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.

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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.

The Best of Eden

I used to read a lot of books when I was younger, and today I attempt to keep reading because it’s fun and I miss being an avid reader like I was years ago. Currently, I’m reading a book about paleontology called “The Story of Life in 25 Fossils” by Donald R. Prothero. It’s incredibly fascinating and I’m learning SO much with every paragraph that comes my way. Essentially, each chapter is dedicated to going in depth about an iconic or simply very important fossil that have been discovered and why it’s so important to the paleontological study. I’m making slower progress than usual, as I’m only reading it on the train or bus and such. Never really during the rest of my free time.

Normally, I typically enjoy mystery and fantasy/sci-fi genres. As a writer and creative person, those types of genres really spark my creativity and I’m always wow’ed by an author’s originality and their own amount of creativity. Mystery and fantasy/sci-fi are the type of genres that really grab my attention (granted, of course there are other genres I’ll read, but those two are my favorite). A recent book I read was called “A Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay and I would fail at describing this plot without making it sound boring so you’ll have to look up the summary yourselves (sorry!). I’ll just say that there’s this one page toward the end that gives me the chills every time I read it.

And of course, my favorite author of some of my favorite series ever is Darren Shan – author of horror-fantasy books. I am constantly amazed by his originality and there are SO many plot twists in his books that I’m just always pleasantly appalled by his work. There is one series where, I swear, you’re reading the first book thinking the main protagonist is a guy but then BAM, suddenly toward the end of the book it’s revealed the main character is a freaking girl. I did a double take and had to read that section several more times before it finally registered in my head. And when I furiously skimmed through the book again in disbelief, I realized that Darren Shan had made no reference to the protagonist’s gender and did a darn good job having you think it was a male considering the personality of the character. Man… that was amazing. Anywho, I have most of his books on my bookshelves at my house on display like prizes.

But, despite all of that, I’d have to say that my all-time favorite book of all time would be “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. Classic, of course. Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s my favorite haha it’s completely the opposite of the types of books I usually enjoy. It’s quite long (like 600 pages long), pretty bland with lots of narration and not a lot of action, and no major plot twists or anything. It’s a pretty straight forward, bland, long read. And yet, it’s my favorite!

I think it may be the writing style of John Steinbeck (I mean, he can’t be a well respected author for nothing) that appeals to me. Although there’s nothing exciting happening typically, there’s something about the way he writes that really draws me in. So much so that I actually am enraptured by endless pages of character description or a bland scene. I think it may be how real the characters seem and how you really see them as real people with intricate lives and personalities.

Whatever it may be, I love this book a lot. I always read this book every year or so, when my memory of it has faded enough for me to read it and enjoy it again. It’s actually currently sitting on my night stand right now (since like, the summer when I read it during my breaks at work)! Haha. Anywho, thought I’d share that.

Now I’m off to eat apple slices with peanut butter. Have a great night everyone!

The Future Sixth Mass Extinction

So I’m slightly mildly more than a little concerned for our planet Earth. I mean, I always have been in the past but that worry has increased quite a bit last night.

I read an article reporting thousands of dead squids washing up on the shores of the Santa Maria island in Costa Rica. So that’s already devastating and shocking enough. Have you guys seen the pictures? You’d think ‘thousands’ is exaggerating but, man, they were not kidding. You can hardly tell the individual squids apart because they’re all squished together.

It’s more alarming though because a few weeks ago, there was another article stating that hundreds of dead sea lions had also washed up in northern Chile. Now it’s already a huge problem – two different species all dying and washing up somewhere. Obviously, there’s something in the waters.

In many of the articles, both situations seem to share the speculation of rising sea temperatures being the reason for these mass deaths. In addition, some articles regarding the dead squids have reported that it may also be due to low oxygen levels in the sea (there were other man-related reasons given, but I’m focusing on these two natural ones).

For me, this sounds familiar. As a paleontologist enthusiast, I’ve spent some time learning about the land before time (joke). To some people, this may not be news, but here goes anyway.

So we’ve learned about the great dinosaur extinction that pretty much wiped out every life organism except for the hardy mammals and others. But in addition to that, there has been four other mass extinctions prior to that one. Three of them occurred before the Triassic era (when dinosaurs first came), and one of them occurred during the dinosaur age (between the Triassic and Jurassic era). And obviously, the fifth one being the death of all dinosaurs (sadly).

