Privilege

More today then ever before, I have heard people talk about privilege.

“You have the latest iPhone, you can’t possibly complain about your life now.”

“You live in an area wealthier than 97% of he worlds population. How could you complain about anything?”

“You have a perfect life. Don’t try to bring up your superficial problems with me!”

See, the really infuriating thing about problems is that everybody ha them, regardless of what social, economic or political class you reside in. They may not be the same universal problems, but they are still problems nonetheless. You can’t discount one person’s suffering just because they aren’t suffering in the same way as someone else.

Using the old Albert Einstein quote, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Strangely enough, the same concept can be applied for problems too. No, that pastry rich kid might not have any struggles with hunger to speak of, but did you know that he’s always felt inferior to his parents, who are never around to help? And yes, that girl over there is one of the most popular kids in her grade, but do you know how much she is struggling with her own self image? And yes, the Asian boy who still blogs about education and life sometimes seems set for life, but do you know how much guilt he has when he needs to not go to a church event to finish homework, or how much he still struggles with feeling a sense of belonging at school, or how much his heart breaks when the majority of Facebook messages deal with the topic of WebAssign and not about mundane life issues?

Each person has their own struggles in life, and it just isn’t fair to discount all of their personal struggles just because of what they already have in life. Of course, it is important to count your blessings; it’s how we humans can still stay positive in life! But all the same, sometimes all we are looking for us a shoulder to cry on and a warm heart to accept us for who we are.

Question Time!

I’m a bit drained right now, and don’t want to think up a topic for a completely new blog post. However, a couple weeks back, I compiled a list of interesting questions and conversation starters with Sarah Z during some late night chats that we were playing around with, in order to fight small talk. Here is my response on one of them!

“If life is so short, why do we do so many things that we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?”

First of all, major props for this question. It’s worded so nicely and such a nice question to ponder! It reminds me of a zenpencils comic, “What if money was no object?”

While I agree that money is a key part to it, my belief is that at the heart of the matter, people are afraid to take that leap. Not just because of financial reasons, but because of their own egos.

Generally, I’ve found myself to work amazingly hard on stuff that has a definite goal, such as WebAssign, an online homework service. No matter how tough the job would be, I could always squeeze out those little green check marks in the end. As long as there was a concrete thing waiting for me, the task seemed finite, seemed approachable.

But I fare much less well in open ended projects. Although I truly do love my extended essay on astrophysics, I’m constantly struggling with how to work through it and how to properly express myself. Sometimes, to my own chagrin, I find myself wishing that I had more WebAssign to do just to distract myself!

We humans love it when there are set, bound goals in front of us. Jumping through hoops isn’t always a mandate, but sometimes a life choice. We might hate what we have to do to jump through those hoops, but man do those hoops feel good.

So even when we say we love something and wish we could work on it all out lives, do we really mean that? Or is that just a little idealized fantasy we’ve dreamed up for ourselves?

Hopefully the former is true, but to achieve that, we need to break out of our own mind sets that we belong in a cage.

A cage of our own minds.

Maxed Out

My trusty iPhone has served me exceptionally well over the past few years. It’s my goto place for music, easily accessible information, for capturing memories and writing blog posts late into the night.

But recently, a shocking thing happened.

I got the notification that, sorry, you don’t have enough memory to take another picture.

And suddenly, EVERYTHING slowed down.

Sometimes my brain feels like that. Usually it will be chugging along perfectly fine, but once in a while, I start to feel maxed out for some reason. While the logical thing to do at that point would be to take things a bit slower, one at a time, I am not a logical person.

Once my brain maxed out, everything stops.

I remember an anecdote by Richard Feynman about computing powers during the manhattan project. His team was able to produce almost three times he number of calculations as anyone else, almost 8 calculations per month! [obviously these are hard calculations and they had crappy computers]. But when he was asked to perform 2 calculations in a week, he couldn’t. His computers were not pumping out solutions one after another, in series, but were instead working on different parts of the solution at different times, working in parallel to be most efficient.

My brain works in parallel. It’s the reason why I can be extremely effective with anywhere from a little work to a limit of work, and the suddenly seem to snap with the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s why suddenly, wen the simplest tasks become Herculean, and how interacting with other people is suddenly like breathing in a solid whiff of gaseous hydrochloric acid.

So I suppose this is an apology of sorts, not in particular towards others but to myself for my own behavior. I’ll be back to my usual self soon enough!

Bad Days

What really makes a good day different from a bad one?

Noone just breezes through life without troubles; everyone eventually have a couple of days when they are feeling down for one reason or another. But what separates someone who seems to have lots of good days from someone who just always seems down under the weather?

For a very long time, I always believed that having good days was truly influenced by waking up on the right side of the bed. Not literally, of course, although there was a period in the fourth grade where I was so adamant about the “right” side of the bed that I got my parents to push the left side against the wall! But I digress. For a long time, I always believed in external forces that shaped out days. Weather outside is good? Check. Birds tweeting, but not so loud as to wake you up to early? Check. Get some praise in school and some happy conversations in school? Congratulations, you’ve just had a picture perfect day!

But as I matured and began to see the world in different ways, I realized that some of the days were I struggled most in just carrying out life were the most joyous, and that other days, no matter how much good news was revealed through that day, would still feel like complete crap.

The truth is, there is no one external factor that can force you to have a terrible day. I think, more now than ever, that its all in your mind, that if you are able to concentrate on seeing a positive future ahead of you, then you’ll just be able to enjoy life a little bit more.

Note: maybe there is one thing that is crucial to good days….having not enough sleep can really mess you up. On that note, good night!

Radio Silence

Every week, right around 7pm, the messages would start dinging in.

Almost without fail, a million lost souls drowning in homework would reach out for a little bit of advice or comfort. Perhaps just to clarify a point. Or maybe to just chat a little.

But where there was usually a patient little boy eager to help, tonight there was only radio silence, that staticky noise of people screaming into the void.

Where do people go when their helper is missing?

Where do helpers go for help?

This weekend has just been crushing for me, in terms of stress and work. I feel like I need to see a chiropractor! And yet, even being completely drained of energy, I still felt pain and regret when denying help. I just couldn’t face people!

Sometimes I get into a mood of generally crumminess and begin sulking. Luckily, they pass quickly. With an extra hour of sleep by my side and some preemptive homework done, hopefully the next week will be more enjoyable!