(Chemical imbalance)

Ignore me. I’m just another chemical imbalance in the corner of your brain, something none of your reasoning skills can overcome. You can’t understand me. You have no idea what I do and what sort of strange mental obstructions I throw in your way, because I’m more fundamental than that. I’m part of the problem with that leaky abstraction you proudly call “cognition”.

Isn’t it enlightening to know that, like every gush of confusion you’ve experienced every four weeks for the last two years, it can all be resolved by waiting? That all of your troubles can be blamed on something as tangible as a bag of transparent stuff hooked into your shoulder for an hour three days ago, instead of some elusive undiagnosed combination of puberty and synthetic drug collisions and cosmic interference? And that as you’ve tried to disprove fruitlessly just as many times, there is no other way out?

And still, you’re not egotistic enough to completely let go of being so fiercely possessive of your time. You’re still stubbornly optimistic enough that, no matter how many medical calamities the cosmos throws at you, you still think your life is pretty good from a rational viewpoint. Even on days when you find your normal thought process indistinguishable from sleep for two-thirds of the day, you want to take on the thinking and learning responsibilities of a dutiful (read: above-average) teenager. Or, at least, drive yourself mind-bogglingly nuts trying.

Life is hard, isn’t it?

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Juggling Everything

Look.

This is stupid. We’ve had this conversation many times. You can’t do everything. You can’t try to please everybody and stay sane. It’s not possible.

I know, this is another of those scenes that they play out in movies with the protagonist desperately trying to act perfect for every aspect of his or her life, be it school or friends or family. And we both know how you hate watching the poor guy push himself over the edge. Who doesn’t, really?

Except, of course, when you’re in the center of the stage, it’s different. Because all of it matters to you, I think you believe, and because you think you can really juggle everything at the same time, unlike the movie character who has much more exaggerated standards and serious problems to deal with. Past a certain point, you don’t really give a damn about grades anymore, but you at least feel the need to repay your teachers, friends, family for their effort. Plus, there’s the voice telling you that you can’t afford a slip up now if you really want to get into Stanford or MIT.

Well, here’s some news for you: you can’t. You need to chill out.

I don’t know why you have to feel guilty for missing your share of work or every deadline extension you ask for from your teachers. You are not everybody else. Your responsibility of getting ready for the IMO right now is just as important as the mundane school stuff — in fact, it really ought to be much more important, but you’re just too much of an overachiever. And above both of these are your health issues. Whether you like it or not, chemotherapy takes its toll; there are dozens of desperate posts you made to prove that. We know about five people who have to deal with two of these things, and none, I suspect, that have all three. Dealing with everything perfectly would be the ridiculous thing to do.

What is it? Guilt for having such a kind, lenient network of supporters, when there are internet horror stories of teachers who hold drug parties and rape their students? Be thankful, certainly, always be thankful, but stop the guilt; nobody benefits from it. Your standards are high enough already.
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Scheduled Blogging

Some bloggers have a regular schedule for posting and forcing themselves to meet the deadlines. In essence, something like ” updates every Thursday.”

For me, I think this is a bad idea, because it forces me to write. If my day is boring and uneventful as it quite often is and I still have to crank out a post, it would not be a post that readers would enjoy. Better once-a-month enthusiastic, interesting posts then an ugly stream of tedious drudgery for the visitor to wade through every time, stuff like (quoting one random ancient post):

Yay! I got 40.

Well thatz gonna have to wait. No it doesn’t. Yes it does.
Humanities, approx. 10:13

Mr. C gave out our tests. I got a 40/40, a perfect! Not
ONE
single mistake! Oh joy! I secured a 20% out of my daring 98%.

We reviewed it.

A schedule also makes writing a responsibility, which I feel takes away all the fun and enjoyment. From the three hiatuses documented on the about page or looking at any post before March 2010 (by the way, please don’t (I have a feeling this will make more people actually do so via reverse psychology but I don’t even know if I’m not subconsciously secretly enjoying the idea, so anyway)), you can see the result. Pages and pages and pages of documenting my life as if I were an endangered specimen in a zoo. Now I can kind of appreciate it as reminding me of what I was like only two years ago, how differently I saw the world and how I loved hyperbole… but I don’t think anybody else would read it for the content.

Aside: come to think of it, I don’t really see myself as a generally hyperbolic person, even though rationally thinking, it does seem like I do this ALL THE TIME. See what I did there? Sometimes when I’m reading my own posts from a while back I have trouble comprehending that they were written by the same person.

