How I Found One of My Callings

A calling is not some fully formed thing that you find. It’s much more dynamic. Whatever you do—whether you’re a janitor or the CEO—you can continually look at what you do and ask how it connects to other people, how it connects to the bigger picture, how it can be an expression of your deepest values.
— Angela Lee Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

When I was in the third grade, my English teacher made us participate in a comparative study of the Cinderella story across multiple cultures. I was an introvert at the time and found an undying interest in reading novels well above my grade level. At the end of the quarter, my teacher had us auditioned and performed a version of a Cinderella play in front of the class. As a Leo, I knowingly auditioned for the lead role (Duh) but ended up getting selected to play the Fairy Godmother (aka the narrator) instead. I remembered being so disappointed with the outcome and telling my mom I wished things would turn out differently.

During one of our dress rehearsals, my teacher told us to stop running our lines and then she called out my name. "Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "Did I do something wrong?" 

She smiled and turned to my fellow peers and said, "Did you see how Khanh performed with so much conviction? Now THAT is how it should be done."

When I heard those words, I felt time stand still and my entire body — including the hair on my arms and the back of my neck — bristles as if called to attention. I felt liberated and alive. When you experience something similar to this in your own life, slow down and listen attentively to the universe. You're onto something and that something is called "your calling." I've only shared this story with a handful of people and my best friend Steven is one of them. So every time I'm in a crossroad in life, he always reminds me to think back at the very moment I feel the most alive. 

This "moment" stayed with me all through my teenage and college years. I did the morning announcements on the intercom at my high school, participated in class skit performances, was the lead speaker of all school assemblies, did a graduation speech in front of my school district, graduated from the top communication and journalism school in the nation, and now I have the opportunity to MC several weddings every month.

I'm listing these things out because they all have one thing in common: I am really good at telling stories. But here's the thing, we're all storytellers. Whether you're a musician or a UX designer, you have a narrative you want to convey and we're all artists in this world. 

When I made the decision to move from Los Angeles to pursue a career in technology, I was told not to make the leap and that I'll be joining a boy's club. I was also told to stick with what I was good at and that was to be "the pretty token Asian in my department." Well, knowing me, I did it anyway because I don't like being told what I can or cannot do. I went from telling real-life stories to helping thousands of business owners tell theirs. 

In my humble opinion, doing things you enjoy is a gift you give yourself that continues to echo through the course of your life. I hope you all find your calling, whatever it may be, and may you continue to share your gift with the world.