It’s Time For a Fuck-It Bucket

I’ve just come back from Asia, 2 months living like a monk. During those two months I’ve had my head up my ass, oblivious to a bunch of shit going on in my home land – America. I missed the whole Pokemon Go hype, presidential elections drama, Arthur memes, Harambe memes. And to be honest, it was fucking great. I didn’t have to spend time thinking about these random things. I could focus just on my meditation practice and writing. Landing back in California, I remember my head physically hurting from reading the headlines of all my emails and notifications.

jackie chan

Just at first, I came across this post on Medium: Why It’s Time You Start a Fuck It List

We spend so much time ticking off our to-do lists, making aspirational Pinterest boards, and thinking about our next big goal, dream or plan. And then we wonder why we burnout?

Ask yourself, honestly: How much energy do you dedicate to things that don’t really matter? Or things you think you “should” do, rather than those you actually want to?

Because true balance takes work. It takes sacrifice.

Alright fuck it, let’s go. Write a list, mentally or physically, filled with things not deserving your time. Think of it as an anti-bucket list of sorts. I call mine a Fuck-It Bucket.

Complainers: Especially the passive-aggressive, subtle complainers. Oh my god, I have so many meetings back to back. I have so much to read. I feel like complaining is such a negative energy that kills my motivation and optimism. Especially in college, sometimes we can get into a huge complaining circle jerk that really isn’t beneficial at all. Same goes for me. No more complaining that I don’t want to wake up.

Dessert:  I’ve tried it, it’s just way too sweet. I can do without it.

Gossip: No I don’t want to hear your secret gossip about Suzy over there. I don’t want to talk behind somebody’s back, if you want an impression of them go find out for yourself.

Being Messy: Clean up after yourself, knoll everything. I lived such a simple life in Asia: a 15 lb suitcase, one style of monastic robes – and I noticed a HUGE decrease in stress. My sleep quality improved, I could remember all my dreams! I woke up singing “Here Comes the Sun” from the Bee movie, and skipped my ass out of bed.
Things will definitely change, but this is my fuck-it bucket for this next semester. None of these things matter. By acknowledging them, saying “fuck it” and waving them on their way, I free myself up to  be as energetic and present as possible.

“It’s impossible to be everything for everyone. But if you treat yourself with a little more acceptance and understanding, you’ll find you have so much more to give.” – Bianca Bass

Check out the original post, and comment if you decided to make a fuck-it list yourself! I want to hear what’s on yours.

Cheers!

College is…

Chasing romanticized ideas of some things, then realizing the reality of them.

Having my eyes wide open in my seminar. Soaking everything in, learning so much that I can’t imagine to be asleep. Pages flipping so quickly as everything in my brain is clicking together when looking at past readings.

When relationships get nuanced.

Maturing my naive feelings, and the joy of chasing those matured feelings.

Sitting in the chair of the music library, completely entranced in my readings. I don’t feel my neck pain anymore, because the ideas in my head are flying everywhere and making connections with each other.

Walking frustratingly into office hours driven by questions rather than trying to impress.

Questioning… Questioning why the hell I’m here.

Questioning why I care about prestige.

Not knowing what I’m going to get myself into, then doing it anyway.

Feeling like you’ve met a spiritual sage talking to your professor.

You know that feeling when you have to write a paper that is 7 pages long, and have no idea how the hell you’re going to complete it? But there is the beautiful moment when you get so immersed in the content that you forget about small details like page length. Getting so dedicated to trying to tell the best story, forming the best arguments – then by the time you know it, you’ve exceeded the page length requirement.

Having the autonomy to do what I want, and focusing the things that I actually care about. Then riding on that positive wave of confidence where everything just seems to be getting better. Hitting new PRs (increasing my lifts) everyday in the gym, sleeping better and better, classes getting more engaging and challenging, becoming happier and happier in general.

Being unable to sleep, then playing pool, talking about life, and cooking with friends until 5 AM.

