The illusion: “plenty of time”

For most of my time in school, I learned things teachers told me to.

In school, all learning was focused on an outcome. Do well on a test to get placed into AP classes. Do well in AP classes for college credit. Perfect SAT scores equate to placement in top colleges. Once you’re in college, great GPAs lead to top-tier jobs.

The pursuit of knowledge to attain an outcome felt directionless.

When people asked me, what are you doing?

Until college, I’d answer, “I don’t know.”

Then they’d go on to say, “Ahh. You have plenty of time, don’t worry.”

This response would frustrate me. I’d always think to myself, I don’t have “plenty of time.” In fact, the decisions I’m making now will have life long consequences.

I was looking for the thing that piqued my curiosity. I knew that once I found it, I’d be relentless in the pursuit of excellence in that domain.

The difficult part of chasing my curiosity has rarely been blockers in my ability to grok new information or learn new skills.

I’ve found it much more difficult to shed of past versions of myself.

At the end of middle school, I had the option of choosing what high school I wanted to go to. I decided to forgo the school all my peers were going to and chose the top school in my district instead.

Ziggning when everyone zags has been a common theme in my life.

Similarly, in college when I left the pre-medicine track to pursue business school it felt uncomfortable. I felt like I lost my place.

Losing my place meant, hardships in personal relationships and a lack of transferability in credentials.

At the time I switched from pre-medicine to business, I was a certified EMT, had volunteered for 200+ hours in hospitals, and was doing research. In the business school, no one knew what that meant or truly cared for it. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter.

Losing your place is never easy. I’ve learned this lesson many times over. Saying no to good offers. Taking jobs, Moving in and out of Seattle/NYC. Moving to SF. Moving out of my parent’s home. Moving in/out of college. Dropping out of college.

Losing your place means dropping your accrued comfort and social capital. Having done it a few times I’m more confident than ever in my ability to stand up again after a move.

Do things outside of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid of losing your place, “plenty of time” is a lie. If you need someone to give you a push, message me.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal—this is probably it. Make it count. Time is extremely limited and goes by fast. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled—few people get remembered hundreds of years after they die anyway. Don’t do stuff that doesn’t make you happy (this happens most often when other people want you to do something). Don’t spend time trying to maintain relationships with people you don’t like, and cut negative people out of your life. Negativity is really bad. Don’t let yourself make excuses for not doing the things you want to do.”

Sam Altman

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