Monday, May 21, 2012

This Past School Year and Summer

Well it is officially 10:09 pm of Thursday May 17, 2012. My sophomore year of college is officially over. According to me, it ended exactly as I walked out of the condo which I have been living in for the past sophomore year on the weekdays. The time I walked out and got onto the car, I made a note of it. It was 7:31 pm. This time has a special meaning for me. It marks the end of not just my sophomore year, but a year filled with emotions of major annoyance, regret, and feelings of being different than others my age. As of last year, the end of freshman year, I ended the school year with the decision that I would room with two other male nursing acquaintances. I knew these guys by name and from the few times we interacted during freshman year- my brother interacted more with them freshman year than I did as they were in the same class. I perceived them to be nice people, nothing to worry about. When I told my mom about my decision to share an apartment with two other nursing students, she specifically asked me if these guys were good students or party guys. I told my mom, “look, they are nursing students. I don’t think you can get into nursing school if you had bad grades.” That’s all I thought about it. I didn’t imagine there would be any problems, any hidden feelings of resentment and annoyance that would fester from an under-looked decision.

I reached my threshold with the level of noise my two roommates and company were making several times throughout the year. I wrote an email to the landlady who is actually one of my roommates’ cousins. This following email took me more than an hour and a half to carefully express how I felt. I wanted the landlady to completely understand my position. Here’s the email I sent on Thursday January 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm:

“Dear Julie,

There is a situation at the apartment that has been bothering my brother and I for several months now. I feel like our lifestyle with Ron and Josiah are not very compatible and it's not working. They bring their friends to the apartment almost every night and they stay up late making too much noise. I understand that they like to have their friends around, and I'm not against them doing that. They seem to really enjoy spending time together with their friends but it has gotten to the point that I constantly feel they are being too loud too late at night even though my brother and I have classes early next morning, and they may have classes early next morning as well. I talked to Ron and Josiah individually last semester about not being able to fall asleep because of the noise level and we reached a verbal agreement that they would have their friends leave the apartment by 12 am. For the next few weeks things improved but as of late last semester and this week of this new semester, it has been getting out of hand again. They are talking and laughing past 12 in the morning and I feel like I need to move out.

I feel like if I talk to them again about keeping it down, they will tone it down for a couple weeks only to gradually start returning back to their original habits. In a way I would like them to have as much social time as they would like. I don't think it is fair that they should have to hang out less than they want just because my brother and I are living there as well. But at the same time, my sleeping habits have been disturbed and i feel like i don't have any privacy in the apartment besides my own room. At night, when i am in the apartment and leave my room, I constantly feel I can't even have a quiet apartment to study. For the last semester I have been constantly going to the library to study until late at night and don't return until I feel like they have gone to bed. I don't study in my room because the walls are not very sound proof and when they have friends over, the tv is constantly on and their voices are too loud. With the extra load and difficulty of this semester's classes, I feel like I really need to move out or my grades will also take a hit.            

In hindsight, if I had a chance to redo this decision I probably would not have roomed with them. Don't get me wrong, I don't think they are bad people who are trying to sabotage my grades by making the apartment noisy. Not at all. I think they both have a warm and compassionate heart that will make them great nurses and it's something I like and respect about them, but the constant stress of always worrying about trying to get the peace and quiet I need has reached its threshold. I would really like to move out and find my own place.

I understand that you do not like having the leases broken and would try to do as much as you can to persuade us to stay at the apartment. I understand that we have a business type relationship and that money is important to you. Money is important to me as well, which is why I am working hard in this expensive school to get the best grades I can. We both can reach an agreement on that, which is why for my well-being and my grades, I need to move out. I do feel bad that our relationship may have to end like this. I hope you can understand my position. When can we get together to discuss the appropriate actions that need to be taken?

