What I'm good at and what I want to do better
I was talking to someone last semester and they told me I was pretty good at asking questions. I hadn’t really thought too much about this, and it kind of made me think: what am I good at? what am I bad at? And what do I want to do better.
Frustration when failing
Ah yes, the classic trope. When I get frustrated or fail at something new, I can get pretty mad pretty fast and just block on it, especially if it’s something that doesn’t feel fun until it clicks. This is kind of bad and immature, but I’m not sure how to make it better.
I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about decisions that I think are important: what classes to take? where to go for college? what to do with my summer? etc…
Although I endorse critically thinking about important decisions, I think this can quickly become unhealthy. I shouldn’t be spending days thinking about whether to take X or Y class. I shouldn’t often be considering adding a class right until the end of when it’s possible.
I need to learn to appreciate the moment and accept that when sampling from good options, it’s fine if I don’t always take the best choice. It’s just hard to accept that (ah yes perfectionism again, the root of all evils).
Impostor syndrome (for certain things)
I care a lot about getting better/good at math. And when you’re at a place like MIT, surrounded by some of the best math kids out there, it can be hard to feel good about yourself. Should I be thinking like this? Probably not, but it’s just true. It’s not productive (rather, my friend says it’s self-destructive), but I’m not sure what to do about it. I respect those people a lot, but also despite my efforts I feel like it’ll be hard to reach. And that’s okay. I just need to recognize what I can be good at and what they’re good at, but math is different because it feels very important to me.
Learning random shit
I think I’ve developed pretty good systems for learning new things and getting into new fields. This is mostly due to jumping into programming and setting myself in somewhat hard situations where the only way I can make things work is to stick it out and think hard for a long time. For example:
- my first programming project was me trying to automate literary analysis. Not easy, not really feasible at the time (2019), but it was fun and I learned a lot
- I took 18.701 (Algebra I) last semester. This was hard. Most of the people there had done way more math than me, but I learned a lot and thrived in the end, although this was more intense because of the class setup.
- I got into cybersecurity by just doing competitions, and sucking at the beginning, but developing a standard of not letting holes in my understanding slide and just spending lots of time. And it worked!
Asking good questions
I really like asking people questions and learning about them. Sometimes I do this too much, and just rapid fire ask questions in a way that can be intimidating. But, I’m getting better at that and overall think I’m pretty good at this. I don’t really enjoy small talk, but I’m very curious about how people’s lives work and how they’re making the decisions they make, and also think I have high reactivity when it comes to conversations (am maybe hyper-active in general).
How does this work for me:
- person says Xn
- I spend some time thinking/linking things together: why are they doing X? how does it relate to the previous Xi? What’s the broader picture (this is pretty natural, I just do it a lot by default)
- then I just ask the questions that come up (maybe people suppress themselves more here)
This leads to a certain directness but I believe if you’re tactful this is pretty cool. However, I don’t volunteer information in return because I believe in a custom of asking if you care, and maybe I should just say things because people sometimes don’t even think of asking even if they are curious.
I’d say I’m pretty good at software development, but I think I’m better at building stuff, in the sense of coming up with an idea that people will want to use, making it, and getting other people to use it. This started in 2018, when I started a shitty wordpress blog about scifi books I liked, and it popped off on r/scifi
What am I good at, what do I lack? Questions I ask, introspection I track. Strengths and weaknesses, I lay them bare, Hoping to improve, to grow and to share.
Learning random things, asking good questions, Building stuff, these are my obsessions. But frustration, indecision, impostor syndrome too, These weaknesses I must work to subdue.
So I’ll strive to be mindful, to seek advice, To reframe my thoughts, to be kind and precise. And with each step forward, I’ll grow and I’ll learn, And in the end, my success I’ll earn.
For life is a journey, with ups and with downs, But with introspection, we can turn things around. So let us embrace our strengths and our flaws, And strive to be better, to reach for the stars.