Reading about my culture and things from my childhood – but scribbled in the margins are the confusing inconsistencies stuck in my head, questioning how my values are conflicting with what I’m reading.

Being completely captivated by your math professor.

Doing random things just to spice things up.

Having people you care about that do those random things with you.

Maturing relationships with parents and friends.

Having a lot of things to do but ending up writing anyways because that’s what is more important.

Eating by myself.

Making mistakes, feeling terrible, and vowing never to do them again.

Going to New York during finals week.

Talking late into the night not just about academics but about living life.

Waking up in the morning, jumping out of the bed and skipping to the bathroom with a smile plastered on my face. What a time to be alive.

Having lots of homework to do, then dropping all of it to do something spontaneous with friends. Just to spice things up.

Having friends who are genuinely happy and passionate about life.

 

[This was extremely fun and nostalgic to write! I’m excited to write another every semester/year to see how my college experience matures]

Bleeding

I’ve already become the person I’ve always wanted to be.

I’m driven by a cause, not for applause.

I’ve lived my life to express, not to impress.

I’ve put myself on a rocky path, and have become hypersensitive to action.

But along the way I think I lost my sensitivity to blood.

Every time you bleed I feel like I’m bleeding in a different color.

Sometimes I feel like I need to take a sip to bleed red.

I feel the need to listen to music to open my wounds.

But in the back of my mind I know

They might just be artificial wounds I’m cutting with this poison.

Because after these hours phase, I’m desperately trying to keep these wounds pulled open.

Before they stitch themselves back up and trap this blood inside my skin.

Sometimes it frightens me to think I need to cloak my self behind a Veil to be human.

I remember before, I wished to feel the happiness without the burn.

But this past week I wanted it to burn

So that I could bleed with you.

 

Don’t Pursue Your Dreams

2015 has been the worst year of my life. My mother stopped speaking to me. I had thrown her high expectations of me going to a big reputable school out the window. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do anymore.

I didn’t know what I was supposed to do anymore.

One time she turned to me “what are you doing with your  life?” Then I turned inside, at myself “what am I doing with my life?”

All this time throughout high school, I was pursuing my dreams. I took every AP science test, I studied for the SATs, I was the president of an active club. I was lining up the dots, I was pursuing my dreams! Even though it was tough at times, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.

Self Reflection

After high school, I thrust myself into a world of unknown. Not the unknowns of science, not the unknowns of somebody else’s world – but the unknowns of my own world. And it was empty. I looked around, and I only saw other people. Billionaires glorified in the Silicon Valley. Doctors my parents wanted me to become. I couldn’t even see my own reflection in my own body. Four years ago, this would have been great, even comforting. I just had to follow what other people told me to do, continue to meet the expectations other had for me, then I would be successful.

But now, it was scary. It was scary because I decided to make my own path. I couldn’t find a set tutorial on Google. I couldn’t figure out what to do next like how I followed YouTube tutorials to solve the Rubik’s cube. Even on Quora, I would read stories of all these successful people, but none of them would exactly match mine. In high school, I thought I was making myself stand out and be unique, but in the bigger picture, I was just doing what everybody else was doing. So it was time to buckle down and really figure out why I’m doing things.

Don’t pursue your dreams, pursue your purpose.

Dreams derive from the successful people around you. Purpose derives from self reflection. Pursuing a purpose means that even when shit hits the fan, when you lose everything, when nobody is around to watch, you keep going because that’s the only thing you truly have. The way we teach goals and dreams are wrong. Dreams are tied to professions, salaries, fames. We teach and motivate kids to become doctors, lawyers, when that can result in them mindlessly working for the rest of their lives. Since purposes are not domain specific they can permeate to any profession, daily routines, relationships with other people, attitude towards life – ultimately every aspect of life. The people whose purposes are so strong you can feel it in every interaction with them are the ones that are interesting. And I’m starting to understand what it means to become interesting (it’s the title of my blog!)

