honestly, __goals

Honestly, I realize that I should expand my vocabulary beyond honestly, but it’s honestly just so hard to do so when I honestly am trying to be honest.

PS: As a disclaimer please don’t read this unless you want to, myself since I wrote it I probably know most if not some of the info and if not then who cares it doesn’t matter.

So I’ve been doing absolutely nothing for like 4ish days and I’m feeling pretty darn terrible so I’m writing something for myself so I don’t go crazy or whatever.  I think learning happens through the contrast between failure and success.  If I always fail, then I’m always uncertain on how to succeed, but if I always succeed I am unable to be inquisitive on how to further fulfill my values.  I believe this means goal setting is particularly important.  Success shouldn’t be so easily achieved, but I shouldn’t be set up for failure, either.  A delicate balance between impossible and probable has to be achieved.  I also like to keep goals personal.  If I make the goal an outside one, like achieving a certain grade on a test, then that leaves me open to circumstantial uncertainties preventing me from reaching my goal.  I like to look at how I do based on what I put in, not what I get out because the output is affected by so many variables that I, unfortunately, cannot control.  Of course, if I want SMART(super methodic and really tiring) goals then I also need some way to judge my progress and for that… well I haven’t figured that out but I am thinking of creating a schedule and judging myself based on how closely I can stick to that schedule.  I am unable to currently reach my goals because I don’t know what I value and how I should frame my goals to fulfill my values, don’t know how to make measurable goals that are personal, and I honestly feel stunted by having failed so often in so many things.  Essentially, I need to find words that better fit the role of honestly for me than honestly, but it’s honestly quite difficult.   I clearly should just go back to procrastinating the literal day’s worth of homework I have been assigned over break and marvel at how life can literally seem so dull during my consumption of mass media.

 

This post came about after a significant failure for me where I wondered if my shame could possibly equal the pain resulting from loss of senses, but the failure was objectively pretty small in the grand scale of things and I felt unjustified.  I felt like I had worked kinda hard(but not that hard), but there were a lot of things that made my goal unnecessarily difficult and while I need to accept that I could have done better, I also need to realize that perhaps my goal was too open to corruption from the outside. (aka your test proctor is probably not taking their job seriously enough if they’re calling people while the test is going on, leaving the door open so all kinds of wonderfully loud traffic noises can seep in, and allowing students to sit within a foot of each other on connected tables)

It’s been raining and it’s cloudy and wet clothes make me uncomfortable

Arrogance is overrated.  I was walking down the street the other day and some dude was boasting about his 34 on the ACT and I just thought like “pshh, boasting about a 34 what a loser!”.  Honestly, I hate people who rely on depreciating others to feel good about themselves.  Such uninspired hypocrisy really makes me laugh.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been pelted by 7(?), 8(?), 9(?), 10(?) storms of various intensities.  My dear Vida has taken the beatings with pride, and I’m sure she’ll be alright- I can remember far darker times.  Still, with a crew size of one, it’s sure been hard to pilot the ship and bail at the same time.  Another hand would be nice if only to share the fricking mortgage for the boat.  Already, the deluge has caused a lot of the cargo to be tainted and there are a couple of dangerous dents near the Captain’s room.  Luckily, the forecast tells that the weather’s clearing up soon so I’m hoping to have some time to drain some of the water out.  In only a couple more weeks I’ll reach my destination and get to relax for a while until my next trip.  I can’t wait.

Fear of failure, of mediocrity, of loneliness. I fear these and many more.  One day – a day soon and late- there will be change.  Right now, I just want to crawl inside a blanket inside of a blanket inside of a room inside of a house inside of a dream and silently suffocate peacefully in order to escape from the pouring rain outside.

 

 

 

There is an infinite multitude of things I could be better spending my time on but my low level of intellectual capacity limits me to such a capricious decision.

Anyhow, hard work =/= success.  It simply does not.  The amount of effort and time, blood and tears, sweat and lactic acid, that you squeeze out of your body does not and will never guarantee anything.  You could play basketball spiritedly for 8 hours a day 17 years in a row and never even get into the high school basketball team.  I mean, you might not even have a high school to go to in your area.  Your success will always lie on a probability graph, and the odds are not often on your side.  There have been times when I succeed despite working very little and times when I have tried my heart out and failed.  So what do I do?  What does anyone do when hard work, the only medium where your ability can always be expressed, lets you down?  A couple things, I guess, though I would not appraise any of my ideas too highly, have helped me in the past.

