The Ripple Effect

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ripple effect – how one small action you take, or don’t take, subsequently leads to other events in your life. That’s basically what life is about, isn’t it? A series of actions/inactions leading up to a bigger picture. And to me, it’s crazy how one mundane, meaningless, random action you might take can lead to something monumental later on in life.

Take my cousin as an example. She graduated from Cornell and then spent several months looking for a job. One night, she went out to a bar with her friends to de-stress, and, at some point, she made the decision to step outside for a cigarette break. While she was smoking, another man asked her for a lighter or something (the details are a bit hazy), and they ended up talking. Eventually, he asked her what she does and she informed him she was looking for a job. Normally, strangers would just say “oh, best of luck with that” and offer advice before moving on. But, nah. He gave her his email and told her to send him her resume, which she promptly did. Turns out he was working at the United Nations, and now, almost 15 years later, my cousin travels all over the world for her job at the UN.

What if she hadn’t made that small decision to go outside for a smoke break? She wouldn’t have ever met this man, and I can’t even imagine what her life would be like right now. Maybe she wouldn’t have traveled as much and thus would’ve had an easier time finding a good husband for herself. Maybe she’d spend more time at home and keep my aunt company (not that she’s lonely or anything)?

As for myself, I applied to several high schools in 8th grade. My teachers said not to bother applying to Milton Academy – not because they didn’t believe in me, but because my middle school was small and no one had even thought about applying to Milton before. When my mom and I were filling out my applications, I suddenly blurted out “Let’s just do it anyway. Who knows.” To everyone’s surprise, I got in with a big scholarship. And because Milton focused heavily on English and grammar, I further developed a love for writing and editing which subsequently led to me now desiring to be a copyeditor.

If I hadn’t whimsically suggested applying anyway, where would I have gone for high school instead? What sort of long term friends would I have now? What career path would I have wanted to take? Would I be a different person too? Maybe I would have continued pursuing paleontology as a career in some way or fallen in love with a whole other career choice. Maybe my epilepsy would have remained dormant for a few more years and not been triggered by high workload stress during sophomore year of high school.

I’ve spent nearly all my life in school now with years of the same routine and constantly going with the motions. Now that I’m looking for jobs, life seems so open ended for me and it honestly freaks me out a bit knowing that I will unknowingly make or not make an action that’s going to snowball (in a positive way) and shape the rest of my life. And I won’t ever know what that beginning snowball action/inaction will be until years later when I look back. I know there isn’t one best road for me since each possible road will have its own ups and downs. But it still worries me that I may unknowingly choose a road that won’t be optimal for my tastes and preferences.

I also know that I have no control over this sort of thing, but that’s exactly what makes it even scarier. As I’ve mentioned so many times, I’m a planner. I naturally need and want to know what’s going to happen for preparation’s sake, so I admit that not knowing is a bit scary. I suppose that’s something I need to work on mentally and emotionally: accepting the unknown.

And I also suppose that at this point, people can interject with ideas of fate – that the choices you make and roads you travel are or aren’t meant to be. Given that I’m worried as hell right now about this kind of stuff, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the biggest believer in fate.

When I discussed it with my mom, she, being a Tibetan Buddhist, talked about karma/luck (the Tibetan word she used is kind of a mix of karma and luck) and said that there are so many people who will work hard and do every right thing for themselves, and they’ll still end up somewhere they didn’t expect, be it for the better or worse. And then there are people who maybe don’t try AS hard, but are always in the right place at the right time. So you can try your best in life, but in the end karma/luck will have a role to play and there’s not much you can do about it.

It made me feel a LITTLE better. But right now this idea is all I can think about still. I’m not freaking out about it too much, but it’s definitely a concept that’s just been lingering in the back of my head. One day, I’ll look back on this post and think about where I am at the moment. Will I be happy with the choices I’ve made?

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Surviving vs. Thriving

I’m ashamed to look and see how long it has been since I last wrote a post on here. I do have quite a few posts to write about so I will probably spread them out over the week. For my first post…

Recently, my dad’s friend from Chicago (let’s call him Reader) came to visit with his daughter who is two years younger than me. He is a very intellectual guy who has loved to learn since he was a child back in India. He’d pick up any and every book just to expand his knowledge – and boy, did he really expand my mind when he came and stayed for a few days.

