25 Jul My World
When asked what she wished she had known as an intern, Lu Li, now the CEO and founder of my company, looked around the room at our somehow equally eager and exhausted faces and said something completed unexpected:
“It doesn’t matter.”
Lu Li is, unquestionably, a very smart person, so I don’t think she meant that we should blow off our internships and intentionally do poor work under the tired banner of “YOLO.” I do, however, think she meant that our internships and, at least to me, our broader experiences in Europe mattered in a different way than the rest of our lives.
At first, this was a hard concept to wrap my head around. I had come to London to do work and visit landmarks that I thought mattered more than whatever work was doing and whatever sights I was seeing at home. London was supposed to be where my real life began, one of the first stops on my mission to see the world, and in many ways it has been. I’ve been able to see the centuries old Roman Baths,
the fantastically mysterious Stonehenge, and the landmark of choice for tourists everywhere, the Eiffel Tower, but even in and of themselves, these things matter in surprisingly different ways to me. For a bit of a cheeky example, take the Eiffel Tower and Stonehenge: one is a 10,100 ton metal monster of architectural ingenuity, and the other is 22 tons of rock in a field, but I would still choose the quiet genius of Stonehenge any day.
Then some things matter in what should have been obvious ways: the day we left Paris, I returned to the London accommodations to Facetime with my family. My little sister had just received a trampoline for her third birthday, and I watched her jump as high as her little legs would carry her while screeching, “Look at me! Look at me!” Only a few hours earlier I had just toured the Notre-Dame de Paris, and yet she was still the most incredible thing I saw that day.
Long story longer, I think it’s smart to know what matters to you most, and to know the difference between The World and Your World. Sometimes the two will overlap, and a bunch of rocks in a field will earn a special place in your heart. Other times, the three-year old will win. Either way, travelling has given me the opportunity to realize how fiercely I love both worlds, and that’s all that matters to me.