Seek to understand that life is a process of bettering one’s understanding of themselves and that even failure contributes to that cause.  I picture life as a mountain, with its summit high above the clouds.  A series of steps takes you to fulfillment, but to go on them requires fortitude and endurance.  No one succeeds in one step, and each attempt brings you closer to the summit where the clouds disperse and you can finally envision your true destination.  I feel like self-discovery through trial and error is only really possible with hard work because otherwise, you will never learn what you’re really capable of.  How can you know yourself when you’ve never brought yourself to a place where your innermost qualities can come surging forth?  Perhaps you fail and you realize that you cannot reasonably succeed on this path.  Maybe you were exceptional at basketball while young and always wanted to enter the NBA but then stopped growing at 5′ 2”.  Even if your dream is unachievable, those steps that you’ve taken have still aided in your path towards understanding who you are and who you need to be in the future.

Also, this isn’t a common problem but sometimes exceptional people are let down when they do not feel like they do not need to work hard to succeed.  A friend of mine felt let down when he easily qualified for the USAMO.  He’s an incredibly diligent person, and the experience of not having to work for his success depressed him for a while.  His apparent easy success contrasted sharply with his understanding that hard work was necessary.  I told him to broaden his horizons and understand that perhaps this success is not really what he wants.  What kind of self-discovery has he made by showing himself to be in the top 300 in the nation for math among high school and underage children?  The effort, the path he took to that goal was negligible at best.  I thought he should set his goals higher or in things that he finds difficult so that he is able to reap the benefits of hard work.

But honestly, I don’t know.  I am literally procrastinating by writing about the importance of hard work to self-realization and fulfillment, so I sense that perhaps I am not the best lecturer of hard work out there.

P.S. I do think there is another benefit to hard work, which is the loss of individuality and the sense of community often formed in either engrossing oneself in work or working hard with others.  I think too much individuality leads either to arrogance or to a hyper-extended view of the world that minimizes one’s impact to the point of nihilism.

-JK

 

 

I wish I was you.  But I’m me, and there’s no changing that.  

I think that most people unless they’re super narcissistic have insecurities that they see bettered in other people.  I can’t help but feel envious of those people, because while I understand that they’ve most likely worked harder or cared more or been more present- I still wish I was like them.  I know that I certainly don’t care for what it took to get them there, but I still have a lingering wish to be them.  Sometimes, this envy grabs back onto me and turns into self loathing, a faint miasma of futile hatred that clings to me whenever I think of how other people are better than me.  “I suck at ___ and ____ and ___ compared to _________, I’m so bad at everything and I know that I also don’t want to work hard so I’ll never reach the level I want to be.”  It’s not like I have deep resentment towards myself for not working hard.  I am literally me, so I know that I have my reasons for not working the hardest I could possibly work.  For example, I’m writing on this blog instead of studying for whatever because I like writing on this blog.  I think this blog is helpful for me, even though it may not increase my comprehension in the subjects that I most desperately wish I was better at.  But I can’t help but always feel bad about myself and of my failure to better push myself.  I know that I’ll never be able to push myself to the level I want to and that I’ll end up feeling worse towards myself when I meet yet another who is far superior to me.  This leads to a sense of dejection, close to nihilism, where nothing I do will matter and nothing seems to lead me in the right direction.

 

My current solution to this problem is actually a sense of the world akin to nihilism.  Relatively speaking, I may be objectively worse than someone else.  Yet, on a scale the size of the Universe or even Humanity, neither of our contributions will realistically affect anything.  Even if someone is better than me, even if I cannot work hard to catch up to them because I am unable to push myself to their standards, as long as I am attempting to continually refine myself I can be satisfied with that because they will lack perfection also.  Neither of us are competing to change things on a grand scale, or against each other in life.  I don’t need to worry that I’m so much worse, and I should not focus on trying to copy someone else’s talents because they aren’t me.  I can only hope to be the very best that I can be, and will only limit myself by focusing on the flaws that I can see by comparing myself with others.  Of course, other people are great whetstones to learn from and to refine myself against but whetstones sharpen a knife from a state of dullness, they do not replace the knife altogether.  I have yet to meet someone who I believe is better than me in every single possible way but I think that hopefully, my philosophy will carry me forward even in that scenario.

I see you

I see you, taunted and laughed off.

I see you, ignored and cast off.

I see you, lingering in the shadows behind the basketball hoops just watching, watching.

I see you, always hurrying to places that you don’t need to be so you can pretend to do.

I see you, with your long sleeves and the razor blades in your locker.

I see you, with your timid smile always hoping someone will notice.

I see you.

I see you, but it takes a while for me to see again once I see you really smile,

I see you, always following the rules and never hurting anyone else,

I see you, listening to lectures and talks with an unmatched desire to learn,

I see you, practicing shot after shot every day,

I see you.

I wish you did too.

 

I do, I really do. I hope that all those who feel mistreated and unwanted find strength in their experiences and realize their graces.  I hope they all never stop trying to improve their lives and they get past the turbulent years of neglect from the world.  But I also hope that people never resort to self-harm, suicide, school shooting to make themselves feel better.