Understand the underlying patterns in the things you actually do

I enjoy putting myself through challenges: physical, mental, philosophical, and this has become extremely evident in the types of books I’ve been reading, the kinds of people I follow on Quora, and the things I like to talk about. I enjoy learning new things, especially when I can not currently see myself able to do those things. So my purpose is mastering the hard challenges I see in myself now, and also those that I have yet to encounter. For me, realizing this purpose feels like there is no other way for me to live. The purpose of my life, of my humanity is to master the hard things. Get defeated, maybe even discouraged by the new challenges that arise, then do it again.

So 2015 has been the worst year of my life. 2016, 2017, 2018, … will also be the worst years of my life. They will suck so much because every new day, every new year, I will be questioning what I’m doing. They will suck because I won’t always have the answers. The coming years will suck and be hard because that’s exactly how I want to live.

Now I encourage you to self reflect, you will have to for the rest of your life. Ask why you are doing things, then what you are going to do now. When you can’t find the answers, create your own answers, then share them.

 


 

 

I feel my poem The Cave is especially relevant to this, so feel free to read:

The Cave
It’s the world’s most comfortable place
Comfort zones suck they say, we have to get out
It’s not as simple as it sounds though
It’s not as simple as “stepping out”
It’s so engrained into our brains
It’s engrained in the very essence of our society
Meritocracy, bureaucracy, even our beloved democracy
Each world has a cave of its own
With prizes, titles, time slots to play in a Carnegie Hall recital
To become the president, get tenure, become Silicon Valley’s next billionaire
To enter the elite bubble, stay up there in the untouchable haven
Finding a job will be easy, I’ll have money, It’s so great to be at the top
It’s every high schoolers dream to penetrate those bubbles into Cambridge and New Haven
I know that’s when I’ll have everything on lock
I had to step out my comfort zone to get there
What’s wrong with that?
Nothing is. After all, all we really can see are those dancing shadows
We choose our cave, climb to the top, fight our uphill battles
There really isn’t anything wrong with that though,
People live such happy lives basing it on that
But maybe it’s the comfort of climbing that has made those caves so damn binding

 

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

Psychological Inertia

How can always doing random shit keep you young and lucky?

I thought of this theory about a year ago, and I got inspiration for this idea during my practice for discipline, which I describe in detail here in my Quora answer. Tl;dr: I put myself through small challenges for about 3 weeks each, like waking up early everyday without snoozing, doing 20 pushups a day, meditating at least 10 minutes a day, etc.

The hardest part about these challenges was getting used to changeif I wanted to adopt a new habit, I would have to change my daily routine. Waking up before 8AM everyday at the first ring of my phone’s alarm was annoying, it was uncomfortable. To be honest, I didn’t even have to wake up before 8. I could’ve easily woken up at 8:30 every day and still arrived to class on time, no problem. It’s so cold too, waking up so early in the morning. I could list an infinite amount of excuses, but at the end of the day I was determined to follow through on this challenge. So for the next 40 days, I kicked off my blankets at the first ring of my alarm.

My main blocker in this challenge was moving past the thoughts of discomfort and putting it into action. So the way I went about solving that blocker was to tackle on that discomfort head on. The idea of cold is really interesting because that’s usually where people are most uncomfortable. Ice cold showers suck, so I needed to start there. For one day, I wanted to try something completely new. I was going to get up exactly at 7:30, take off my clothes, and jump into a cold shower.

To be honest, it sucked, a lot. I had this glorified view that after doing this, I was going to be super disciplined, but in the shower I was just a kid shivering his ass off. But what drove me to continue was my desire to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. From then on, I became more impulsive with random things. I started doing random challenges that sometimes made no sense at all. I thought wow it must suck to not eat meat anymore, so fuck it . I’ll be vegetarian for 40 days.

What I started to notice that this mentality started to permeate into my decision making. It made me open to change, hell, it became a habit for me to seek change. Do you know the weird feeling you get when you skip brushing your teeth for a day? I had that weird feeling whenever everything was the same.

