I’m like most people. When I step out into the world, I try to put my best foot forward. I quickly check myself in the mirror before leaving the house, smile when I’m greeting someone, and work to maintain a positive attitude in my daily interactions. I do these things habitually and without any real thought as to why. I assume it’s to avoid friction between myself and anyone I might come across.

I went to my first Toastmasters last month. It was a significant event for me. Sitting around a table listening to people practice public speaking might not sound all that exciting, but I was pumped. Attending Toastmasters has been a lingering task on my to-do list for longer than I’d like to admit. Similar to other duties, once I got busy, I felt okay putting it off. “Maybe next year,” I would tell myself.

If you have heard my story or listened to the podcast from the last post, you know the role my parents played in shaping my values. Many of my decisions were driven by the desire to repay them for their sacrifice — cutting family ties to come to America and working incredibly hard so their children were better off. They exemplified the immigrant success story. It was a story I never forgot. Both because I heard it from my father every year, but also because it is the reason I have the opportunities I do today.

I had the chance to record my first podcast with Mike Lewis on When to Jump. I don't enjoy listening to or watching any recordings of myself but I've been learning to. The best way to improve my speaking is to analyze and see what I don't catch in the moment. It's also interesting to see I share ideas and communicate. I often feel I'm speaking to a younger version of myself whenever I share insights -- expressing things I wish I had known earlier.

I avoid looking into the past. When I do, I tend to focus on my mistakes and regrets. As a recovering perfectionist, I turned a blind eye when it came to my former errors. I pushed ahead, kept looking forward — towards my future and my goals. I am happy with where I am going, so why ruin the mood?

I entered college with a clear strategy. I would run track and cross country while balancing a rigorous biomedical engineering and premedical courseload. I would make time to develop a robust network of friends, maybe learn some new languages and explore the city of Boston. Somehow four years later, after stopping athletics for dance, quitting engineering for science, and having doubts if medical school was the right path, I was wondering what any of my previous planning had accomplished.