Well I don't really like entries that are simply written for the sake of updating the world on what is going on in my life, but there are some significatn things going on right now so I want to document them.
College is done. I have finished my undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from WPI with a Minor in Music. Cool stuff, so now what?
Well the original plan was to go to the Peace Corps and that is still in the works. I was nominated for a position in late January and I still don't know if I got in or not. If I do get in, I will be shipping out to Africa for 27 months starting in September, that is exciting and frightening.
The summer has started and I am in a weird state. I have lots of friends getting amazing jobs or preparing to start graduate school and I am just sitting on my ass. Waiting for the Peace Corps to get back to me. Finding summer work has been kind of weird so I have decided to perhaps wwoof for the summer (www.wwoof.org) and I plan to do this in Costa Rica. I have emailed a few farms and haven't gotten much of a response yet, but from what I hear most are pretty welcoming and I should likely leave half way through June for a couple months.
I am still fairly confused as to what to do with myself. I think I have figured out that in my eventual job I want to be outside and I know that I want to be helping better the community/world/society in some way. Still haven't figured out exactly what that is yet, but hopefully I will get there.
I am getting increasingly antsy about what to do with myself. Every day feels like a waste so far, but I don't know what to do. I hope I do not just end up settling for some crap job that I hate just to have it, but we will see where I end up. Engineering still does not look to promising (at least electrical engineering) for my life goals, but who knows?
That's all for now, hopefully I will find myself in Costa Rica or Africa and some kind of epiphany will dawn on me or something.
Oh yeah, PS the new Sigur Ros single is incredible, go check that out.
So it is almost time to depart from the college life to enter what many have dubbed "the real world." In this moment I look back at what I have done and am pretty happy with the way I have treated my college experience. I kept very good grades, played a serious club sport, played drums in a band and was very active in my fraternity. I also look back at who I was when I started this thing called college and who I am today. Many things have changed, a few have stayed the same. All in all, I am still a very driven person, and this is what I am beginning to wonder about.
My whole life I have been extremely concerned with excelling at whatever I do. I always tried to get A's in every class I took, and whenever I was a part of something (fraternity, ultimate, etc.) I had to give it my all or I felt like I was cheating that organization. Now I am part of "the real world" and I feel just about the same way. I feel like I need to do something to make the place around me better. Better in what way? Well, my feelings on this have changed a bit on this issue throughout the years, but basically I feel that there is an immense amount of unnecessary injustice in the world due to the societal system that is in place. Whether this can really be changed internally or there needs to be some kind of revolution has yet to be decided in my eyes, but that is for another discussion.
What I am discussing here is my drive. I can rattle off a trillion reasons for why I am vegan, but at the core, I still do not know why I truly feel it is wrong to kill something for my own selfish reasons. A good friend of mine talked about how it was acceptable to kill babies in Sparta because they were weak and though that seems crazy in today's world, why is it that we feel that way?
I am not a religious person. I do not really believe in an afterlife, in a soul, or in any kind of metaphysical realm that I cannot witness. I am devoutly agnostic and feel that it is entirely possible that there is nothing going on outside of just a bunch of random matter and energy acting in some weird way. However, since I can feel pain (even if that pain is just simply chemicals going funky in my brain) I have something internally that makes me want to minimize harm to other humans, and since I can see the pain in animals, they qualify too. However, I don't know what this internal thing is. A conscience? Proof of a soul? I don't know.
One good example of this confusion is my attitude towards school. Since I have decided to pursue volunteer work, I don't really need good grades right now to graduate. Coupled with the fact that I don't even need the class I am taking to graduate, I don't really understand my attitude towards it. I still feel the need to impress the professor and put a good amount of effort into this class. I always have done that. It wasn't for the job later, and it wasn't to impress anyone else, except maybe myself. I don't really know what drove me to do this.
Basically, now that I have finally got to the point where I think that the original engineering path I took may have been a wrong one, I am not sure why I care. I don't know why I care about the environment, or the animals or even the people suffering from injustices every day. I could go about my life very easily and make good money and the live American dream. I know this is not my fate, and I know that I want a life of substance and meaning. I know I want to make the place around me better, but I am really not sure why.
What drives you? Why do you put your all into everything you do? For the job? The money? For God? For sex, happiness, impressing your friends? Because you have to prove something to yourself to make sure that you are a "good person"? None of these seem to fit me anymore, and it is quite interesting because I am still driven to shake things up and make this place better, and that is not about to change.
So recently I was talking with a good friend who I have not really sat down and talked to for a while. At some point in the conversation she told me, "You are a very closed person a lot of the time. You have some strong convictions, which is good, but they can often times stop you from being truly open-minded." I asked another good friend of mine what she felt about this and she told me that because of the way I argue things that I am passionate about, she completely steers away from those things because I can tend to "make her feel inept" and I don't even really listen to what she is saying. She even called me dogmatic in my methods Surprisingly enough, these things came as an absolute shock to me. I am well aware that I am opinionated, but I had no idea that this is how I really come off to people.
