Lately I’ve been trying to identify why I’ve been feeling this undercurrent of unease and anxiety the past several months. It’s been harder for me to live in the moment and feel relaxed and fully absorbed by whatever I’m working on. I feel the draw of consumption as a distraction and method of coping. I’m discovering that these feelings can be attributed in a large part to impatience.
I was talking to Ameesh the other day about how at any given moment in a person’s life, they are either trying to stay the same, content with how things are going, or are actively trying to change. I was reflecting that I’m in the latter state right now. I see a path towards actualizing my dreams and fighting for them when they come into conflict with others, even if that’s really hard for me to do. It’s related to the observation that having smart, reasonable principles in a vacuum is a very different skill from being able to actually implement some effective version of those in a society. It’s academia and society, theory and reality. One allows you to elegantly convey an idea and comprehensively test all possible cases while the other forces you to make practical trade-offs and dirty your hands to make steps forward. There’s a rare skill in being able to do both and maintain hope in idealism while still taking small, potentially winding, steps towards that end vision.
I think I’m good at operating in a vacuum, exploring the wisps of ideas and layering speculative thoughts on top of each other to uncover the essence of a direction. I have an insatiable hunger to push deeper towards a better world and a boundless optimism that drives me towards ideas that seem too good to be true. What I’m not so good at is taking the necessary practical risks to make those dreams a reality, especially when they have dependencies on other people. I’ve been learning to be more selfish—to learn when and how to compromise without apologizing for taking up space or being myself. And reflecting back on my journey, I’ve come a long way from the kid who apologized for interrupting the server at a restaurant or sabotaged his own ideas before releasing them into the world. I think I’ve become impatient because where that goal once seemed so unattainable, I can see it now—I can almost feel and taste it. I’m thrashing to be the version of myself that can do the best of both, and I’ve been growing anxious because I can recognize that I’m not there yet while seeing some final goal destination ahead of me.
My meditation today (another thing I’ve gotten bad at keeping up with which might be contributing to my anxiety) was about patience: how all we can do is set up the right conditions for doing the right things. It’s called “shaping the path” in Switch, tweaking the environment to make the right choice easy. I’ve been struggling uselessly trying to will the change into being, where I need to be focusing my energy on doubling down on the rituals that empower me to be greedier and gamble more on myself, trusting myself to take on any challenge that comes my way. And I need to be patient with myself, trusting the process and that these small changes will build into a wave. And one day that wave will take me to that shining star that feels ever so close now.
This is the 80th installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here.