There are only a few times as an adult when life tests and changes you so dramatically in a small period of time. When the trauma is so great that there is a distinct “before” and “after” picture. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I am a different person today than I was a year ago, and that’s not a bad thing.  I’d like to think that the me of today is more patient and stronger, though maybe a little more cautious and perhaps less trusting too.

That last part is sad but the overall tradeoff works for me because when you are forced to put yourself back together, you will find gaps and spaces that can be filled.  You also get the opportunity to discard the things that no longer make sense. In the past 12 months alone I have quit smoking, started baking, cooking, running, golf, yoga and French lessons.  I’ve shed friends and “trusted” advisors and opened myself up to romance, better mentors and stronger friendships.  I’ve relocated to a new country where I knew almost no one and have taken the time to build new friendships and forge new relationships.  My life, though dramatically different from the corporate ladder-climbing of my EA days or pitching-entrepreneur days of last year, is much richer and fuller for all that.

There have been no shortage of lessons learned this year but hands down, the most important thing I’ve learned is to prioritize my bucket list over my to-do list.  I don’t claim to have the answer to the ever-elusive work/life balance question but I do know this – startups take a whole lot out of you and are easily all-consuming.  I’ve spent the past six months trying to figure out who the hell I was outside of work and that’s because I never protected the part of myself that didn’t self-identify as a career woman. Once that was ripped away, the parts that were left didn’t have a whole lot to cling to.  The battle this year was hard-fought but the lessons learned were important and not something easily forgotten.

So my plan is to blow out 2014 in the most over-the-top, bucket-check-list, creating-big-moments way I can and kick off 2015 properly.  This past year has been full of shocks, betrayals and heartbreak but also firsts, lessons and growth and while I can already see that it was a pivotal and important year for me, the psychological fresh start is welcome and I can’t help but get giddy as I look ahead to 2015. Whedon is right, no one really wants their life to change but if it has to then I’d rather create my own Big Moments, thank you very much.

One final word as this has been my first post since shit went pear-shaped – I owe my sanity to a few key people this year and you probably know who you are. I don’t know how I would have made it through without you and I will be eternally grateful and indebted to you. You taught me the importance and power of building a strong support system and the characteristics I need to foster to be that for others in my life.  Thank you and I look forward to an amazing 2015 together!

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