That Kind of Man

Is this who I am?  Sometimes I catch myself acting differently around different types of people. This post is for me to look at when I’m too busy, caught up in life and need a reminder of why I’m here. This post is for me so I can hold myself to my degree of integrity. This post is for me to look at when I feel like I’m having conflicting identities.

This is for me…

I want to be the kind of man who is interesting, regardless of who I am with.

The kind of man who spends life finding value he can give to others.

The kind of man who is creative and confident in his imagination.

A man of kindness and affection.

The kind of man able to articulate his thoughts clearly through every medium: words, music, speech, art.

The kind of man who is not absent minded, intensely focused and aware of every moment.

The kind of man who builds an image of himself as someone motivated by learning difficult things.

The kind of man proud of having worked hard rather than being smart and talented.

The kind of man who not just experiences, but also puts into words and shares with other people.

The kind of man who looks for change.

The kind of man who sees the value in you before you need to say anything.

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A best friend.

The kind of man with eyes that look into your soul and makes you want to tell stories about yourself.

The kind of man who won’t stroke your ego but will build you up.

A mentor.

The kind of man who sees the beauty of ideas before everybody else does.

The kind of man who is comfortable showing affection.

The kind of man who makes you think and feel…

The kind of man you notice when he’s in the room and the one you miss when he’s not.

Spontaneous.

The kind of man who acts out of love and passion.

The kind of man who is educated and talks about issues that matter to people.

The same person in work and play.

The person who makes you think about things you’ve never thought about before.

The kind of man who doesn’t need to tell people about starting, but shows up with progress.

The kind of man who never grows old because he is always changing things up in his life.

The kind of man who laughs at his mistakes.

The kind of man who wanders the path of questioning and failure, but never forgets to look at the beauty around him.

That

kind

of man.

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This post was inspired by a similar post Andrea made, thanks for making me think about myself in this manner.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

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Integrity: Why I cared so much about prestige

I’m back home for winter break, where I’ve had the opportunity to meet with members of my family. Being raised in an Asian family, the topic  brought up the most in family dinners is college. Which college my relatives got into, which college I’m attending now, etc. And I know many people who go to a relatively small school can relate – when people ask me where I go to school, I already expect that the person asking will have never heard of Swarthmore. Even before the semester started, when my peers were talking about matriculating into extremely reputable institutions, I was uncomfortable – I would even say shameful, when I would tell people where I was going. Why was that? Sure Swarthmore is a reputable school in the academic world, but my family here doesn’t know anything about it. Many people my age in California haven’t heard of my school before. So why was this?

I wanted to have a name brand school under my belt so that I could show it off, or as one of my friend put it: “I wanted to cower behind a Harvard label so that every time someone asked me where I went to college, I could pretend that I was really smart and successful.” I truly believed that my self worth was defined by what college I attended, and what everybody else thought about it. I had judged people based on what colleges they attend, and being on that other side of the judgment now has taught me a lot about what I valued. Throughout high school, I had some insecurities about what I was capable of, how “intelligent” I was compared to other people. And I thought that if I ended up attending a brand name school, I would be able to patch up those insecurities and (falsely) reassure myself. But that’s just the easy way out, it doesn’t tackle the real problems at the core. One of the most difficult experiences I’ve been facing so far in college is finding out what I value, and more importantly, holding a sense of integrity with myself. I don’t want to be somebody who isn’t comfortable with himself, and going down this path, staying true to myself, would require much more thought and hard work.

I was talking with my friend the other day about how we judge people first by their college. And then after this segment of life, we judge them by their employer. Judging somebody that works for a prestigious company (Goldman Sachs, Google, etc.) differently than somebody who works somewhere else. It truly is sad how the majority of people judge like this, but there isn’t much (or anything) I can do about changing how other people think. If I want to uphold some sort of integrity with my life, might as well figure it out now right?

Most people associate things like intelligence, social capacities, whatever else based on an institution. But I don’t think that it should be this way, rather, it should be with qualities. For example, with my insecurity of intelligence, instead of complaining about how I won’t have some brand name label to cover up my intelligence, why not just actually study and learn. Fix the root problem here. This is what I’ve started to realize: The most important things are qualities, like discipline, passion for learning, hard work, generosity, compassion. I shouldn’t be associating myself with institutions, but with qualities. But wait, don’t people already do that? I do know people for their friendliness, passions, etc. But you only really get to know these sides of people when you talk to them and really get to know them. So my solution is to make those qualities about yourself extremely salient. To wear a badge of compassion like you would a logo of your alma mater. To be proud and confident enough about your passion for learning that that is the first thing people think about when they hear your name. That’s the way I would want to live, because those qualities are things that I have to built up by myself. I have to deal with them everyday, and it would be amazing if all of those qualities were true. Sure I can say I am hardworking, I can say whatever the hell I want. But if I’m at home watching tv shows, wasting time, I am not being integrous to myself. I wouldn’t have to always be acting on my “A game” because that’s who I really am.

Sure this is a much harder path, but I chose this path exactly because it was hard, because it’s the only way I’ll be true to myself.

first collection
Swarthmore Class of 2019’s first collection