Aside from the fact that my friend number 1 was probably justifying my closed-mindedness with my firm convictions in order to not make me feel bad, it brought up an interesting question for me. What is the proper balance between the two? At what point do you need to just stick with what you believe in and stop taking people (who you may really just feel are wrong) and just close yourself off to them? And furthermore, regardless of how I really feel about this on a conscious level, how do I really act.
My religious views on the ultimate personality determiner, facebook, is "Devout Agnostic". In terms of religion I have come to the conclusion, for a long time now, that I will not find an answer to the origins of this universe and where I will go when I die and I am absolutely comfortable with that. I am not going to side with one belief because it gives me the false satisfaction of knowing what is going on, I can just live my life and not worry about such things. I try to keep this going throughout my life as well. I try not to stick to dogmas for I feel they are dangerous. Even my veganism, the aspect of my moral life that people usually know most about me, is questioned from time to time. I feel that if someone could really convince me otherwise about it I would change, otherwise I am no better than those who won't change in the first place because they are scared of it, or think that tradition dictates what should happen. Basically I always try to play devil's advocate when talking to most people, because I am not really sure how I feel about most things. Apparently, though, I am not as good at projecting this as I internalize it. However, I feel that open-mindedness is the only way people can get to truth and really figure out what is "good". (sorry I am taking a philosophy class right now and some of that is peeking its head out right now)
So what about strength of conviction? If I stay with an open mind all the time, I may just sit around and contemplate everything without any action (I have certainly been guilty of doing this on many occasions). There is a point where I admit to myself that I have figured something out and will thus act accordingly (veganism is a good example once more). However, I have to keep the open mind that got me there in the first place. As Chris Rock said in Dogma, it is better to have ideas than beliefs because you can change ideas. However, I have found a few things in my life that I really feel passionate about, so I end up living my life accordingly.
Once I have found an idea that I fully agree with I try to live as close to it as I can. "Animal cruelty is unnecessary and wrong in this society" so I stop contributing to that as much as I can. Now, I am usually pretty comfortable with sharing these ideas that I think I have figured out with other people. Some may call this preachiness, but I truly am just trying to continue the conversation and hear what others have to say. If they cannot say anything that proves me wrong, I will try to prove them wrong that is the nature of ethics in my point of view. However, I usually try to educate myself in these issues fairly extensively, and I guess in attempting to share ideas with someone who has not done this I usually end up making them feel stupid or inept as friend number 2 put it. This is not, in itself, such a bad thing if the person is strong willed and willing to take what I say with whatever merit they want to give it, but apparently it has shut some people off from talking to me at all. That is a real problem for me because I if I just push everyone away because they may be uncomfortable with my views, or worse if they are simply uncomfortable with the way I have conversations about them, I will be unable to spread ideas and it will prevent me from learning new ideas from other people.
Basically, this was just a long bout of self-evaluation. I am struggling here to figure out how I should really act. If my end goal is to try and educate people and educate myself through their views how can I do that most effectively? Maybe I shouldn't worry what other people think and only engage in conversations with those that can "handle me" or my way of speaking. I am one of the most self-critical people I know, and I certainly do not feel that I am dogmatic. I try to use logic and reason to forge my ethics and I will continue to do that. I guess that from now on I will try to make sure I am not presenting myself in such a dogmatic way, but I have to draw the line somewhere.
I don't know how many of you made it to the end but if you did where do you draw the line between open-mindedness and strength of conviction? Do you even think about these things? Have I made myself out to be more of a pretentious asshole just by writing this defense of my actions? I am open to criticism and thought. That is whole point I guess.
So another year gone. This one contained my biggest nervous breakdown, an amazing trip to Thailand, some pretty significant life decisions and a fair amount of fun drama.
My picks for best movie and album.
Movie - Darjeeling Limited Album - Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
I can't think of that many good albums from this year, they were all kinda so-so.
So here comes 2008, with it I will graduate college, hopefully start my time at the Peace Corps and play my final season of college ultimate. It should be a good one.
Resolution will be to try and be more positive in general. I tend to look at what is fucked up about everything and I should instead focus my energy into positive things and figure out what I can do to make the negative things better.
Also, I am going to keep up my healthy regimen of working out every dasy, eating correctly and sleeping enough that I was trying to do after I had my panic attack last term.
I have applied to the Peace Corps. After long thought about where my life should go next I have decided that 2 years of humanitarian service overseas is pretty much exactly what I need.