One night we were all chilling by the kitchen counter and he gave me a speech about how I should choose to go into my future and nothing has ever struck me as much as what he said that night.

As many people say or have heard from others, you should follow your interests and do what you enjoy. That was the message Reader gave me essentially but worded this way:

You need to find something you’re obsessed with. Something that interests you so much, and something you are so passionate about, that you will wake up in the mornings and chances are that THAT is what you will think about. It should be that way. Anyone can do any job in the future, humans are capable of adapting to their environments.

But if you choose something you obsess over, you will excel no matter where you go. You will be promoted sooner than later, you will get a higher salary raise if that’s what you care about, and people from other fields will come to consult you because you are one of the best in your field. But most importantly, you will have fun.

You can be really talented in one field, but if you don’t obsess over it or have fun with it, then in the end you will be surviving, like everyone else, when really you should be thriving and making a difference in the world – regardless of the field you are passionate about.

“Don’t just survive. That’s what we immigrant parents all over the world have done and are doing right now for you kids. All these immigrant parents have left the comfort of their home countries and are merely surviving right now. Don’t be like us, that’s not why we brought you here. Be better than us, make a difference.”

His speech hit me hard. I’ve always heard people say follow your interests, but it what how Reader put it that made me rethink my entire future. I had plans to go through the English field and become an editor of some sorts, because I enjoy going through the editing process and also that is one of my skills. But.. I don’t obsess over it. I don’t wake up in the mornings wondering what literature I’m going to read next (as much as I’m trying to read more nowadays) nor do I pick up and read any of the books on writing/grammar that I have received as gifts from family.

The one thing I obsess over is paleontology. I love it with all my heart and have since I was a little kid. Paleontology is the subject where I willingly go and WANT to buy books on and read on the train. Every time I go to a bookstore, I always search for a paleontology section. Currently I am reading a book on the Tyrannosaur family that I found at a thrift book store and I am learning so much.

Reader’s speech didn’t just affect me though, it seems like my mom was also enlightened by it. To my surprise, my mom, who had once strongly suggested neurology as a career path, is now encouraging me to follow paleontology. First, I should finish my English degree and get a masters, but afterward – go get that paleontology degree and maybe become a professor.

To be honest, I have yet to look at schools that have good paleontology courses and am still feeling slightly lost despite knowing what I want to do. But I have a good feeling about it.

Quiet

For one of my class assignments recently, I had to choose a song of my choice and write a 3-4 paged paper on the meaning of it. I had to break down the song down to its core meaning and just really explore it. Song-wise, I decided to choose the song “Here” by Alessia Cara. It’s personally one of my favorite songs because it’s catchy and I also relate to the introverted meaning of the song. The singer essentially is talking about how she’s sorry if she comes off in a negative way, but really she’d rather be doing something else. It’s a great song and you all should check it out (Although, I personally prefer the cover done by SoMo and would recommend that version. It’s more mellow and suits the meaning of the lyrics).

Anyway, I presented my song and afterward talked a little bit about how I too am an introvert so I was able to really connect with the artist. My professor remarked how he is also an introvert and that he knew a great book about introversion that I should check out.

It’s called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I checked out the summary of the book just now, and I’m really looking forward to reading it after my paleontology book. It partly seems to be about introverts in general and what they’re really like, and another part of it talks about how we owe many great things in society today to introverts – such as van Gogh and Dale Carnegie (who ironically set off the idea that the ideal successful person would be an extroverted type of person). And in the end, apparently she discusses how to empower an introvert and when it would make sense for one to be a “pretend-extrovert.”

I think this has been a recent change, or maybe I merely grew up, but I have become a text-book introvert (and to get it out there: no, I’m not shy or anti-social, I actually enjoy talking and meeting new people). The epitome of introverts. And with that, I’m often told that I should try to be more “outgoing” so as to make it in the world (like making connections and moving up successfully). My mom has tried advising me on being more active/bold, and even my cousin, who is successful now and works at the U.N., told me that she used to be an introvert but changed herself slowly in her college years.

I’ve always felt that I had to be more outgoing, or that as a text-book introvert, I probably will lag behind my more extroverted friends. And honestly, yeah I have extroverted friends who are making so much more progress in their career life than I am (I feel like, at least) – so that doesn’t help.

