A commitment to writing poorly

I want to become more comfortable with publishing bad writing. What is bad writing? I’m not just talking about writing that falls short of the most stringent perfectionist standards. I’ve already been publishing pieces on this blog that fall way short of that. By “bad writing” I really mean writing that’s bad. Writing with typos, sloppy word choice, meandering tangents, weak concluding sentences. The kind of writing that, upon re-reading it a month later, you cringe a little (or a lot) on the inside....

July 27, 2021

On Finding It

For most of my life I was chasing after “it”. I always thought that I’d find “it” in what I was pursuing at the time—whether it was getting into a particular college, getting a particular job or having a particular crush like me back. What is “it”? It’s hard to put into words, but “it” refers to a feeling of significance, a feeling of having finally arrived, a feeling of deeper and more complete meaning than we tend to find in the drudgery of the everyday....

July 20, 2021

Self-concept in dreams

I sometimes have dreams where I’m checking Twitter. This is bad news for me and my social media usage, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into how flexible our brains are. My dreams look like this: I’m interacting with the Twitter web app, clicking around between notifications and mentions, struggling to follow the information coming my way. But notably, my body isn’t there. There isn’t even a monitor and keyboard through which I’m interacting with Twitter....

June 1, 2021

On believing you will fail

Here’s something I wish I realized earlier: believing you will fail does not mean you will fail. You can succeed in spite of a lack of confidence in yourself. As a teenager and young adult I struggled to develop confidence in several areas of my life, from academics to social status to romantic relationships. I was dogged by insecurities about not being smart enough, not being interesting enough, not being attractive enough....

May 28, 2021

Absurdism

The word ‘absurd’ has always held a special place in my heart. ‘Absurd’ evokes the ridiculousness of everything around us—the serendipity of our mutual existence at this place and time, the immeasurable complexity of the cells and proteins that make up our bodies, the unfathomable size of our galaxy. The moments I’m in touch with this absurdity have always been the moments I felt most alive. I’d find myself in awe that anything exists at all, and that the things which do exist happen to form this particular conscious experience of ‘me’ and ‘the world’....

May 21, 2021

In praise of reading slowly

I read more slowly than most of my friends who read. I do all the wrong things: I subvocalize, I stop and start, I take detailed notes and extract quotes. My friends talk about finishing a book in one night, and the same book takes me weeks. Today I watched a video of Visa talking about reading The Beginning of Infinity in a few days, whereas it took me hours of reading per night for several months....

April 29, 2021

Facing fears in a dream

My dream this morning looked like this: I was with a group of people, we were stuck in a classroom-like place, and some authority was keeping us trapped there. We wanted to escape, but leaving the room meant entering the hall, and in the hall we could be shot. So we ran out and kept ducking into corridors and doorways to avoid being in the line of fire. I remember waiting anxiously in a doorway, figuring out what I should do, seeing friends jumping in and getting hurt....

April 18, 2021

Things to learn: a journal post

Sometimes I dream about taking a few years away from everything and reading 40 textbooks and trying to understand how everything works. This is something I felt deeply in high school, and then lost at some point in college, and in the time after college it’s come back with overwhelming force. The thing about this curiosity is that it’s something you need to feed in order to keep it alive; you need to keep setting aside time to learn about the things that fascinate you....

March 3, 2021

measures of my wellbeing

an ongoing list. how easily I can feel wonder from looking up at the sky how much of an urge I feel to check notifications in the morning how at ease I feel going to bed whether my news feed makes me happy or anxious how often I remember that it’s not obvious that there should be a universe at all whether I spend more than an hour in the day reading how comfortable I feel with something I share getting zero reactions how fearful I am of the prospect of something going wrong how patient I am in my interactions with others how vividly I feel the love I have for my parents and brother and friends what about you?...

February 28, 2021

What they don't tell you when you're applying to college

If you’ve grown up in an environment that values prestige and extrinsic accomplishments, applying to college is a major milestone. It’s the culminating event for years of effort: AP exams, extracurriculars, impressing your teachers for reference letters. All for a shot at getting that coveted acceptance letter in the mail. My own experience with college applications was as stressful as you’d expect. I was surrounded by peers who were thirsting for admission to a prestigious university and who felt the pressure to succeed from all directions....

January 31, 2021