Earlier this term I had somewhat of a nervous breakdown and decided that now is not the best time for me to apply to graduate school. The deadlines for that have now passed, so the decision was made. The reason for not applying was a few reasons. Firstly I am not sure exactly what I want to study. I know I DON'T want to continue with electrical engineering, and the most interesting field right now looks like interdisciplinary environmental studies. UC Berkeley and Stanford have pretty good programs in this field. However, I am not 100% sure on this, and though I will probably never be, I think some time off to make this decision is a good idea. I was too wrapped up with school, ultimate, fraternity, copper tree, and a girl driving me insane to properly do these applications. Though I may look back and think that all of those are trivial compared to graduate school, I think that time off is better for me regardless.
So why did I choose Peace Corps? Well in terms of a humanitarian organization it had the easiest application process. It is quite structured and will probably allow me to grow in many ways as a person. I really want to go abroad again even more seriously than when I went to Thailand, so that is a plus. Also, I feel I can really make a difference with it since I will be directly helping people in need instead of lying to myself that my job indirectly does it. I am aware that because of the fact that Peace Corps is a US government organization that the projects do not always help, and some of them are stupid, but I really think that I can find a good project and make the most of it. It will certainly be more fulfilling than an entry level engineering desk job at some company making a new gadget, if even I am only getting the experience of a new country.
I am looking into some more organizations as well. VSO seems interesting (www.vsocan.org) but the website is kind of vague and does not seem to be accepting applications for the youth program yet. I have a list of organizations that the Dean of global studies at WPI sent me that I need to sift through this break to see if I can get some other options there, but yeah that is my next step in life. Any thoughts?
Wait, you're vegan? Why the hell would you do that?
I have gotten this question a lot, and someone just asked me to answer it yesterday so I figure I will just document my story here so I can just send a link to people instead of repeating everything. Here it goes:
I was raised vegetarian. My father came from a Hindu background and when he came to the United States he became an atheist eventually, but kept vegetarianism in his code of ethics. As I was growing up it was always understood that I shouldn't eat meat, never really forced on me or anything, but that was just how it went. For the first 10 years of my life I didn't eat meat, not really knowing why I didn't just kinda going with it.
I turned 10, and my parents divorced. My dad moved away and I lived with my mom. She was not a vegetarian and after constant pressure from my friends and my lack of reasoning for vegetarianism (if you don't know me, I don't like to do things unless I know WHY I am doing them) I cracked and had a piece of chicken at some party at my mom's friend's house. This began, the "dark ages" of my life.
My little brother had gone through the same process, except that he was 7 instead of 10. After about a year of meat eating, he decided to become a vegetarian on his own (smart kid). I went on for 5 years. During the years of overlap, when he was a vegetarian and I was not, I used to give him a ton of crap for it (I was an awesome kid).
Then I met someone who was not raised vegetarian but made the conscious decision to do so at a later point in his life. This was Freshman year of high school. I guess I had met people like this before, but this kid was kinda preachy and I actually listened to him. All of a sudden something snapped in me. I was killing animals for food unnecessarily. I knew for a fact that a vegetarian diet wasn't that hard, I had done it for 10 years already, so I began to try and rationalize why to eat meat. I went and thought that it would be healthier to eat meat, and then upon research found that the average vegetarian lives 7 years longer and has less risk of obesity, heart disease and some cancers. So that didn't work. I may have tried a few other rationalizations, but the only one that worked was "it tastes good." This to me, was terribly selfish and on my birthday (November 8) I ordered some ribs and decided that would be my last meal with meat on it.
So this preachy kid I mentioned (who by the way eats meat now, which is kinda funny) was not just a vegetarian, he was a vegan. But what could possibly be wrong with milk, eggs and byproducts? I didn't know. I did some research on my own, and though it may have been a little skewed by organizations like PETA putting spins on things, I did find out how the mass production dairy farms work here. And it all makes sense if you don't give a FUCK about the cows. Treat them like machines, pump them full of hormones and take their calves away and ship them off to veal farms. This all seemed kinda fucked and I realized that free range stuff wouldn't cut it for me because it was too pricey and I would probably just end up cheating whenever I wasn't somewhere with access to free range stuff, so I just cut it all out. I decided at that point that there was no reason to take part in animal products besides selfish convenience and therefore I HAD to stop.
Since then I have learned about the effects of meat, dairy, etc on the environment. Veganism just makes sense to me. That is all there is to it. Don't harm something that cares if it is harmed, and animals do care, if you can avoid it.
I did not mean for this to be too preachy (though if it makes some of you think, that isn't really a bad thing), but this is just a place I can send people for my story instead of having to write it out a million times like I always do.
So I think it is time for a little update here. Life has been pretty eventful, confusing, stressful, amazing and pretty much a ridiculous emotional and intellectual overload for the past few months. First, let's start with where I want to be.
