Hi friends! Humphrey's mom Sandy here. Humphrey's Instagram recently reached 90,000 followers. Having this many friends through Instagram, or starting Humphrey's namesake business are things I never imagined when we first brought Humphrey home. So I thought it would be a good time to reflect and share some thoughts on this journey.
For those that don't want to read this long journal of a post, you can dive right into the video at the bottom of this page! It was filmed last summer, soon after launching Spotted By Humphrey ("SBH"), when we made a trip down to Los Angeles. (Read about our L.A. trip - Part I and Part II).
While we were there, we hosted a meet up at Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach, and afterwards we sat down and filmed a short dialogue about Humphrey (hence our beach bum attire and messy hair!)
In Good Company
During our trip, we spent some time with Alec and Vahe, who are my husband Yong-Soo's old co-workers from his days at Ripple. Vahe and Yong-Soo were engineers, and Alec worked in marketing.
Fast forward to August 2018, Vahe had left the company to pursue music in Los Angeles (Follow his music and photography here. Fun fact: Vahe was the photographer at our city hall wedding!).
Vahe, "retired nerd, making music and occasional photos."
Alec had moved back to New York, and was in town to visit - he is the one that filmed and edited this awesome video. I should note here that Alec's passion is to create stories that he shares in his series titled DONUTS. (Make sure to hit that like and subscribe button after watching this video. ;) You can also find him on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. His handle is @sfnuop - read it upside down, donuts!).
And for those that may not know, Yong-Soo also left his engineering days behind to start an e-commerce business called Urban EDC Supply, and is in many ways the "big picture" mentor behind SBH today. As for me, I left my finance and accounting career (mostly at Ernst & Young, and recently at Gap Inc.) to build SBH and make my vision come to life (you haven't seen half of it yet!).
So when the four of us met for dinner in Los Angeles, the energy I felt was just indescribable. Here we were, all in our early 30's, an age some people might consider "too late" to be taking risks. I've definitely felt vulnerable (and still do) about leaving my cushy, stable, 9-to-5 career. But at least in that moment, I felt so energized and inspired.
We never intended on filming this video. I explained during the dinner that we had this meet up planned for the next morning. Alec thought we had an interesting story to tell, and offered to come film the meet up and a follow-up interview.
Alec, filming Pierre and his dad (@pierre_dont_care)
That evening, after filming the meetup and the interview, we encouraged Vahe to do his first solo street performance (watch the video of Humphrey making an appearance here). And of course, we all went to support him from the crowd.
I have no doubt in my mind that the four of us were meant to spend those few days together. Even though the four of us are so different and were pursuing very different dreams, we believed in each other and formed a genuine support system.
Internal and External Realities
At times it's not very clear what this path I'm on today will lead to in, say 5 years. And that's pretty scary. But what is very clear is that I've never felt this aligned with my inner truth since I was a child (which is having a better balance between creative vs. analytical work, connecting with people in a meaningful way, being in the consumer products/retail space, finding success not by competing but by collaborating, etc.).
What I am learning from this journey where I'm paving my own path is that inherently there is no real measure of success. For example, I don't (and shouldn't) measure my success solely in terms of revenue, or follower count. Because I'll never know if that's "good enough." What is good enough for me though, is that what I do every day is aligned with my truth and that I'm genuinely putting my best work into each task I'm faced with. I have faith that the rest will work itself out.
Focusing on what I can control (i.e. the work that I put IN, vs. the OUTcome) empowers me and keeps me inspired. At times I do fall in the trap of focusing on certain outcomes, which are things I can't control. But I believe that having faith and listening to that inner voice - regardless of whether it results in instant gratification or not, is how you truly find yourself and build yourself up. I just turned 30 last year and I feel like I'm just starting to rediscover myself now.
Alec sent out an email as part of this video going live, and I read it like it was a letter written to me. I'd love to share it (a slightly abridged version) here. To me, this pretty much sums up my story of why I'm putting so much of my time and energy into SBH (and Humphrey's social media). At times when I feel vulnerable again, I will come back to these words.
So with that, I leave you with the wise words of my dear friend, Alec Liu, as well as our video featuring the story of Spotted Humphrey.
Humphrey, on the first day we met him (5 weeks old)
I think one of the tough things about life is that constant dissonance between our internal and external realities.
Like deep down, you always sort of know what you want and what you need and what you expect out of life to a certain extent.
And I think one of the challenges we run into is that we're not always provided the right knowledge or the right tools or the right pathway for getting there.
Especially because there's a lot of false advertising out there.
A lot of paths and truths that are presented to us seem like good ideas at the time. They seem like the right strategies for giving us the life that we want. But there's also an inherent falsehood to this very premise.
Because any sort of pre-packaged path for you is fundamentally not going to be the perfect fit. Everyone is unique from their nature and nurture. And in the end, the only true path will be the one that you pave yourself. No one will be able to provide it for you. Or if they do and you take it, you eventually find it to be deeply unsatisfying.
And that dissatisfaction comes from that dissonance between your internal and external reality. Your internal reality knows that something is up. Your external reality might look good on the surface. It might look good on Instagram. But that dissatisfaction will remain. You can cover it up in a myriad of ways. But you'll always know it's there.
That's sort of how reality works anyway. It's physics, probably. There isn't one truth. Everyone has their own truth. Their own reality.
One of the things my sister, Nina, always talks about is how we enter this world totally aligned with that truth.
When you're a kid, all you know is your own reality.
But then you smarten up, and you're contending with the multitude of realities that society presents.
The pressures of those other realities can be overwhelming. By puberty, you've probably lost sight of your own truth.
Of course, over time, the hope is that you wisen up. Because that's part of the process, too. Experiencing those other realities. It's how you learn. It's how experience. It's how you empathize. It's how you fail. And it's how you get up again. Losing yourself is just as important as finding yourself.