Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Long Ways to Go

The countdown has begun. I officially have less than a month before school starts.

It has not hit me yet. A lot of my semester friends have already left for or started university, but the person I hang out with the most is also on the quarter system so the absences aren't really noticeable. But it really should be hitting me, because this weekend my family drove down and walked around campus, and then we bought a bunch of dorm stuff. I know which residential hall I'll live in, and I submitted my bike order form, and a family friend presented me with the board game Stanfordopoly.

My ego is going to die once I hit campus, because for the first time in a long time I will be below average. I need to be prepared for that, I keep telling myself, but I enjoy power and superiority so much that I may have difficulty dusting off the part of me that is used to failure.

I haven't done anything really incredible in my life, so I know that I was admitted because of my potential. I really want to live up to it: I can bear the thought of failure as long as it is temporary but if I don't end up successful and wealthy and self-sufficient and independent, then I will be letting a lot of people down. The most important one being myself. I just really want to succeed.

What do I mean by success? I keep on using that word or variations thereof, so I should examine what that means to me.

I have ambitious dreams. My current ideal future:

Major in civil engineering and minor in computer science at Stanford University. Complete a graduate degree (Masters or PhD?) in civil e at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (*cries*). Get some experience in a global firm working on water infrastructure in developing countries. Go rogue and start my own firm, partnering with microloan companies, health groups, education initiatives, and the Gates Foundation to go into the poorest parts of the world where we will work closely with communities to get them the things they need: sewage systems, clean water, roads, bridges, cheap sustainable housing, etc. so that residents can get educated, go to university if they want, start businesses, implement agricultural best practices. In doing so we will promote human rights, political representation, and protection of indigenous cultures.

If needed, I will also work on terraforming Mars for human habitation in case the earth looks like it's going to explode.

While I write and publish my stories and learn whatever languages are most commonly spoken in the countries where I work.

My plans may change; I know that. But I think that, no matter what changes, my definition of success will look something like this: make enough money that I can do what I want free of debt and take care of my parents when they are retired. Attain mastery (and recognition?) in my profession. Create things (what things? Who knows?) of high worth and value, which decrease human suffering. Be able to explore interesting ideas and develop my skills to their utmost. Do important work.

I get discouraged when I look at where I am now and where I want to be. The disappointment in myself is normal and necessary ("if you do not seek perfection you will halt before taking your first steps"--Eliezer Yudkowsky, "The Twelve Virtues of Rationality"), but the discouragement is temporary and damaging.

I need to figure out ways to keep myself in the right sort of mental state: dissatisfied with my current imperfection, but full of energy and will to improve. I think it's going to take fresh air, silence, solitude, light, and meaningful intermediate projects, among other things. A lot is physiological.

In another four weeks, my life will get a lot harder than it has ever been. I need to take care of myself so that I can do well and grow from my experiences, so that I will be able to take on bigger and more important challenges in the future. I need to make sure I'm okay, so that I can also be great.


Angry music is therapeutic. Warning: F bombs detonate in this song.

A Step Back - Evans Blue


The title of this post is false literally and true metaphorically.


  1. Your future lacks cats.

    There's a lot of shit that will happen in your first year of college that may change your outlook on life, change your career aspirations, etc. But even so, there is the possibility that those things will reaffirm your original goals and push you to achieve them. There's a lot of shit that could happen, so just keep trucking along.

  2. Dream big girl!! And be the very best you can be...you may end up not being mediocre at all ;-)
    Good luck!