I have realized (as shown in past entries) that electrical engineering really isn't for me. This has been a long and tough realization to make, but it was made. So now the question is where to go from here.
I am not about to stop my progress on my bachelor's degree when I am about 7 months from completion, so that is going to happen, but what next? Well I see three major paths that I will deem acceptable in my life. These are my thoughts at this point, they may change come May, but here they are in order of most secure plan to least secure:
1. Go to graduate school for interdisciplinary environmental work 2. Go and do volunteer work (humanitarian and/or environmental) abroad somewhere (WWOOF, Peace Corps, other NGO's, something) 3. Be in a band full time
So grad school depends on whether I get in or not, I am looking at some programs on the West Coast (UC Berkeley, UCSB, Stanford and UColorado for right now). They are all pretty small and hard to get into (UC Berkeley, for example, admits 9-15 students a year and has average GRE scores of 650 Verbal and 740 Math). This is going to be tough, but I am not going to "settle" for grad school like I did with undergrad (no offense to WPI, but I only really went here because I had a full tuition scholarship, not because it is where I wanted to be), so I want to avoid applying to safety schools and whatnot and rather wait another year to reapply to the ones I want to go to. This is probably the option I will pursue if I get in, if not then options 2 and 3 come into play.
So WWOOF is something I heard about after meeting a girl in an airport who did it in New Zealand for 3 years after high school and she said all she used was about $5,000 for airfare and other small expenses. Living was paid for by the farms she volunteered at. This would get me some environmental experience that may look good for my application to the same grad schools the next year.
Being in a band, that would be sweet. Probably won't happen and isn't good for my overall goals in anyway. If the opportunity jumped at me, there would be no question that I would drop everything (after my bachelor's) and going and doing that for a while, however. Gotta live the dream if possible right?
So yeah, I am still kinda confused, a little more focussed though. I think I have a vague idea of where I will be in a while, let's see how it all pans out.
In other news: Good: Frisbee team is kicking ass. We won a tournament this weekend, that was the first time WPI has ever won a tournament since I have been here. I was not present for the second day of the tournament because of some family matters but it is still exciting, I can't wait for the spring season.
Copper Tree has a boatload of shows and though they are in familiar places they should still be fun.
Bad: MQP is taking over my life. I spend too much time on it and I certainly don't like it enough to warrant losing this much of my life on it.
I hate school, after realizing I don't want to major in this stuff anymore it is hard to motivate myself.
A good friend of my family died recently. I think this is the closest person to me outside of my grandparents who I have known to die. And I definitely knew him way better than my grandparents, this was kind of weird for me.
Indifferent: Girl situation: Don't know if I have ever been more confused. It's still good overall I think. For more details you can ask me personally about this one, maybe I'll tell you, maybe I won't.
So a year ago, on the last day of classes I got ridiculously drunk and blacked out and thought that bad of myself. I wrote an entry about it here and got responses like "you will learn from this" "it's a good experience" etc.
Last night was the last day of classes and since I am 21 I decided to go on the bar crawl with some of my brothers. If you are unaware of what this means, we got dropped off at a bar pretty far away from the house and walked back stopping at each bar. There are a lot of bars in Worcester, we probably stopped at like 10-15 of them.
The last thing I remember was being at The Gym, a bar on Main st. where I played a show last Friday. Apparently there were about 3 or 4 bars after that that I stopped at and then I ended up back at my house. At which point I began throwing up and became somewhat unresponsive. Some of my brothers took me to a hospital where I woke up at around 4 am. They let me go at 6:00 am and I was a mess, mentally and physically. I am quitting drinking indefinitely right now because I was absolutely ashamed of what happened. So yeah, that is all in terms of that. In other news I am done with my Junior year of college and will hopefully find some kind of job thing for the summer. I will be in Westford, it should be good to relax and think about what I want to do after college. I plan to work out a lot for ultimate, play a lot of music and hopefully do some cooking. Adios kids.
so a couple of entries ago, i wrote something about how i don't think i should do engineering anymore. i said i would follow that up with a further explanation and perhaps ask the readers of this thing what they think i should maybe do. since then i have gone through a couple of emotional events that have made me unable to think clearly about all of this, so i was unable to put my thoughts together. now i seem to be back to some kind of sanity and am ready for the entry i promised before.
so, this entry will probably be long so that i can fully put everything down in writing, i will try to summarize it at the end so that if you don't have the time to read everything you can still grasp what is going. here it goes:
summary: engineering will probably put me on a path to work that will not be really beneficial to anyone. i want to do something meaningful with my life, perhaps i could keep myself as an engineer and try and do some good with that, but i fear that it will end me up at a later point where i will lose my passion and idealism and then end up not having done anything. i could maybe work for the peace corps, or switch to something else for grad school, but these are scary ideas. i would love input from anyone who reads this. thanks guys.