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.
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.
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
Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing is truly a good thing. If it’s good for the world, for myself, for others.
A couple of days ago, I had a fight with one of my colleagues. We’re both helping run the Berkeley Math Tournament (if you’re a high schooler in the Bay Area, you should register), and we were working on a schedule for tournament day. I didn’t like her idea — I felt it was a huge waste of time, so I told her it was stupid.
She didn’t take my criticism well and so we started fighting. I don’t like backing down in fights, and as it escalated, harsher words were said.
She stormed out of the room and didn’t come back. I felt bad. I hadn’t fought with anyone in a long time. Continue reading
Last week I had a conversation with my friend about helicopter parents. Her helicopter parents. They won’t let her have a boyfriend (she’s a sophomore in college) and they force all of their values onto her. They feel a need to be in control. She wants to abandon her religion, but she can’t. She has to please her parents; she doesn’t want her parents to be disappointed in her.
Her behaviour is completely normal; no one wants to disappoint other people, especially their parents. But disappointing others happens. And it’s okay that it happens. If your parents love you, they won’t care what path you take. If they can’t accept you for your true self, then that’s on them. If you show your parents who you truly are; if you make an effort to have a relationship with them and they still don’t accept you, then that will be their regret. Your regret will always be not being true to yourself. Continue reading
Sometime between elementary school and college, many people lose their will to learn. Kids enter kindergarten having boundless energy. They’re enthusiastic, curious — there’s never a day when a kid doesn’t want to go to school. But as these kids grow older, and especially in high school, the enthusiasm fades, curiosity fades — they’d rather stay home than go to school.
Worst of all, kids start to lose sight of the value of learning. We’re all born with innate curiosity, but schools quash that curious nature from us. Instead of allowing us to explore, we’re told what to learn. Even when we find something that really grabs us, schools seem to try to do their best to destroy that passion. There’s no room for creativity; schools try to mold every kid the same way, try to make kids the output of an assembly line. The emphasis is on memorization instead of problem solving, following rules and orders instead of creative thinking. Continue reading