To achieving all your dreams and goals,

After our talk with the landlady, we came to the agreement that their friends would leave by 12 and no later. Deep down, there were other things that were bothering me, but I knew the landlady would not be able to help because one, what I needed would be unreasonable for my roommates and two, were my own issues that I suffer from. I was tired of constantly having people in my sanctuary, period. I despised every time I got out of class, my roommates and their friends were in the condo making noise. Now some people may say, “why don’t you just go join the party? Com’ on, don’t be so antisocial.” This is one thing I’ve come to learn about myself this year. I am an introvert. Prior to this year, I did not know the difference between introversion and shyness. Discovering the qualities and tendencies of introverted individuals explained a gold mine of social peculiarities I thought were strange and unique to myself. For someone unfamiliar of the introversion, extroversion dichotomy, he may ask, “what does your personality have to do with going over there and talking to your ‘friends’?” Well, the fact is that for me and many other introverted individuals out there, we tend to be listeners more than talkers. We listen to thoughts and ideas brought up and then we contribute through our insight. In group conversations where the tempo is dictated by those who can talk fastest, listeners and those who aren’t talking their mouths off tend to be quickly ignored. Second, the conversations extroverted individuals converse in lack depth. Extroverted individuals value variety where introverted individuals value depth. Introverts tend to love deep topics that explore someone’s intimate thoughts and feelings. Introverts love to dissect and understand what is going on in the other person’s head, aka their thoughts and feelings, their life stories, dreams, failures, pains, and topics that require thinking and reflection of oneself. Extroverted individuals tend to be under-stimulated by these types of topics just as an introvert is more likely to show a lack of interest in topics without much depth.

Because of these two reasons, I never involved myself in their group socialization. Of course there are other reasons as well. Although I have become more confident in my abilities in social situations, I find myself feeling anxiety when imagining myself approach a group of people I’m not too familiar with or when I attempt to fit in by discussing a topic lacking depth and filled with snide comments and vulgar humor. My shy tendencies when it comes to group interactions did play some part in my refusal to join their socialization. I have noticed that when it comes to one on one interactions, my confidence in myself to handle and steer the conversation boosts. This is a result of naturally enjoying one on one conversations as these conversations allow for more thinking, depth, and quietness, which is perfect for the more introverted individual. As a result of increased experience socializing one on one, and positive feedback, I am confident that if I created the opportunity to talk to people one on one, I would be able to steer the conversation in a manner that is comfortable and interesting for me. Obviously this has to do with their level of introversion as well though. Some extroverts are not only loud, but they are arrogant. They use their outspoken abilities to tease other people and raise their own statuses. Most likely, they are just teasing out of humor, but I feel that their cocky humor can really anger people who don’t know them that well.

Throughout the entire sophomore year, I did not once hang out with my roommates and their friends (who are male nursing students as well). I never went out of my room to join the superficial conversation. Over time and many weeks of saying the basic “hi or what’s up” to each other, my relationship with them felt awkward. When I was in my room with the door closed, thoughts would often race through my mind. Self-degrading thoughts and laughs behind my back. Thoughts of, “this guy is so antisocial and shy!” plagued my mind and to be honest bothered me to the point where for the majority of the year, I found myself planning my schedule of going back to the condo to eat between classes, study breaks, and working out all so I could avoid them and see them the least. As one can see, it became a vicious cycle. The more I avoided them purposefully, the more in my mind, I felt awkward and this developed a strain on our relationship.

My decision of choosing to fit my day around their schedule to get quiet time made me tense and self-conscious every time I knew that my roommates and company would be back soon. There have been countless times, where I would be doing work on a Tuesday night preparing for clinical early next morning, thinking just how much longer I would have before my roommates would stomp in and break the silence. This very thought deep down fueled the small fire of dislike I began to gradually hold against them. The thought that I would not even be able to have uninterrupted time to myself without having to worry about when these guys are going to come in and ruin my quiet time scared me. Many times I could hear them talking, laughing, and stomping their way up the stairs as soon as they entered the lobby. The position of my room did not help either as my room was directly above the lobby. Their loud voices and uninhibited laughter reminiscent of an on-the-spot joke that echoes off the walls of the room tightened my back and neck muscles. There were times when I had to consciously relax my back and neck muscles after realizing how tense they were. The truth is, I felt intimidated by the two guys my roommates brought over. Their personalities were both loud and extroverted. The way they dressed, indicated to me that they were more focused on looking good than studying and doing their best in nursing. All these indicators of their underlying goals and desires only furthered how different I felt from them.

