I used to never write while I was emotional. I’d wait until after the emotion left me and then I would reflect and write about it intellectually. Clear headed. Writing emotionally scared me. Scared that people wouldn’t like my work. Scared that my writing would be too emotional — I tend to be sometimes. Scared that my friends wouldn’t accept this side of me: I’m a science/Engineering major so where is the data? Where are the facts?
But a couple of years ago a prominent blogger gave me some advice. Her name is Penelope Trunk. And what Penelope told me to do was write about what I am struggling with now. She said that I’d connect with people better. That all of the big bloggers write about their struggles now.
And what I’m struggling with right now is a breakup. I broke up with her last week. I didn’t want to, but I had to. We weren’t even truly together, not bound by any commitment, just our two souls touching — our minds, our hearts, our hands. We spoke to each other for hours everyday, always finding comfort in the other’s warmth and smiles and laughter and love. Our connection can only be described as: few in a lifetime. She was my best friend. And she was also a potential soulmate. And ultimately, that’s what split us apart.
A couple of days ago, I read that Ray Rice was being cut from the Baltimore Ravens. I was a bit stunned. He’s one of the best running backs in the NFL and still in his prime. You don’t usually see star athletes get cut like Ray Rice did.
But then I read why: he beat his fiance in an elevator and it was captured on video. I haven’t even watched the video yet, and I don’t ever plan on watching it. The thought of it is sickening. Violence and hurting others are two of the biggest things I stand against. I don’t tolerate harmful behaviours from anyone. I proudly thought to myself, “I would never hit a woman like that.”
“I would never hit a woman like that.”
“I would never hit a woman…”
I sat in silence as I found myself stuck on these words. I knew I would never get violent with anyone, but something was off. I began to think about everything that happened between me and my girlfriend after we broke up. Every word. Every encounter. Every feeling.
I haven’t written in two years. I don’t even know if I know how to write anymore. I’m scared that I don’t. I’m scared that my writing will be boring and that my ideas won’t be helpful.
A lot of people have asked me why I stopped writing. I tell some of them that it’s because I’m unsure if I still have the inspiration to write. I tell them that I’m just not “feeling it” — I say that I’m unmotivated and I’m missing a “spark”. But that’s bullshit. It’s just a lame excuse. I know that you can create your own inspiration.
I tell others that I don’t have time. I tell them that I want to put more effort into coding. Into school. Into being a better computer scientist. I tell them that I might start writing when all of my school work has died down, but that’s also bullshit. I’ve gone through one summer break and two winter breaks without writing. Writing and improving my coding skills also don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
These two reasons are how I’ve rationalized why I stopped writing, because I don’t want to face the real reason; that I had quit. Gave up.
Because fuck. Writing is damn hard. I don’t want to write anymore. It’s been two days and all I have are 300 words. I also just realized that I have a Chinese quiz today and now I want to give up again. I always want to quit things when they start getting hard.
Violin. Piano. Soccer. Chinese school.
Hard scares me. I’m scared I won’t be good enough.
I’m scared that my friends won’t think I’m good enough.
I’m scared of rejection.
I’m scared of putting in effort and not obtaining a good result.
I’m scared of working hard.
But I have to remind myself that anything worth doing is hard. Life, love, happiness. Being the person you truly want to be. I can no longer brush aside things worth doing just because they are hard. I have to grow as a person, and I have to find who I really am.
And this is why I have to write. Because it’s worth doing.
From last Saturday to Tuesday, I was in the computer science lab for about 10 hours a day. Every day, I’d go to the lab from 12pm to 10pm but sometimes I’d work until 4am. I was working on my final project — a board game called Lines of Action.
Combined with the ongoing work throughout the semester, I’m exhausted. All I want to do is sit in bed, watch The Mentalist and play Fifa. I want to sleep in past 10:30am. I don’t want to be productive. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, I emailed my math professor telling him that I really enjoyed his class and that he’s doing a fantastic job. He emailed me back offering me a job.
He wanted me to help him redesign his course. He says that the goal of the class has become unclear and because so many people take his class, making sure everyone learns the material and keeps pace with the class is hard. So he wants me to help him by redesigning class notes, helping him redesign his curriculum, and giving him suggestions that could make his class as good as possible. He also wants to put the course on edX sometime within the next year and wants me to help him migrate the class to be available in an online format.
Not your typical job as an undergraduate washing test tubes.
I failed my computer science exam last week. For a couple of hours after the exam, I was feeling hopeless. How am I going to major in computer science if I can’t even pass this exam? How am I going to get a job? I usually get A’s on my exams and I was kicking myself for not studying more.
The day before the exam, I didn’t study at all. Instead, I went to a Lindsey Stirling concert and then later went to celebrate Obama’s victory over Romney.
And you know what? After those few hours were over, I don’t regret it at all. I would still go to the concert and then go celebrate Obama’s victory. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Lindsey Stirling live again and she was amazing. I definitely won’t ever see Obama take office again.
I used to really oppose affirmative action. Whenever the topic would come up in conversation, I’d always strongly argue against it. It’s an unfair policy. Why should students be penalized or rewarded for having a certain ethnicity in college admissions? That’s out of our control. Last year, I even took a survey in which I voted that I was against affirmative action.
But after spending a year and a half in college, my stance has changed. I’d like to take that vote back. Berkeley doesn’t have an affirmative action policy, so I see first hand what it’s like to not have one. And what I see is this: the lack of diversity throughout the campus is detrimental to student learning. Continue reading
For a long time, I believed that I was wasting my life because I didn’t have a goal. The conventional wisdom is that if you don’t have a goal, then it’s necessary to set one. We’re told that long term goals give our life direction and without one we’re just wasting time. There are many people who buy into this way of thinking and then worry and think it’s a bad thing that they don’t have a goal.
But this way of thinking is wrong. We need to unlearn goal setting because goal setting is a backwards process. Continue reading
Going through schooling, we’re preached the importance of having good grades. We’re told that if we get good grades, then we’ll be set for life. We’ll get into college. We’ll get into grad school. We’ll get a good job, have a family, live a good life, and live happily ever after. So we follow this mindset. We sacrifice sleep, our health, our mental stability just to earn an A. It’s okay to suffer now in order to get good grades because we set ourselves up for success later.
But this way of thinking is backwards. We don’t need to suffer now. We can live happily, get good grades, and let our happiness lead us to finding success. And we don’t even need good grades. Just live happily and let our happiness lead us to finding success. Steve Jobs had a 2.65 GPA in high school and dropped out of college. Colin Powell barely graduated high school while Richard Branson didn’t even make it through high school. Malcolm Gladwell couldn’t get into graduate school because his undergrad grades were so poor. Continue reading
Yesterday, I saw an article about a book a 17 year old is writing. It’s about education. He’s proposing a completely new system to education including getting rid of the standardized tests like the SAT. I think it’s great, we need more awareness that the current state of education sucks.
And then I wonder why I’m not writing a book. I should be doing that. I’m three years older than Nikhil is and I have the same goal that he does: positively change education.
So I tell myself that I’m going to write a book. I tell myself that I’m starting today. I don’t know anything about the process it takes to write a book, so I do some research. Writing a book is going to be harder than I thought. I don’t have time to write a couple hours every day; I’m a university student and I need to learn how to parse inputs using regular expressions by tomorrow. My motivation starts to waver. Continue reading