Due to my over-preparedness, I find myself at my gate at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport two hours before my flight. I have no internet and nothing else to do – I guess this is the perfect time to start writing and recap my trip. But before I do that, let me explain why I am beginning anew my attempt to journal, blog, and otherwise record and analyze parts of my life for my own processing as well as (hopefully) others’ enrichment.
Life moves too fast. It’s a cliche – I know – but especially as a college student (even one on summer break), I find myself reaching into so many things – a startup/research project outside of class, an associate role at a VC, somewhat interesting classes, multiple friend groups and student organizations within Harvard and without, and relationships with VCs and entrepreneurs. All of this is partly for enjoyment, partly to develop skills, but mostly to “discover my passions.” That’s the priority I wrote out in big blue marker on a motivational poster for myself this freshman year, and it’s a focus I’m still happy about pursuing. The idea is that I can dabble in a variety of interests, figure out which ones really engage me (i.e. my passions), and then pursue those passions to the fullest. Right now, I’m still dabbling.
In my dabbling I feel like a computer’s task scheduler, compartmentalizing each of my interests into a process and constantly context switching between these processes. The problem is that I only have one CPU and I can’t actually multitask. Unlike a scheduler, I can’t make split-second switches between processes – as a human, I can’t accomplish something without first putting in substantial time investment, plus I can’t just turn interests on or off on a whim. Yet this is exactly the multitasking approach I have to take to explore so many exciting things on such a tight schedule. Imagine the opportunities for distraction at a place like Harvard – late night conversations learning about your roommates (and even understanding the motives of English majors), interviews and talks with tech and finance companies about their business and engineering challenges, meals and coffees with entrepreneurs and VCs to understand the problems they’re solving and their world visions, and brilliant, fast-paced lectures delivered by Professor Edward Glaeser.
The result is that it’s impossible to focus on any one thing to gain enough depth in it.
But I don’t want to stop exploring! I don’t think I’ll ever stop. Exploration keeps things interesting and it’s fun, and in many cases I find that it yields complementary undertakings – rather than time tradeoffs – to my main pursuits. How, then, can I keep track of what I’ve learned even as I explore so many interests simultaneously? As long as I’m exploring, I’d better explore purposefully. I’d better solidify what I learn or risk forgetting it all. More importantly, I’d better think more deeply about my learning rather than merely absorbing information, to begin to make sense of what I am exploring and be able to determine my next area of pursuit with more insight.
That is the very long explanation for why I am writing this blog for myself, first and foremost. To not only record my learning, but also to analyze it in writing and produce theses and direction for my life.
And I want to blog publicly to engage with others who I believe are making this same journey, albeit along different paths. There’s only so much I can explore as one person, but I’ll happily exchange lessons with others so that I can cover an expanse orders of magnitude larger, even vicariously. Hopefully I can contribute to others seeking their own direction by sharing these reflections.