Connecting the dots looking backward

“You can only connect the dots looking backward” – I think those words or something along that line came from Steve Jobs.

When I was 15, I joined High School for the Gifted, a high school that was 20 mins from my home. I was the first person in the family that went to a high school outside of a 10-min radius from my place. All the years studying maths in secondary school led me to sign up for the entrance exam to the maths class at that high school. I failed by 0.5 points. I thought that was it, but I was offered a second chance to join either the IT, Chemistry or Physics class. I chose the latter despite knowing almost zero about physics. When I graduated, I didn’t know much either. Back then, I didn’t even know what a USB was and I was certainly clueless about A LOT of things. But my friends and peers saved me. Their wanting to go overseas motivated me to follow suit and enabled me to dare to dream. The seed was planted in those days and I started to plot my way to go overseas.

After high school, I took on the SAT mission. I couldn’t remember the score anymore, but it wasn’t high enough to secure a scholarship. Two months after the SAT test, I passed the entrance exam to a polytechnic university in Finland. Back in the day, education was free in Finland, even for foreigners. My family’s finance wasn’t great. As a result, I took that chance to go and study in Finland. A few months after coming to Finland, I used my SAT to get into Aalto University, the best university in Finland. That turn of events opened the doors for me later which led me to the University of Nebraska at Omaha and America several years after.

Around 2015, I was working in the Marketing department for a small hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam. Being small and lacking personnel, our hotel didn’t have a designated person to take care of revenue management. I volunteered to assume such responsibility since I was eager to learn and felt comfortable with numbers. Little did I know that the experience was the answer in the interview 4 years later that landed me my current job.

It has been 10 years since the first date I went overseas for the first time. A little more than that since the day I walked into my high school. A lot of things happened and even though it felt insignificant at the time, the events usually took place for a reason and led to bigger consequences later in my life. Like Steve said, we can only connect the dots looking backward. My point is that if you stumble upon this post and read this humble account of a Vietnamese stranger, keep in mind that whatever you go through may pay dividends later. Well, it may also bring about consequences, but a Friday night does call for a little extra optimism, doesn’t it?

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