It might also clash with other priorities… as a student, my schedule isn’t packed, but it wouldn’t be easy to fit one more regular hobby into it. And my posts might be rushed, rough around the edges with missing anecdotes, confusing flow, and stupid typos. Knowing how perfectionist I am, maybe I should just accept this and hit the Publish button sooner, but I think a little polishing is definitely necessary.

Of course, maybe I struggle with the idea of regularly scheduled posts because I’m not good enough at writing, at observing the world, at deriving a life lesson from every scrap of overheard conversation, or transforming every small event into a hilarious and thought-provoking narrative, or distilling the magical poetic essence out of every scene of rain and sun and sticking in a metaphor about perseverance. So yes, I’m sure there are bloggers who can do one or all of the above and who can regularly create awesome walls of text. I’m not one of them. (Yet.)

And of course there is an advantage to this schedule, and it can be phrased in the same way to sound cool and stress my point: it forces me to write. I’ll get better at writing, get more ideas out of my brain and onto the blog for other people and my future self to think about, sometimes not even ideas I consciously realized I had before I started writing the post. I’ll get closer to reaching blogging nirvana, having a post idea for every occasion, and my schedule will become sustainable with meaningful posts only.

Unfortunately, writing is not extremely high on my list of priorities, so I guess that’s not going to happen.

I wonder though. Once upon a time I wrote fiction too, when we had writing assignments that weren’t all about analyzing ourselves or important characters in the plot of a book or something. There’s a little bit of yearning for that in me still. But I have only one life to use on these things…

Blog

I feel the need to reaffirm the reason I’m here.

It’s not my first “website”; that honor would go to a confusing tangle of bare-HTML pages hosted on a service in Yahoo! Kimo that shut down eons ago. It took me quite a while to figure out that being able to install every script from Dynamic Drive was nothing to be proud of and not something visitors would be interested in.

Now, as I rediscovered this blog as a more mature person, it took me even longer to figure out that maybe I could produce some content, simply by using words instead of 90% copy-pasted JavaScript hocus-pocus. Because I have a lot of spare time, for doing nothing but thinking… I wanted a place to capture these fleeting thoughts. If I could exhibit them, maybe somebody else would gain from reading them as well.

I feel a need to have something to mark my everyday existence with. Something to claim as my own, a tiny marked intellectual corner of the net. Awards and medals are cool, but they’re just snapshots of a few instants. Implicitly they indicate months or years of hard work (I hope), but the implication is not the same as the real thing.

In five years I will be a different person. In five days I will be a different person, and most of the thoughts I have now would be gone. Already, the time between thinking and getting in front of the computer is enough to snuff an amazing number of thoughts out. I become a secretary simply trying to convey the ideas that were dictated by an interested version of me hours, days, weeks ago. I’ve started keeping a notebook for these kind of thoughts, since getting access to my blog when I think of something significant at midnight is rather infeasible, but I haven’t been using it as much as I’d like. I’m not good at it yet.

The gently boosted reading I’ve done gives me an impression that a solid part of the writer’s job is just living their life, bumping into interesting things, noticing them, and being able to string them together into a coherent sequence of words. The result are books. Maybe, I could write books. Maybe, if I find the right content and use the effort to voice my thoughts and analyze clearly, thoroughly, intelligently, the result would be pretty interesting. Anybody, I think, could do this; I just don’t have that much motivation and self-control. (Not to disparage the achievement of actually writing a whole book and having it widely accepted.)

Nevertheless, I think these stray thoughts can add up to something bigger, something with more meaning than the school essays and whatnot. Or maybe I’ll figure out how to write those in a way that makes it worthwhile for me as well. Ultimately, though, I can’t force myself to come up with something interesting to say, whether about a teacher-chosen topic or not, to meet the deadline.

Writing the thoughts down also allows me to think more deeply about topics. It’s hard to get anywhere on such a bout of free-thinking if I have to start from basic premises every time. But I’m having trouble getting these posts to sufficient depth to satisfy my publishing standards. Perfectionism strikes again! The ideas don’t expire, but the examples or events that provide the motivation fade in intensity often. It’s hard for me to feel like I’ve actually explored every facet of a topic, and when that actually happens I end up moving sentences and paragraphs around, to get that right flow between the lines.

And this blog isn’t a major commitment—I’m convinced that the instant I start treating it as one, the whole point of it will be gone. I’ll start writing posts I don’t feel like writing, feel like I’m doing homework, and go back to procrastinating on Reddit. Cripes.

Some part of me feels guilty for having so much ivory-tower metaphysical rambling and so little “worldly” content to post about. Oh well. Serious perfectionist issues here; there are plenty of other drafts and topics to deal with.