Saturday, 5 October 2013

RANT: I careth not

Warning: This blogger is undergoing serious mental issues. The rant that follows is purely a rant and should be ignored by sane people.

We all care about some things. I don't mean 'care' in terms of people, but rather in terms of interest. Like how the nerd across the street wearing the inch-think glasses (probably yours truly) cares so much about Shakespeare or Le Chatelier's Principle. Some people care about dancing, or archery, or swimming, or basketball, or Candy Crush, or drawing, or fashion design, or cooking, or yes, maybe classic literature and science. Thing is, we all care about something and love doing it.

Fortunately — or unfortunately — this often happens to be the thing we are really good at. And when we have talent, we have that desire to be recognized, to be acknowledged that we do matter in that particular discipline. We have big dreams in these aspects. Then we achieve them, and happily ever after.

But sometimes, it doesn't happen that way. Sometimes the thing we care most about lets us down, whether it's because we've worked so hard and no one cares, or because we realize it's not what we thought it might have been. And we feel lost, and wonder why on earth couldn't I have cared about geometry rather than geography?

It's at this point, I think, that some of us give up. And it's very, very dangerous to do so, because when we have something to care about, some goal we want to achieve, there's still a purpose in life. This is the point when we just don't want to care, and that sudden void just ... it's like a black hole, suddenly appearing out of nowhere and wrecking your life.

If you choose not to care, you've gone back to Square 1. Start over. Pray you have better luck next time.

Some people don't give up. They go on hoping that things will turn out right. The lucky ones are granted that, and for those people, this stage of their lives is over. Congrats. The unlucky ones, though, just keep trying and keep trying and refuse to stop caring, for whatever reason — maybe they desperately want a career in this discipline, or they just love it too much to stop, even though it's disappointed them time and time again.

In this situation, the black hole analogy continues. It drains so much out of your lives, and while you don't lose this interest, you're losing so much else. Time. Energy. Friendship. Other interests. Or maybe, just the choice not to care.

I think I'm very lucky in the respect that I've got a couple of these interest/talent intersections. I can choose not to care about one of them and still have other things to pursue. But no one wants to see a window of opportunity closing, even when you know there's nothing behind that window but despair, or at least something you don't really want. And then it just goes on, until this point where you break and finally realize that you shouldn't have cared. You should never have cared so much, so deeply, so devastatingly.

So I say to anyone out there who is at any point of this stage: remember that you have the choice not to care. They talk about freedom of choice this and freedom of choice that, while they tell you to respect your teachers and do well in school and do charity work and participate in extra-curricular activities. The problem we have now is now a lack of choice, but a dizzying abundance of choices. (That's a quote — if anyone would be so helpful as to tell me where, I'd love to attribute this properly.) And sometimes, the choice is to turn down some of those choices. To choose, as I've said, not to care.

I don't mean the things I've listed above are bad. In fact most of them are good, or at least justified. But if some sort of responsibility is driving you up the wall, consider whether you should just drop that. There is no good formula for deciding but this:

TRIAL AND ERROR. TRIAL AND ERROR. TRIAL AND ERROR.

Sorry. That wasn't very helpful.

How I would choose is to evaluate what I get. Not necessarily practical gain, like 'this will look nice on my report card' (but definitely think about that anyways). Just something like, 'Does it even matter if I vanish out of this particular club/society/industry/whatever? If I choose to care about this, will it choose to care about me too?'

That may sound completely insane, but I think it's true. If you feel like your worth is nil in some place, no matter how crazy you are about it, it doesn't matter in the end. So when people tell you to find someplace where your interests and your talents overlap, add one thing more: find someplace that you will matter in.

So to sum up this rather long rant: Step back. Prioritize. Figure out what matters to you, and what you matter in. Then choose what to care about — and more importantly, what not to care about.

This post is dedicated to a friend of mine, who seriously needs 1) to get enough rest and 2) to drop some of that math. And the programming.

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