Now, I don’t know much about the two extinctions regarding dinosaurs, but I do know that the three mass extinctions before the Triassic era had to do with the sea and oxygen levels. One of them, the Permian (right before the Triassic era) mass extinction was one of THE largest mass extinctions. It’s even been nicknamed “The Great Dying” because an overwhelming 96% of life died out in that extinction. All of the life we have today comes from the remaining 4% of life that survived.

The reasons for those three mass extinctions had numerous different reasons, such as volcanic activity, melting of ice glaciers, etc. But all of them also involved a drop in oxygen levels or a change in sea temperature. These extinctions didn’t happen suddenly at once like the asteroid demolishing the dinosaur race, they happened slowly over time. But they happened fast enough that animals couldn’t adapt over generations and caused them to die out.

It’s essentially what’s happening now. Climate change today is quickly (in universe time, it’s pretty quick) changing the earth and repeating the same common theme that all the mass extinctions had. I’m not saying we are in the middle of another mass extinction… but it sure as heck seems like we’re about to be in one. Not to mention, paleontologists who have studied the mass extinctions more in depth have stated that the earth will inevitably experience a 6th mass extinction at some point. And based on how the world is changing over the years, I’m not that surprised. Of course, not a super fast extinction, but a slow subtle one.

Okay, it sounds like I’m one of those people running around claiming “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD,” but I’m not getting to that point haha I’m merely sharing my thoughts on this. I don’t have anyone close to me I can talk about seriously regarding this matter so might as well talk to myself about it on the blog! Also, have you seen the photo of the starving polar bear in the Arctic due to the rapidly melting ice? It’s really saddening.

Any who, thought of the day!

Bookstore Adventures

Last night, I slept over at Gamer’s place, but before I went over to his place I stopped by my favorite bookstore. It’s a bookstore that I would go to every day in middle school. I used to go there with my family friend to chat and catch up, I would tutor a friend in math there in 8th grade, or I would simply sit and do my own work as well (they had nice long tables against the window of the store where you could work).

Along with that, they have this mini cafe near the entrance of the bookstore, and every time you walk in, it smells heavenly. At least, to me it does haha it smells warm (if that’s possible to imagine) and just oh so soothing. It’s not the smell of coffee or anything either. I can’t place my finger on it, but it’s like a mix of books and… I’m not sure! Warm books?? Whatever it is, it’s very comforting to me.

I still go there when I can and while I do see new faces, it’s nice to see old employees that have been there since my middle school days back in ’08 or so.

Anyway, so I was there last night and I discovered a section I had never come across before. A paleontology section. Cue the enthusiastic trumpet noises. I was ecstatic as hell and so surprised I never saw it before! I think it’s partly because the section is RIGHT next to the door (and the shelf on the floor too) that employees go through to get to their back storage so it’s a bit odd to crouch down like Gollum in front of that door and have the possibility of someone opening the door and tripping over you.

Because I didn’t want to cause any accidents, I browsed through the two shelves pretty quickly. It was mainly a “life sciences” section so it had all sorts of evolution books and dinosaur ones. I ended up buying this one book called “The Story of Life in 25 Fossils.”  It basically discusses 25 of the most important and iconic fossil discoveries in history and goes in depth about why they’re important to the study of evolution/paleontology. It includes fossils like Archaeopteryx (first dinosaur they discovered with feathers) and trilobites and other paleobotany related fossils.

I’ve actually been eyeing this book at a Barnes and Nobles store, which was cheaper by like maybe $10, but I couldn’t wait so I purchased it. Even though I’m stingy. I cried mentally while at the counter making the buy, but tried to convince myself it was worth $35.

At Gamer’s place I read it for a bit and it’s interesting! Gamer called me a nerd, but ha. Later he was reading a book on binary codes and such, so who’s the nerd now. Kidding, I think it’s great when people nerd out haha it means they have something they’re passionate about and that’s what makes life a little more enjoyable, right?

Gamer is pretty big into coding and programming, and he actually is currently working on programming his own game. Pretty cool, right?

Anyway, I’m going to go continue this book for a while before I have to head off to work.

Have a great day, everyone!