Self-harm often involves the usage of a sharp object to cut open a blood vessel.  People who feel like they have done something wrong, who want to escape their dark reality, or those preparing for death often self-harm.  They want the momentary pain, the high as adrenaline fills the body, the light-headedness as major blood loss occurs, the pool of scarlet that they have made with their own hands.  Self-harm is a terrible form of escapism.  Nothing changes through self-harm except the potential of awakening some special interests.  Maybe it could spark the interest of a teacher, a counselor, a parent, but the bullying is not made any more real by a physical manifestation.  Talking would more than suffice for change to occur and this communication could even be anonymous through emailing the school or calling the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255.

Suicide is never the change to want, of course, and I hope people realize this.  Perhaps it would have been better never to exist, or to exist as something else or someone else.  Perhaps it would have been better to have been the popular kid everyone likes, an eagle soaring free, a cat with human servants and a worry-free life.  Perhaps.  But it certainly is not better to stop existing.  Life is attachment, and there are things that even the most downtrodden look forward towards.  Death is nothing, or perhaps if you have faith it is everything, but either way, it is wrong to die.  There are ways to die meaningfully, but not through suicide.  Suicide is either an attempt to escape the angst of life or an attempt to force change upon the school or the bullies or society.  But where does one escape to in death and what change will one death make?  Far better to stay in the known world and make a positive change with one’s one life.

Shooting down the entire school does not count as a positive change.  Bullies often hold some sort of power over their victims, this could be socially or physically or in held material.  Victims often seek to right this power imbalance by making this power difference irrelevant or reducing the power difference.  School shooters are often victims of bullying who turn to guns to right the power imbalance or to get back at their bullies.  I often wonder how much school shooters contemplate their actions.  No matter how much pain they have caused someone, do these bullies, who are siblings and friends and children, really deserve death?  Are their actions worthy of them to stop existing?  Is there any way to prevent the bullying or right the power difference without using a gun?  Calling authority figures, changing schools, getting really good at kung fu.  What does one plan to do after the shooting?  Does one kill themselves, or turn themselves into prison, or let themselves be shot?  What about one’s parents, siblings, friends?  How will they feel?  Where will one’s future self go, the soldier or teacher or businessman or actor or musician?  Does one really want to spend one’s life ending the lives of others?  I don’t know the answer to these questions, never even had to face them.  I hope others will never have to face these questions either, but that they will think about them if they must.

This has been written for others, unlike most of my writing which is for myself.

I hope this makes a difference.  I hope people remember that I see you, and so do others.

The big D-

The big D- forever bereft of Vitamin D- becomes much bigger after the Curtains close,      Seemingly primrose quiet- till unleashed Hotspur valiance opens eyes-                               And spawns a new generation of D’Arcs and Hamlets to prove her right.

Emily Dickinson is widely regarded as one of, if not the best, American poet ever.  Her poetry is wonderfully convoluted and features incredibly vivid images.  But it took years after her death for her poems to be published, and many years more till they were published in the format she envisioned.  Higginson, who edited the earliest publications of Dickinson’s work, altered her poems grammatically and syntactically.  He added titles to poems that had purposely not given titles, replaced words to better fit his interpretation of the text, and generally did his best to dumb Dickinson’s work down.  Many believe Higginson would not have done the same to a male poet because surely males have the ability to write correctly unconventional work.  It is a true pity that such an excellent poet was forgotten before she was even remembered, dismissed by gender.  But that was a century ago!  That was before women were given the right to vote and laws prohibited sexism in America!  One, maybe even two lifetimes ago.  Surely gender is no longer an issue in America and other developed countries.  Surely, not.

Conversation between an S and a C:

S: Darn!  I can’t believe there’s so much sexism in America today!

C: Sorry?  Uh no, sexism is gone now.  Women just need to step up their games.

S: …Who are you?  Wait no that’s not true!  Just look at the wage gap!

C: Yeahhhh no, look dude first of all the gap’s tiny, who cares that women earn $0.80 for every dollar a dude makes?  Also, the gap’s there cause women just don’t farm degrees like men do.  It’s the games, y’know.  Like if women played _____ then obviously  there would be no gender gap.  Sexism just isn’t a problem anymore.

S: ………(contemplates how to break the news)

S: Okay.  So I know not all of those who do not believe in sexism are… uh…. like you but I feel my intelligence waning so I’m just going to leave now.

C: Whatever dude, but I’m telling you there aren’t any gamer girls out there.