But seeing this book and reading the summary, I’m really looking forward to reading it. I think I need something like that in my life. To tell me “Heck yeah! I’m an introvert, and I’m proud of it, and I can definitely make it!” I get that in a fast-paced, somewhat competitive society, you need to be bold and initiative and such. But I think reading this book will help me realize that I don’t need to completely change myself. I just need to, as the author would talk about, know when I should be a bit more extroverted and how to utilize my introverted tendencies in various situations.

I have already embraced my introverted self since the beginning and love being an introvert, but I’d be lying if I said that I felt completely 100% confident that I’ll do well being an introvert throughout my career.

I’ll let you guys know how I find the book when I finish it! Not that I’ve started yet haha.

My Relationship’s Future

I’m sure many of you might have heard this before, but often when you’re in a relationship, there’s two paths for your future: either you break up with your significant other, or you end up married.

I recently started thinking about that, and boy… It sure is a heavy thing to think about. It’s strange… Like, wow – I’m either going to break up with my boyfriend (which I honestly can’t imagine) or I’m going to marry him (which, also, I can’t exactly imagine). It’s not that I don’t want to marry him, but it’s also not as though I’m dead set on marrying him. I mean, come on, I’m only 19 (soon to be 20!).

So yeah, I think I’ve had this passing thought about two or three times now, and my thoughts go no where. I don’t reach a conclusion to my pondering thoughts, and I don’t expect myself to reach a conclusion of some sort. But for the first time in the past week, I actually talked about this with my boyfriend.

It wasn’t a serious discussion per say, but we ended up talking about our feelings on kids and marriage (I don’t know how we ended up on that topic). The beau told me that he doesn’t like babies/kids much nor does he believe in marriage (he went into detail, but I won’t elaborate too much ’cause then the post will get unnecessarily long). Then last night, on the phone, he asked me what I thought about his opinions on marriage and kids because he knows most girls probably would get mad at that since they dream of having a perfect wedding and bearing children in the future.

Honestly, his opinions didn’t bother me at all. Well, I was a little disappointed for God knows why… I guess maybe because I, like so many other girls, enjoy the thought of having the perfect wedding and starting a family. But overall I wasn’t affected by his thoughts. Firstly, they’re his opinions. If he has an opinion, who am I to get mad at him for that? It wouldn’t be fair or right for me to tell him that that’s stupid or that he should like kids/marriages. Secondly, we’re still too young to be thinking of all this stuff. If we do end up getting closer to the stage of discussing marriage, that’s a topic for the future. It’s too early to be planning anything because, as much as I don’t like to think about it, anything could happen. Who knows, maybe (fingers crossed it won’t happen anytime soon at the least) we will break up. So if we do end up staying together for a long time and the moment of marriage discussion comes up, then by that point maybe my boyfriend’s opinions will change. After all, at this age how many people/guys really love kids or marriage?

And he too confirmed that perhaps his opinions will change because after all, in the past few years he has been starting to think “eh, I guess babies are kinda cute sometimes.” Haha.

So yeah, I kind of wanted to write a post on that. Not only because it was an interesting moment to be discussing marriage/kids, but because I realized that I wasn’t the only one in the relationship who actually thought about this. And so…. I’m still 19-almost-20 and he just turned 23, and yet we’re already thinking about this grown up stuff.

Interesting, huh? Have any of you had these kinds of moment when you were my age (or if you are my age-ish now)?

Future Plans

I went to visit two colleges today. As a senior, I never really realized how quickly this painful college process is going to go by. I mean, in less than two and a half months, I’ll be done with the application. A year from now, I’ll be (hopefully) enjoying my college life and I’ll have new friends and everything.

It’s kind of scary thinking of the future. I’m so used to going to school for pretty much my whole life. I wonder what I’m going to do after I graduate? What’s going to happen to me after that? How am I going to make a living? How different is work going to be from school? Gosh, all these things are stuff worth wondering (in my opinion). I’m interested in biopsychology, but I hope I’ll get somewhere in life with that. Not going to lie, I think that’s gonna be a somewhat tough road for me. But I’m sure I’ll pull through if I set my heart on it, right?

I’ve been putting more effort in my school work, as you guys probably know. I’ve been staying up all night trying to perfect my assignments. Thinking like that, I’m pretty confident I have a good path ahead of me. I’m just sitting around now. Waiting for my roommate to come back so we can go to the library to do work. Although, I have a feeling it’s not going to be very productive.

I should probably get a head start on work so I won’t have to worry about it and unnecessarily stay up late again.