Oh snap, now I'm 21 years old. That's pretty scary; humans just keep getting older. I think I've basically sucked quite a bit at life these past two years. Been a lot less independent, less of a real human doing things, and generally getting sucked up into the social fabric of stuff. And in the moments when I can reflect, I regret a lot of it. One thing that strikes me is that earlier this year I stopped journaling out of basically laziness and because my journal paper was feeling too thin. Instead of spending the extra few dollars to buy a journal with thicker paper...I just let this 6+ year habit die. So that was probably a fucking mistake.
Otherwise, it's not like I haven't learned more stuff. In college, I got a bit better at algorithms. Stuff which used to be confusing is now less so. But I think that's sort of the optimistic default if you find yourself in an institution which at least tries harder than other places to do the learning thing right. So that's not much of an encouraging sign.
I think I basically hecked up all of the rationalist virtues, and there's very little of instrumental rationality that I'm doing in my day-to-day. And sort of because of that or something (there's some sort of interaction going on here between cause and effect), I've been stalling on updating mindlevelup. I'd previously written about those essays capturing a certain state of mind I used to inhabit, and editing is now much harder if I can't easily relate to those feelings. So I'm glad the initial chronicle happened, but I'm less sure if I'll ever finish the rewrite.
I spent the summer interning at Microsoft, which I think was basically a big mistake. I got paid quite well, and I learned very little. My team was not great, and I had a pretty bad time socially. I think I should have done some undergrad research or something which would have given me more room to grow. The corporate-ruins-everything atmosphere killed it for me.
Obviously the correct thing now is to make plans and then try to act on them and then reevaluate to see if I'm more satisfied in a few month's time. We'll see if that happens when I get to the end of this post.
I think the biggest thing I've learned recently about myself is how strongly my self-worth is tied to my ability to output interesting work/ideas/art/writings. If I'm not doing that, there's less I can tie myself to, less I can identify with, and just generally less that I can think about myself.
Also I stopped periodically exercising. Pretty sure that screwed me over. I'm slowly getting back on that, so I feel less bad about that. Figuring out food was annoying this last quarter in college, and I really wish I had just bought more MealSquares to start with. And then when I finally realized, I didn't order any more because of sunk costs and how far along the quarter I was. So that didn't really go well.
I planned an escape room for my friends recently, which went pretty well. (See how I just tried to bring up something I did to establish my self-worth as a person? I'm pretty sure there's a big philosophical discussion looming about what the relative pitfalls of how my views on self-worth, but I don't think we'll be able to fully explore it here.)
I think the scariest thing is just how much less eloquent I've become. I think I've read less this year (helped only recently by my acquisition of a sick e-reader that has a big screen and doesn't suck for reading), and I've noticed myself both stuttering and slipping up syllables. Which is terrifying for someone like me who used to regard themselves as having a way with words.
Anyway, I guess the moral of this story or something is that life has ups and downs, and progress isn't a save point (hello smart idea from 2016), and that I've basically borked myself over in many, many ways, which probably all worked together to conspire to make things harder. Taking this perspective is good in that in untangles some of them, but there's still a lot of stuff left.
Just had a conversation with C about taking hard classes and challenging oneself. Somewhere along the line, I started just skating by with the bare minimum in college. I think that most of my spare time has been eaten up by a small void of task switching, where I'm aimlessly checking Gmail, Reddit, and Facebook. It ain't great. I'm a little jealous that he's got this chance to take some hard classes, and he's certainly got a snobbier attitude now. But he certainly has a right to, in some sense. He is doing more to further himself than I am.
(Something-something about other self-worth theories. Whatever. Not important for right now.)
So now I find myself in the position of realizing a whole bunch of stuff is borked, wanting very much for it to get un-borked, and doing some slight things to fix it all. What are some upstream things that can help me, according to my own brain spending 1 minute thinking?
- Regular sleep schedule.
- Walk outside more.
- Get more outside air.
- Work outside more.
- Eat healtheir and eat more.
- Exercise regularly.
- Spend 1 hour everyday thinking hard about a problem.
- Write blog posts regularly. Get back to a weekly schedule.
- Just buy the damn journal and start writing again.
I thnk that number 8 is really for my own sanity. If I don't see tangible manifestations of my thoughts, then it feels like I don't really have them.
I think my biggest rejoinder to the above will be some combination of "I'm tired, it's hard, and, I'm afraid I don't have enough time". The last fear has to do with preserving Slack, which is probably instrumentally good in the same way that power is isntrumentally good for AIs. But the whole point is that you can cash it out to achieve outcomes you want, and I should probably be cashing it out more.
Maybe it's time for a drink.
(Just kidding, I still have some moral inhibitions; I haven't completely borked myself.)