So this imaginary conversation displays the idiocy of both sides in the argument surrounding sexism.  There are differences in the treatment of women vs. men in America that are due solely based on gender.  For example, on average women face more harassment than men.  But the wage gap is a weak example of sexism because the issue is so complicated.  How does one estimate all of the factors accurately?  If there is a man and a woman in the same profession working the same hours making the same impact with the same people overseeing them than perhaps there could be a comparison made solely on gender.  But there isn’t, and it’s impossible to figure out what percentage of the wage gap is truly due to gender discrimination instead of say, the time out of work due to maternity leave.  4%?  1%?  I do not doubt there is some difference, but an unreliable statistic is worse than no statistic at all.  But there is certainly a difference.  But one may argue that the difference is inherent, that men and women are obviously different.  They have different levels of different hormones, different levels of brain activity, different levels of being able to have children.  But are these biological differences really the full reason for the cultural differences?  Is it just due to biological differences that more males play games than females?  That the kinds of games played are so different?  And even if all the catcalling and objectification and rape have their roots solely in biology, should not there still be attempts for change?

The answer is very clearly unclear, and the inability of people to see eye to eye on gender equality only heightens the issue.  Suddenly conversation becomes less communication than constant distortion, a mass of static with only the worst words making their way through.  A feminist becomes a “feminist”, a person against feminism becomes a sexual harasser,  a woman expressing pride through different clothing choices becomes a slut, a principal trying to reinforce the storied dignity of their school becomes a girl-shamer.  Moreover, arguments are refuted before they are even stated, then changed to fit whatever agenda must be kept.  One refutation I have heard many times of the wage gap is a question phrased so, “If the wage gap exists why don’t businesses just hire women instead of men?”.  The wage gap means that on average, women are paid less than men.  It does not mean that women deserve to be paid less than men.  The wage gap does not justify hiring women instead of men, unless businesses go out of their way to only hire women simply so that these women can be paid less than men would be paid if men were being hired at all.  Whenever I hear or read arguments like that I almost understand how people would rather stick to creating their opponents arguments for them rather than actually listening to the opposing side’s views.  Even though I don’t believe the wage gap is a solid piece of evidence to use for sexism, this argument was clearly made without understanding of what the wage gap even is.  But ignoring this question entirely would leave at least one person just as not understanding as they were before, so I took the time to answer as best I could.  Maybe you can try doing so too.

 

Thank you,

J.K

 

P.S. The answer of listening more is so often preached that people often forget to actually do it.  Even if one does not forget, it’s hard to calmly listen to something that one vehemently disagrees with.  But it’s important and I wish I did it more myself.

 

I choose… you (_insert here_)?!

Decisions are hard.  Some decisions are automatic, because the problem is obvious and the solution equally clear. When I get hungry, I eat food. Other decisions are not so clear cut. For example, I’ve done a ton of running with my cross country/long distance team in the past.  But this year, I wanted to try something new.  Dare I try a different sport?        Or do I stick comfortably with running, isolated by a large friend network and complete knowledge of all that lies ahead?  Isolated, because while I have experience and many friends in running these chain me to a sport I don’t necessarily enjoy.  I enjoy running, but only to a certain extent and only when I am able to really gain from the experience.  There are many meets that all runners, even slow ones like me, are forced to go to that are not fun and take up a significant portion of time and don’t provide me with opportunities for growth.  But at the same time it seems ludicrous to change to a different sport after so much time spent running, especially in a completely different sport with mainly people I don’t know.  The decision is so difficult because the need is unclear and so therefore is the solution.  I don’t know what I really want.  Do I want to keep my friendships and my safe experience alive?  Or do I want to try something new and challenge myself to forge a different path for myself?  What value do I most value?

The worst part of any difficult decision is the regret associated with it.  I know that whatever decision I make I will definitely regret it at some point.  I already regret my decision to make a decision at all.  But the regret is far worse if no decision is made at all.  Everything seems to be a mistake, and the solution I have found is to make the decisions as thoroughly as possible.  I talked to my coach, friends, analyzed the pros and cons, thought the decision over and over again, and made it as early as I could.  Even then I feel regret, but at least I know that I tried to make a decision and I tried to make a well informed decision.

Decisions are the dilemma of free choice.  I hate them and often wish I could just get rid of decisions altogether.  I sometimes wonder if choices are really necessary but that question will remain unanswered because I have the choice to answer that question.

 

On the less personal side of things …

One choice I have some experience in making and thinking a lot about is the issue of recommendations.  Who should one ask for recommendations for college or summer programs?  Not me!  That’s for certain… But maybe the person you do ask is someone you admire.  It’s easier to trust a person to to write about you when you trust that they are a good person, that they are worthy to decide your capabilities.  I would make a list of pros and cons about that person’s qualities and then decide if that person is someone you should admire.  Also, that person should have the ability to articulate the qualities you want to show to wherever you’re applying to.  Do person write english good?  What program or college are you applying to and what qualities do you want to show that maybe your recommenders can attest to?

I don’t know, and maybe I don’t even care.  Sometimes I know it doesn’t matter but I try anyways because running taught me to never stop moving, even if it didn’t teach me to move fast.