Life is All About Side Projects

Life. You see it, right?

Life. You see it, right?

Random Observation/Comment #213:  The more time I spend in New York, surrounded by the wonderful, fast-paced life style, the more I also begin to miss being in Europe. There were so many quirks there that made me happy, but I should realize that I was on vacation; and a vacation lifestyle is definitely not the productive one.  I grew in a liberal arts fashion with new passions towards living life, but I lost a piece of my technical approach (which was getting borderline nerdy anyway).  It’s odd continually separating these two worlds, but I’m not really sure why I’m trying to make such distinctions.  I changed my fashion and my organization in the past few weeks, and a new project is on the brink of initiation.  I will run the alpha once I have time to myself where I’m not distracted by amazing shows like Dexter, Californiacation, and House, and also not studying for upcoming interviews.

I’ve found that the method of leading a good life can be broken down to a few major rules.  None of these are intended to be religious in any way, but of course, they could probably be interpreted that way.

  • Keep a separate hobby from your career. Granted, your career can be a hobby (like programming, if you’re Nerdy McNerderson), but you should realize that other hobbies need to exist to keep things interesting.  Life is about what you do with your free time.  As we grow older and our scope of responsibility widens, we lose those precious moments to ourselves, so make sure you find your personalized and perfected relaxation routine (glass of red wine chatting with friends) or happy pass-time routines (ping pong or reading a good sci-fi novel).  Personally, it would be writing, photography, and testing random startup ideas, which I feel balances the technical aspect with a healthy dosage of those liberal arts things.
  • Make lots of short-term goals and finish them to stay productive. There’s a high level of satisfaction for me when I check off to-dos because they make me feel more efficient.  It might be the engineer thing, but I can’t stay still.  If you could, try to make these goals related to those hobbies.  This is basically the idea of staying organized, but you get much more done when these goals mold with your free-time and stray away from obligations.
  • Stay social and connected to a community. Whether it’s keeping up (cough, stalking) with your friend’s facebook updates, calling up friends to get slightly involved (just the tip) with their issues, or texting clever messages to random people, it’s nice to be involved in something.  You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when someone calls you up to invite you to go out to an event?  It’s a sense of being on someone’s mind and it just makes everyone more cheerful.  Everyone likes to get invited, so if you’re doing something; spread the joy.
  • Make observations about the world and try to see that bigger picture. There’s a level of ignorance that can be tolerated, but there’s just so much out there to learn.  Stuff you own is just stuff.  That materialistic world may make you feel better, but it can all be taken away.  Some people use faith as there guiding path, but I prefer to use knowledge.  I’m not saying, “Let’s crack open the internet and start absorbing it into our own memory.”  That’s just ridiculous.  I’m suggesting to make connections and to be savvy in specific subjects.  There’s no way you could be an expert of everything, but you just need to have your own thing.  For example, if I wanted to talk about theology, I’d chat with Justin.  If I wanted to talk about graffiti and tattoos, I’d talk to James.  If I wanted to talk about video games and the Rangers, Jake would give his feedback.  Hint: try not to be the expert of sitting around watching prime time TV shows on hulu.
  • Add a bit of randomness to your life. Routines are incredibly comfortable, but really nasty when taken to an anal extreme.  The most organized person in the world counting tooth-brush strokes and walking the same optimized path (like in that Will Ferrell movie) sounds highly efficient and should probably make me pitch a partial, but the truth is: I wouldn’t be able to hold that up.  Probably me, more than most people, love to have control over their own life, but I’ve found that sometimes you just need to let go and add some spontaneity.  If you don’t, you’re just a zombie consumer going through a set routine – granted, it might be the best routine ever, but you lose your edge when you get used to everything around you.
  • Stay healthy. All of the above doesn’t make a difference if you’re unable to do the things you love.  Make decisions that keep yourself and everyone around you content.  Life is already so short and we’re already so fragile.  Take breaks when you’re overwhelmed and make sure work or fun doesn’t get in the way of your future’s well-being.  Hint: Don’t drink too much, even though it’s super social and fun.

I made this list on the train ride to an interview, but I try my best to maintain these simple principles.  Most of it may be common sense, but there are a lot of these things I wish I knew before starting university.  For example, if I knew the importance of teamwork, I would have begun study sessions and problem set collaboration much earlier.  It’s all about using your resources and making sure you include that “liberal arts” world into your everyday life.

Does this mean I support a liberal arts degree now?  A Liberal Arts major is basically: “I don’t know what I want to do with my life when starting college so let me take any type of class I want to see what I’m interested in.”  You’re supposed to change degrees within the University when you figure out what you want to do.  Unfortunately, students abuse this system by taking the classes with the least amount of work, and thus, the most amount of partying.  Even if you say, “No, that’s definitely not me,” you’d be surprised at how much your peers affect your decisions.  Besides, college is also about learning how to learn and practicing your social skills so you can communicate better in the real world, so a bit of partying is necessary.

I haven’t been to the next stage in my life yet, but I’m pretty sure many things change when that popularity narrows down to a few close friends and your significant other.  Maybe facbeook will revolutionize things, but by TV shows (which is pretty much real life), the couples play-date thing is right around the corner.  Make the most out of your freedom!  Carpe Diem!

~See Lemons Always Busy

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