Why am I doing this?

Hello there! If you are reading this, you probably already know me and I've shared you a link to this post. If you're here from the future, don't read this further and go do something better. Without further ado, here goes my first blog post and I would like to start with the question of why I decided to start writing on the internet.

The TL;DR answer: Just for the heck of it, and a little more.

Words and their influence

I haven't written anything before except for the essays at school. I'm not an avid reader. I am a beginner and I'm just a few books old. My vocabulary isn't satisfactory. Ironically, I have always found words fascinating in several contexts. I'm a sucker for quotes. I consider quotes as one of the most powerful influences of my life. I feel like a child when I see a new word, excited to learn what it means. I have never found picking up a vocabulary book, preparing for GRE, etc to be fulfilling. I've always had a different motive in mind while doing those tasks and it was not for its own sake. On the other hand, I felt I learned words better when I read them in contexts, words being words in their natural habitat. Contexts and sentences are like homes for words - just living their life giving meaning to the sentence. So, I'll do this any day rather than memorizing synonyms. I've heard from everyone I've spoken to, that writing is a good way to explore new words and that excites me the most. So here I am.

To develop a habit

One of my main goals is to develop a habit out of writing (bonus points for people spotting the irony in this sentence). I learned recently that every person is merely a collection of their habits and I would like to adopt this habit into my psyche. I don't have an end goal for this pursuit at this point, but I'm looking forward to enjoy and experience the process that I go through, the challenges that I'm going to face, the reviews and criticisms I'm going to get, the audience I'm going to build. Even if it leads to nothing, I will be happy that I went through the process, the lessons I picked up along the way, and for the attempt. For instance, before this I never realized how easy it is to start a website. I thought it's a difficult thing to do, but it hardly took me 10 minutes.

To challenge myself

You might expect me to say I've been wanting to do this for a long time, I wanted to be a writer, etc. Well, it's partially true. I've wanted to write for a while but I was never serious about it. I'm still not. But I would like to get there and this is a start. I never had a long held desire for writing and it's been recent. I have had a lot of niche obsessions throughout my life and I've never had the patience or the tenacity to stick with them (sort of). There are a few levels to this.

Level 1

In addition to traditional learning, I was good at quizzes, I loved solving riddles, I loved doing math, I participated in sports occasionally, but none of these stuck with me to make a career or a sustainable hobby out of it. All of these were obsessions at some point, but I have jumped quite a lot between things.

Level 2

There are a few things which I have stuck with, for somewhat longer periods of time intermittently, like solving rubik's cubes, reading and watching stuff about science, cooking, etc. I am not good at these but I do these somewhat regularly.

Level 3

This level has some stuff that comes effortlessly to me. One of these things is to go down a rabbit hole on Youtube, where I start with watching some funny videos of people falling out of a trampoline in their backyard and end up 3 hours later watching about a talking Gorilla (It's a real thing. Her name was Koko. Google it).

The second thing I do effortlessly is think. I keep thinking about what to do next, what's about to happen next, what happened yesterday, what's happening now, existence, space, mountains, ants, mosquitoes, TV, food, people, disease, knowledge, etc. My brain keeps throwing an endless barrage of questions to me about everything. Seriously, you should get inside my head - there's a lot of traffic in here and it's never silent. I have always been this way and this has taken me through so many thoughts - positive, negative, neutral, interesting, weird, you name it. I have never bothered to stop and observe my thoughts except on a few occasions. Many of my thoughts are gone and I have no record of them. Who am I kidding? I can't document all of my thoughts but this is the challenge to myself - I would like to document some noteworthy thoughts and findings which might help me and others.

Level 4

Lastly, this is a commitment that I'm making to write something, no matter how little it might be. Accountability plays a huge part and writing in a blog will keep myself accountable to write consistently than trying to write on a journal.

To fight the Imposter Syndrome

Anyone who researches about having an online presence, producing content, making music, videos, etc will stumble upon a common psychological barrier called the Imposter Syndrome.

Here's the TL;DR version (by now I think you know I'm a fan of TL;DRs): When you are about to produce something, you begin doubting your abilities and feel like a fraud. You begin to think like who's going to consume what you create and have a fear that tells you that people might find out that you don't know anything.

This sends you down a path of self doubt and creates pressure to do things perfectly. It's more widespread than we think and turns out many people experience it. Here are some good links I found that might be helpful: Feel like a fraud? and How to beat Imposter Syndrome (Check out this guy's channel. His content is cool). One way to deal with this is to acknowledge that this exists, recognize it and be an observer to your thoughts.

I'm no exception to this and I've had this enormous self-inflicted pressure inside my head to write good stuff when I decided to start writing. But when I learnt about this, all the resources pointed me to a single thing: It's absolutely okay to be a beginner, to screw up initially, to fail and falter and even to not know anything. Producing stuff doesn't have to be done only by experts. It can also be done by normal people like you and me. I don't know if you had these thoughts but I certainly did. Learning about this was comforting, in a way. So, this is an attempt to screw up intentionally so that I can overcome this barrier.

The sheer volume of possibilities

Kudos, if you've read this much. You're a soldier. By the way, do you know what scares me the most, in an existential way? It's the thought that I'll never be able to learn everything that's out there in the world and beyond. No matter how hard I work and how many books I read, how many documentaries, movies and TV I watch, I'm always going to be stuck at 1% because the remaining 99% keeps growing. This single thought disturbs me and scares me more than anything else. It makes me think that what's the point of all this. Given this, imagine working on one field for the rest of our lives. It's terrifying. I read this quote recently that goes,

Specialization is for insects.

Put in it's own context, Robert A. Heinlein wrote this to mean that a human being should be able to do a wide range of things. While he has good intentions in his mind - to urge people to be competent and know lots of different things, it's not practical and it's almost delusional to pursue the idea of knowing everything. We need specific expertise and knowledge to put money in our pockets, food in our stomach and some peace in our minds. We cannot set everything aside and go pursue knowledge just for the sake of learning. The traditional 9-5 world that most of us are stuck in, works in a way that you somehow have to put your knowledge to test to live peacefully and that sucks. Let's face it - I'm 29 and I've led a specialized life studying only certain things, specializing more and more as I moved towards the present. Today, I only know a very little in my narrow area of domain. That is disturbing.

However, if by reading, writing and listening, if I get to enjoy the process of learning more, I'll be grateful. This opens up a whole world of possibilities. Here in this world, I'm not required to stick to anything specific. I can read about anything, watch anything, write about anything - just for it's own sake. Who knows, I might make a life out of this.

Thanks for reading this. Peace out!

Vivek Arvind

Vivek Arvind

Santa Clara, CA