Now that sophomore year is over, I realize that I desire my own sanctuary of peace and quiet. My roommates and company were not bad people. It’s not their fault that their personality seems different from mine. It was because they interrupted my quiet time that I felt annoyed and dislike towards them. It was because I constantly felt as if I was different than many individuals of extroverted America that I felt that there was something wrong with me. I felt shy, nervous, out of place, and different every time I had to be in their vicinity.

Summer is now here. I was supposed to post this days ago. It is now Monday the 21st . The past few days were fun when I played ball and dominated against my fellow basketball acquaintances and friends. Other moments have been filled with watching Miami heat games against the Pacers which have been entertaining to watch although as a fan, I have felt frustrated at Lebron and Wade more than feeling happy to watch them play.

David doesn’t have enough money for us to pursue rock climbing. The question comes to mind of how those who didn’t have someone to mentor them learned to rock climb. The rock climbing classes are expensive, and we don’t know how much we will be able to learn just by taking an 8 hour private class. It seems like finding people to learn rock climbing/ mountaineering from is quite essential to one’s learning. This also relates to the idea I read in Brian Kim’s 3rd issue of Natural Burning Desire Subscription that it is necessary to talk to other people to create that burning desire to develop from a level C life to a level B life. It sure feels frustrating when I don’t know how I will pursue this hobby. Perhaps I shouldn’t even pursue this hobby right now since I will have to go back to college in about three months and since I also have to take community college class over the summer as well. Again, it sucks to be able to finally have the time to do what I want, but not have the resources- a car of my own that I can drive without permission- or money to do it. The great ones always say that these are just excuses. Perhaps they are excuses. Perhaps I should befriend someone I see rock climbing and ask them if they are willing to teach me rock climbing at a cheaper fee than these classes I see online that charge about $100 for a public afternoon class that will allow me to climb so little for what I pay. Perhaps this money is needed to be spent.

Will this summer be another break that was spent only wishing I was doing something exciting? It will be up to me to see a change through.

I want to conclude with a motivational and inspirational quote from Brian Kim:

“If comfort is the ultimate goal, you're screwed. It's funny because so many people have that as the goal, thinking that will be what's best for them. But it's really not. Challenge is the best for us in life. We don't want things to be too easy or too challenging but somewhere in the middle where it engages us, brings out the best in us, gets us to think of new ideas, to create, to progress, to learn. That's where the zest of life is.

 Not being in comfort 24/7. So many things in life are paradoxical. This is definitely one of those cases.”

-          Brian Kim’s MIT of May 21, 2012     

Sunday, May 13, 2012

With Less Than a Week of School To Go: A Brief Account of My Thoughts

There is officially five days left before my last two finals on Thursday, May 17, 2012. It will mark the end point of my sophomore year in college. I don’t know how I feel about being pretty much done with this school year as I am writing this. I’m not sure I have the time to type up a full length article right now as it’s 1:17 AM Sunday morning of May 13, 2012. But I feel like I have lots to say about it but I don’t really want to get into my intimate thoughts right now. I’m feeling tired. And a little hungry as a side note. How I really feel about things that happened this year. This year has been filled with feelings of moderate level of regret, annoyance, a lack of motivation to study at times, quite a bit of insecurity and a moderate dose of unfairness and jealousy from seeing other people goof off and noticing cute girls that I don’t have the energy, time, or ability to go up and talk to confidently as they ignore me as if I’m invisible (perhaps I’m not as esoteric as I think I am, but I wouldn’t know). In terms of positives, I feel I’ve progressed in terms of knowledge, hands-on skills, and confidence when it comes to nursing, although I still have much to learn and improve on. I’ve managed to get another year of working out consistently on three days a week down although my motivation for working out has slowly been waning at times throughout the year. I’ve learned more about how my future nursing career can help me accomplish my goal of living an adventurous life with a decent amount of free time to myself to learn and get involved in hobbies and activities that I desire to pursue. I’ve found out about Per Diem Nursing, thanks to Brandon, my sophomore 2 clinical instructor. This past school year, I’ve learned about the types of relationships I want to pursue in my life. I’ve come to understand more about my introverted personality and it’s helped me accept myself more and feel relieved that my social needs and personality was not something that was down-right strange. I am wondering how I will juggle my introverted personality with meeting women and talking to people in the future. To what degree should I allow myself to lay back and not talk to someone due to my preference of observing people and staying to myself to recharge my social batteries? David Wygant’s approach fits an extravert’s personality best but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from him and incorporate David’s skills and knowledge for my benefit. I think that is something I will have to sit down, think about, and write about to come to a solid conclusion and decision. It’s getting late and I need to go eat now. Don’t want to lose more muscle. This post is not as analytical and in-depth as the others. I know. I’ll write in more detail once I finish my two finals this Thursday. Until then.     

