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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a pretty impatient person. As a toddler, I wanted everything immediately, be it a snack or a toy, and if I didn’t get it, I would throw a bratty fit. Obviously, I was super young and naive at the time, so I didn’t really understand what being selfish meant. Rather, I was more concerned with attaining my own personal joy, and this desire for instant gratification was the early source for my impatience.

Eventually, adulthood arrived and I became conscious of our scarcest resource: time. We all value time differently and this influences how we choose to spend it. Some people are extremely dedicated to their jobs. Others utilize their days to explore every inch of the world. Some individuals feel content spending every moment with their loved ones, and others are just fine binging on Netflix. Whatever the case, we only have a finite amount. At a certain point, I understood how invaluable my time was, which ultimately shifted my motives. Simply put, I hated wasting time, and if I felt like I was, I would get agitated.

An hour wait for a table at a restaurant? Nope.

We agreed to meet at 4 and its 4:19. WTF?

Long line to get into a bar? Forget it.

Bumper to bumper traffic on the 405? FML.

That turning point I mentioned occurred at the end August 2012. My good friend was laid to rest and I was moving cross country to New York City the very next day. He was too young, only 29 years old. Things weren’t supposed to end that early, but it did and it had me shook. I heard the cliché a million times, “live every day like your last”, but this experience of cold reality actually put valid meaning behind it. I hated wasting time because I wasn’t going to get it back. I moved to NYC with a heavy heart and an intense motivation to optimize each and every day.

If you want to flourish in NYC, you don’t wait for opportunities, you seize them by the throat. My goals were clear and I wanted them to happen now. I lived fearlessly like there was no tomorrow, squeezing the potential out of my personal and professional lives. Patience wasn’t a virtue in NYC and I think living there actually made me even more aggressive. I was somewhat demanding, impulsive, and sometimes reckless, but I accomplished a lot because of it. On the flip side, I lost relationships, left opportunities on the table, and broke hearts.

Then adulthood 2.0 happened. The stress and pressure from living 100 miles per hour definitely took its toll, as the constant changes and frequent feeling of unsettledness weren’t healthy for the mind, body, or soul. The instant thrills that used to be exciting were no longer as satisfying. Plus, the impatience that pushed me to achieve so much, prevented me from making any real investments. Instead of sticking with a job for more than a year, I jumped to new opportunities that sounded more appealing. Rather than try to cultivate any serious relationships, I was too quick to determine that the girl wasn’t the “right one”.

I moved back to Los Angeles to gradually alleviate, not eliminate, that impatient self. I didn’t want to lose the edge that has helped me live a pretty eventful life so far, but instead limit it to appropriate situations. It’s been almost a year now and the process has been honestly difficult because I’m constantly fighting against that familiar restlessness. However, three things have happened since I’ve been back: 1) my Grandpa passed away 2) I currently have an empowering and challenging job 3) I got into an exclusive relationship with someone. All three forced me to slow down and value what’s in front of me rather than think about opportunity costs and alternatives. The key to patience is to understand how you directly affect your surroundings. If you’re constantly tense, your anxiety could negatively rub off on others, making you an undesirable energy to be around. Not everything is that urgent or vital to get distraught over. It’s about investing in what’s important to you and sticking through it the highs and lows.

Like I said, it’s been a year since the move and typically around this stage, my mind starts racing with thoughts. Am I where I want to be? This time I’ll take it slow.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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