So I have this ongoing hobby that I do in my spare time when I feel inspired. I make furniture out of cardboard boxes.
This is my newest project. An ergonomic standing desk made out of cardboard.
It’s one of my favorite creative outlets because it ends up being quite useful. It’s nice to dream about what a desk or lamp or table might look like and then slowly see it come into being of your own hands after a few hours. This is the inside of a table I made:
This is how it looks next to my bed:
But on an engineering or material level cardboard has so many benefits:
- It’s light.
- It is easily moldable.
- It is durable and sturdy if placed in the right structure.
- It is highly customizable.
- If a piece breaks or doesn’t come out right, it is very easy to replace.
- It is cheap.
- It is fun.
- It only requires scissors and a knife.
- It is easy to clean up.
- It can replace almost any piece of furniture.
This time last year, I was jobless. I was poor. And doing what I wanted.
In 2010, my friend Hy and I went to the Malaysian Bloggers Conference, where we first met the awesome community of bloggers in Southeast Asia. It was awesome. Bloggers from all backgrounds: from travel to food to commercial to civil. The event spurred a dream that I packed away for later: to be paid to blog.
2011, And Bloggers Conference in Bali
In December 2011, I got an invite to go to a Bloggers Conference in Bali. At the time, I was Marketing Manager at Indochina Tourist & Trade, my boss was away, and I decided, “Fuck it, I’m just gonna go”. It was an abrupt and naive decision at the time, especially because I needed approval and because I do respect my boss a lot. Nevertheless, a free ticket to Bali and to hang out with bloggers across Southeast Asia? Honestly, how could I pass that up? It was once in a lifetime.
I mean, look at all of these faces. Honestly, in my life, I’ve only met a few hundred bloggers in Southeast Asia but my impression is that Southeast Asian bloggers are absolutely awesome. They’re smart, tech savvy, socially conscious, and extremely friendly. And I got to hang out with them for free!
On the plane ride back, Tai Tran and I got stuck in Kuala Lumpur because President Barack Obama’s plane flight delayed everybody else’s flight in Bali. Between naps waiting for the next flight back to Ho Chi Minh city, I wrote my letter of resignation.
2012, And Blogfest Asia in Siem Reap
By February 2012, I didn’t have a job. And I refused to get an office job. I was sick of it and I was determined to do whatever I wanted, whatever that was going to be: playing music, teaching, writing, theater, and event organizing. It was difficult. Most of the latter half of 2012, I was living day-to-day with just enough money to eat. But I was resolute.
By November 2012, the stars aligned again. Friends in Cambodia invited me to Blogfest Asia and I got sponsorship from SEAPA, who were absolutely gracious about supporting bloggers in Southeast Asia.
The event was a recharge for the ol’ 2010 dream. Southeast Asia is such a richly diverse place. We’ve got the largest Muslim nation in the world next to top third most populous Catholic state. We’ve got one party systems, multi-party systems, and monarchies. Each with its own language, and different types of scripts. It’s that kind of diversity that inspires such a rich regional blogosphere.
Enter Tech In Asia
Fast forward to December 2012. The determination to not get an office job was catching up to me. I was happy, but I was broke. And there’s two truths here: 1) being happy and broke is better than rich and unhappy. I meet way too many people who complain about their job depsite being paid $2,000 or more. 2) Being broke eventually leads to unhappiness. But eventually, if you’re brave, patient and focused, you can find the balance in between those two.
One of my favorite lessons from Steve Jobs’ Commencement Address, which I cry every time I watch, was that “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” That’s precisely what happened in 2012. I was event organizing and MC’ing in the technology scene, and blogging. All the dots were there.
That’s where timing comes in. Friends were introduced, emails were sent, and I got an interview with Tech In Asia. Within a week, I wrote my first article.
This year, I’m writing. I’m not poor. And I’m still doing what I want.
Shoutout to all my wonderful Southeast Asian friends who inspired me, and are totally absolutely stupendously fucking awesome.