At this point in my life, the most important decision that I’ve made so far was coming to Swarthmore. And that was one of the luckiest, and most impulsive decisions I’ve made to date. I was thinking about how much I would succeed if I followed the conventional path of going to a technical school to study Computer Science, then chucked it all out the window when I decided to commit to a liberal arts college with a flip of a coin. This is where the second part comes in: getting lucky. When you decide to do something completely out of your ordinary, you might discover something that you really like. And if you don’t, you will have grown from it and now know what not to do.

If you are evaluating a set of options (people, food, etc) don’t just go with the one that seems to align best with you. Occasionally take a chance on an interesting “bad” option just because it strikes your fancy. Come up with quirky ways to make decisions and use them.

Think of all the possible outcomes you wouldn’t want, say fuck it, and then do it.

Go do random things, get comfortable with the uncomfortable, always keep your mind in motion so that you will never grow old.

References used, you should check these out!
1) Telegraph article on being lucky

2) Yishan Wong’s answer on luck

Collecting life experiences

What’s the point of trying new things?

When I came back home from college, I realized that I was able to more accurately represent and describe what was happening in the present. The things I’ve done so far have given me the context and the language to understand what I was doing. For example, I’ve never been as thorough in studying something before except in my computer science class this past semester. I would go over every lecture, ask my professor questions, and look for further readings to make my knowledge fullproof. I got into the habit of finding people to teach what I was learning to make sure that what I knew wasn’t based of rote memorization, but that I could prove everything. I approached my learning in a way similar to what I read on Quora.

Here’s my short summary of it: The way you should approach learning is to throw out all previous biases and beliefs you have about a subject because they are (probably) unsubstantiated, and because you haven’t proven them for yourself from scratch. This reminds me a lot of mathematical proofs: Of course what you’re reading from the book makes sense, because it’s telling you exactly what to do. And I think that this happens a lot in lectures: of course, whatever a professor says in a lecture is going to make perfect sense to you, but I believe the real test should be whether or not you can convince somebody with no prior knowledge that something is true ,which means that you should be able to build all the basic principles, essentially the entire curriculum, from scratch. (It was an extremely well written answer and I would recommend anybody to spend the time to read it!)

So what did this do for me now? Now that I have more free time, I have picked up learning new things like new web frameworks and machine learning / neural networks. Going through new material now, I noticed myself referencing what I did and how I did things while in that CS class: I tried to replicate my past experiences to make my understanding of any new topics fullproof as well.

This reminded me of the movie Inside Out, how Riley had her memories stored inside orbs. Joy, and other emotions, were able to look into the orbs to remember specific past memories.

INSIDE OUT

Throughout my whole life, I have been storing memories into orbs, shelving them away. In my sophomore year of high school, I used to play a lot of video games – League of Legends. Oh boy. I remember the weeks when I would get home from school at around 3pm then play till 11pm everyday. While I did learn many things from playing League, like goal-oriented practicing, team communication, etc it was ultimately a negative influence in my life. I ate unhealthily, gained a lot of weight, and my performance in social and academic situations suffered. This was definitely a low of my life, especially when I was trying to discipline myself out of playing. After about a year, I figured myself out and was able to stop playing. Like in Inside Out, plop came down a memory orb on stopping my addiction to video games.

At school, there were times I would catch myself falling into the traps of some distractions (watching YouTube videos, playing mobile games, etc.), but this time, I knew exactly what was happening to me. This has happened to me before – getting addicted to something. At times it was even funny, thinking of how I used to be, now that I have grown out of playing League of Legends. I was now confident in my ability to quit anything cold turkey.

Furthermore, I have picked up on a lot more experiences that I can now add to my arsenal of memory orbs: socializing with friends, having fun, playing music, etc. and it only goes up from here. I feel like this is an interesting way to think of going about life – by acquiring experiences.

From now on, I want to enjoy and experience more thoroughly the present, so that I won’t waste time in the future falling into traps I could have avoided. So that I can focus all my effort on experiencing the new, uncharted parts of life.