Fight the Fight

I’ve been thinking about this moment for half a year.

Yesterday, my fourth year design project finished after almost 16 months of work on it. We didn’t manage to achieve everything we wanted to, but I think we accepted that a while ago.

I am so unbelievably grateful for the opportunity I have been given to work with my wonderful team.

Let me try to show you how wonderful they are.

My program’s culminating project starts in 3rd year, where we form teams of 3-4 and try to choose a project. But 3rd year was not a great time for me, and I never really found classmates that I wanted to work with for the next 2 years.

During one of our team-finding classes, I gave a speech about an idea that I felt strongly about. I was still looking for a team, so it was essentially a last-ditch attempt before I would be automatically assigned somewhere.

No one really responded, and I resigned to being in some random group.

A couple days later, Aaron, Adrian, Dian and Justin approached me after one class and asked me to join their team.

I still honestly cannot believe that moment happened.

They were a solid team of 4 good friends. I was a complete stranger. I wasn’t friends with any of them. And they didn’t even know that I was in their class until I stood up and gave that speech.

Even despite all that, they let me join their team. They gave me a chance to work with them and become their friend. They gave me an opportunity to work with the smartest and nicest people in our program, and on a project cooler and more amazing than I could have imagined.

I have them to thank for everything that I’ve been a part of in the last 2 amazing years, all because they took a chance on me.

I think that speaks volumes about the people that they are.

Over the next few terms, we lost Justin as he switched programs, but we went through tons of iterations, pivots, questions about our projects and our ideas, decisions to change and not change and then finally change, and many, many late nights.

Aaron is our leader. He keeps us focused and on task, and pushes us to do the dirty things we don’t want to do. But he also knows how and when to back off, and how to respond if he pushes us too hard, and how to make us do our best work individually and as a team. Also he’s an insane programmer.

Dian is our focus. She drives our ideas forward because she’s really the only one with the technical skills, but she manages to explain things well enough to get us off our feet. She’s the passion of our graphics project.

Adrian is the balance. He’s always level-headed and well-spoken, and never seems to judge you for any mistakes or problems. He’s not afraid of taking the dirty work, but he’s also able to ramp up on tasks so ridiculously quickly.

I’m honestly the clown. I don’t really have the same level of technical depth as any one of them, but I’m comfortable with a lot of breadth. I try to be as level and forward as Adrian, but that’s hard to do. I think my main contribution is that I try to make sure that we’re having some more fun. I’m pretty dispensable, but I’m okay with that.

We’ve had times where we’ve been on each other’s nerves. We’ve given up so many times, but we’ve been excited just as many times as well. We’ve pushed each other forward reluctantly, and we’ve gotten through all of our hurdles as awesomely as I could ever have imagined, and it’s really because Aaron, Adrian and Dian have an wonderfully balanced group dynamic that I have had the amazing pleasure to be a part of.

We hit some awesome milestones and exceeded a lot of our expectations, but we didn’t manage to hit all of our ambitious design project goals, and it sucks, because I think they deserve so much more. For me, the only reward that I’ve ever needed has been their trust and their friendship these last 2 years.

We did our sad group huddle after we learned we didn’t win. It was sad.

Life isn’t fair sometimes.

But I am so glad to have been part of this journey with them. Thank you guys.

Email

Contact me at lai.victor.vl@gmail.com.