2021 was quite a year. There were up’s and down’s as usual, and I somehow made it through all of that bullshit. I’ll be honest, this was not my best year, but I did my best given the circumstances. The pandemic taught us many lessons. The most important lesson for me was learning how to step back in certain situations. I felt like I didn’t accomplish much this year, but when I break down events throughout the year, it’s a W (dub).
cybersecurity princess of risky landing
At this point in my career, I am making twice the salary of what I started in the cybersecurity field 5 years ago. This is a huge feat for me because I honestly never thought I’d make it this far so soon. To put things in perspective, I thought I would make the amount I earned last year at 30. I’m grateful for the support from management as I continue to do my best.
I was in a few uncomfortable situations this year. As a woman in cybersecurity, I know there might be biases from certain people about my abilities. I always stand up for myself no matter what. However, that can come with a negative reaction. Earlier this year, I requested documentation from a vendor, as part of the process of performing a cybersecurity evaluation. The vendor’s rep had a major negative reaction, and I called him out on his behavior. That situation was escalated to management, and the rep screamed stating I was unprofessional/etc. I’m thankful management didn’t allow this behavior to be normalized. In the current world of ransomware compromises, I want to do my best to be diligent in preventative measures.
This year, I discovered many cybersecurity flaws within the environment, which is exciting! A few of my cases had management’s attention, and it’s great to show my value-add to the organization. I continued to lead the internship program on my own this year. I ended up having to create the capstone project myself, which involved a whole timeline of a family dim sum restaurant getting phished for their secret recipes. I had to create different characters and launch my own cyber attack. I also created my own python scripts to automate the communications between the characters.
I continued to contribute to my team’s technical maturity, including the creation of a runbook for a cybersecurity evaluation. I felt accomplished when I successfully socialized with different advisors throughout our organization for advice. On top of all of this, I earned my Penetration Testing certification this year!
My company also published two pieces featuring me. I was featured in an employee spotlight article for AAPI Heritage month, as well as the company’s annual sustainability report.
health is wealth
I finally decided to work out regularly this year. I started slowly by running 5k’s every weekend through the Rose Bowl loop. There were weekends where I’d run on Saturday and Sunday mornings, before the heat kicks in. Even though I’m not the best at running, I’m still trying.
A couple of months ago, I finally bought passes to SoulCycle and blogged about my journey. Initially, I was aiming for the hip-hop themed classes but really enjoyed Diego’s classes, which have a mix of different types of music I typically don’t listen to. Every class is a challenge, and I love how we end the rides with “welcome home to Pasadena”. Cycling at SoulCycle is a journey. Even though I’m about to run out of credits, I might renew for weekly cycles next year. It’s funny how for years, I passed by the SoulCycle studio, dreaming about attending someday. That someday finally came!
focus on yourself for the gold
This year was packed with interesting events, both good and bad. There are always difficult situations no matter who we are, but let’s focus on the good parts. A lot of this year was spent focusing on myself and coming to a lot of realizations. That’s part of positive growth!
I learned a lot about adult friendships – realizing who has genuine intent and who is malicious. I reflected a lot on my relationship with others. Who genuinely has my best interests in mind versus who’s waiting for me to fail (or trying to make me fail in the background). Over the year, I really refined who are the real GOATs and who need to be dropped. I’m thankful for those who go boots on the ground with me.
Despite the pandemic, I ended up going on trips. Mario took me to Big Bear and Napa earlier this year. I then had a hot girl summer with the girls in Las Vegas. It’s funny that I went with two of them almost 10 years ago and we’re back! Talk about starting from the bottom, now we’re here.
I had exciting 27th birthday celebrations. I had a boat party in Newport Beach with friends and had a great time. Mario also took me out to eat at Alexander’s Steakhouse, which is a whole experience on its own. I had their olive wagyu steak, and it was top of the line.
Four years ago, I decided to pay off my student loans in one go, before the interest kicked in. Last month, I suddenly decided I wanted to live my life debt-free for once. I paid off the loan for my Lexus RC and officially became debt-free. Financial control is so important because the last thing you want is snowballing debt. Any loans or debt I take on were always calculated. My whole credit journey has been interesting; though I wish there were more transparent information upfront. I’ve seen a lot of content about people taking advantage of free travel points with new credit lines, while the said credit lines would lower your credit age, thus lowering your credit score. Lastly from a financial perspective, I made the move to achieve a pre-approval for a lovely home in SoCal.
This year, I finally decided to stream my Call of Duty: Warzone gameplays on Twitch. I became an affiliate after months of grinding and have a super supportive community. Although there were some challenges to navigate, I learned a lot about the real world along the way. Again, we need to focus on the supporters who hype you up, not make you uncomfortable. PS. Check out my sniper montage video.
I also opened a sticker shop this year. Throughout the year, I drew up different wild ideas and turned them into stickers, ranging from Disney, to Call of Duty, to designer bags. I’ve always wanted to start my own business and have packing experience. A ton of people have supported my venture, and my heart couldn’t be fuller. This was definitely my first step in the merchant world.
I’ve always been interested in cooking and creating my own meals. This year, I decided to learn how to make new dishes and improve my cooking. I practiced making beef steak so many times, with vegetables and delicious sides. My goal is to make a delicious meal without putting my health at risk.
Lastly, I treated myself pretty well this year. I took care of myself and my wants. This included treating myself to a new Louis Vuitton bag: New Wave Chain Bag, which is sized between my first and second Louis Vuitton bag. Though this bag is more reserved for special occasions, I’m excited to add this to my collection. The key is to live within reason.
Although my blogging journey took a pause earlier this year, I’m glad to be back and creating content. Love, Peace, and Louis Vuitton bags.