I have always asked that question.
It’s inherent in me, in both my astrological sign Pisces and my personality type, INFP. People like us wonder at our identity. What do I love, what defines who I am? What are my true passions - what do I want out of life?
Perhaps I struggled longer, or deliberated more on the question because I have so many problems already. Basically, I do not have strengths in any major part of life.
So there’s that. I have barely made any close friends during my four months here. I have gotten low grades. I also do not know what I want to do the rest of my life and struggle with the question “who am I” everyday.
But after looking at my Instagram and all that I’ve posted for the past few months, I could analyze myself objectively. I named my other blog and my Instagram “the blunt artist”. Clearly, I love art. Clearly, I like thinking and discussing deep topics, whether they are personal issues or grander ones such as the extent to which social media detracts from the strength of our relationships. I also love creative writing as seen by the poetry I published in several impulsive urges. I love making meaning out of symbols and other unclear methods. I also love examining beauty and finding aesthetics in the day-to-day meanderings, which is shown by the food photos I take.
So, apart from my grades, what should I focus on?
1) Writing, obviously.
I don’t normally write on my phone. It’s not exactly the greatest platform for writing, but a few times I posted more artistic or sentimental photos on Instagram, I would feel compelled to write poems. Do you know how hard it is to write in such a small caption space? I would want to write even there. That shows how much I need poetry in my life. I don’t even think about it - it just happens.
Of course, I also feel compelled to write things like these. Notes to self, reflections, tidbits of advice here and there, to myself, to others. So I should just keep writing these posts too. It helps myself, adds on to my blog and improves my writing.
It’s artsy. It’s easier than Photoshop, I think. I don’t want to spend my whole day staring at the screen though a nicely designed poster or advertisement is pretty astounding to glare at.
I just looked through the photos I took over summer and it was interesting since I forgot most that had happened - even at the beginning of the semester. The photos reminded me of those glorious days, and I realized I forgot a lot of the fun I had earlier on. Having some memories that are substantiated in photos is nice and better than having nothing and forgetting.
So I should start bringing my camera out more.
I always say that but, seriously.
I should link what I post/write on Instagram onto my blog more. Food pics, other pics, poetry, anything random. Posts can be short. As long as it shows myself. As long as it’s decent and authentic. I shouldn’t wait.
4) Reading. More.
Read anything more. The news, non-fiction books, self-help books, Russian literature, Chinese articles, New York Times, Bloomberg, Seeking Alpha. I want to be smarter after all, don’t I? I love nerds and I want to be nerdier. So here I go.
Read business to become more knowledgeable. So I don’t always say “I don’t know jack about business.” If you don’t know, then you can always know. Read stories because I love stories. Read whatever other crap because why not. I love learning and discovering new things, whether they are new ways to write, or new ways to do whatever. Reading teaches not only what the text informs you, but also teaches you discipline, which you need to learn in life if you ever want to succeed.
5) Thinking about the grander issues of life/the world and being able to debate on it.
If I want to hold a better and more interesting opinion, then I should read more. I should know more so I can make a clear stance as to why I think a certain way, as to why this is what I believe in.
Once I was riding in a car with three guys and girls. The guys talked intently about politics, debating the merits of Obama among other things. We girls just laughed and talked about personal problems. Man.
I long for the day I can discuss politics with men. I long for the day I can be just as educated, just as able to discuss the future of the world with adequate knowledge. I don’t want to be the stereotypical weak woman who only stay home, knit, and cook. I want to independent and strong after all. Reading and knowing more will help me get closer to who I want to be.
6) Startup stuff, definitely.
I started working on this startup recently and I love it even though I'm not even officially part of the company yet, but working just aligns so directly with my goals. I love working. It’s so meaningful. Makes me feel less useless.
My most recent project included writing a business plan, and I realized I was always focused, surprisingly. I didn’t even realize until afterwards that I never do this. I’m usually distracted quite easily, but when working on this plan, I didn’t think about doing anything else. I spent all my time available (at least the last few days) on this plan. So I guess when I put my mind onto something and when I can see the real-world implications, I can dedicate my whole attention and mind to it.
I am also reading the book the founders told us the read voluntarily and ardently. We only had to read a few chapters, but I wanted to read the whole thing. I want to soak up all the information because what I learn is applicable. I can see real-life implications and meaning in doing this task. I also get good ideas from it for the business plan, which the founder (boss) pointed out and complimented me on. So that’s double the incentive. In the future, I might want to start up something, so this is helpful either way.
I actually love working. It’s so fun without the social and life part.
Then here’s how I can achieve those goals and keep furthering my interests:
1) Set aside a time to work on each activity. And be specific about it.
What are you going to do and what will you accomplish? Schedule it. Literally add an hour of “writing” into my schedule. And then turn off all distractions and write. Fucking do it.
I spent a lot of time re-evaluating my first semester of college these days and realized that while the laptop is convenient, using iCal to record my events didn’t work that well. I would forget things, and would seldom actually follow my calendar.
Perhaps I should get a paper calendar. Or I should just write down things I need to do everyday, or every week.
Ex. Every week, I should read 30 pages, write one blog post, use my camera once etc.
2) Share my interests more with others.
Most of the time I’m scared to share these with others due to fear of their judgment. They’ll think, “you like writing but you still suck?” Or, “you don’t even get photography - why are you saying it’s your hobby?"
But I should just throw those thoughts away. Just fucking do it. Say you’re new and you’re not that great but you love it and you’re going to improve. And you know what, they might turn out to be helpful resources who can even help you.
3) Turn off all distractions.
Turn off your phone for hell’s sake. Don’t give a shit what people are talking about in your group chat. You can always catch up later. Focus now. Think of discipline. Think of delayed rewards. That’s what makes you human, after all.
FYI, I deleted my Snapchat. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life at all. I would probably delete Instagram and Facebook if not for its overriding benefits (for now).
4) Tell others to monitor you.
Tell your friends, GF/BF or whomever about your goals and what you want to do. Sometimes being your own supervisor is not enough. You need others to catch you off guard, to pull you up when you fall down, or just to slap you hard.
Recently, I got caught up with one of my friends from middle school. I told her that I always want to read but never push myself to, then we decided to be reading buddies. We are pushing each other now, setting a quota of ten pages per day. I didn’t do it the first day (sigh) but I will read 20 pages today to make up for it yesterday.
5) Think about the end result.
You’ll finally be able to brand yourself. You’ll finally be an expertise in a certain area. You can now tell people that “this” is you, that this is what you love and you can show it now.
So there’s that. This is how I will become more myself. This is how I will become a better person this semester/year/life.