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How To Maximize Learning

I read an article a few days ago on how to retain 90% of what you “learn”. I put quotation marks around the word learn because I find it counterintuitive to be able to learn something, yet not be able to retain it. Can you really learn something if you do not retain it? What does actual learning constitute? Real learning is the act of taking knowledge and applying it for the improvement of yourself. After all, if you “learn” something but can’t or don’t know how to apply it, does it count as learning? I don’t think so. Then it would be interesting for many to know that the way we learn in schools is actually one of the slowest ways to learn information. To understand this, we have to know what the learning pyramid is. The learning pyramid was made by the NTL Institute in the 1980’s in Bethel, Maine. It showed how much people retain after using several different learning styles. Let’s take a look:

Schools teach using the methods that yield the lowest percentage of retainment. Lectures and reading books are the main ways students are forced to learn. But perhaps there is no other way of teaching myriads of students but through lectures or readings. The most effective way we learn is from teaching others or applying what we just read, seen, or heard immediately. For me, the reason I did a bit of research to find more effective ways of learning is because I wanted to maximize my time I spent studying. I do not want to waste my days away doing something that yields so little actual learning in return. From the example from the way we traditionally learn has students leaking about 90% of information when they read or sit in class listening to lectures. When I am studying for classes, I look over the professor’s powerpoints and notes. I am merely reading the teacher’s notes. It makes sense that I am actually learning very little in my classes if I compare to how much time I spend looking over these notes. From reading the article mentioned, I’ve learned that making mistakes forces our brains to take note of the mistake.

The best way to make mistakes is through teaching someone or implementing what you just read. If we think about it, it all makes sense. When we teach someone it forces us to make connections and to make mistakes. When we realize the mistakes we made through teaching, our brains are forced to make a note of it.

The conundrum that exists however is, can you be teaching someone if you don’t actually know what you are talking about? At first glance it may seem like an oxymoron. But let’s look at it this way. Perhaps it is the act of teaching someone that forces us to make connections, explore topics that confuse us, make mistakes and to correct them, and at the same time, when we are teaching someone, we are using our own auditory and visual aspects to help retain the information. In other words, when we pretend to teach a subject, we retain more than if we just read a book on the subject. Perhaps when I am preparing for my finals, I want to pretend to teach an imaginary-student out loud of the notes that I am going over, instead of just reading over the notes over and over again.

UPDATE: just added this in as of Sunday, 11:44 pm; May 6, 2012 after talking with David while walking Lucky

How exactly should we take advantage of this knowledge? If we read an interesting article and want to be able to retain as much as we can from it, we should teach the contents of the article to ourselves. Again, I don’t believe we have to have a person sitting there listening to what we are “teaching” them for us to retain the information. Again, it is the act of teaching that allows us to retain the information. For me, when I read the article linked above, I wanted to put this idea of teaching others to the test. I took out a piece of binder paper and made an outline of the article paragraph by paragraph. I read the paragraphs most related to each other, went to the paper, and based off what I had read, I proceeded to write down what I had remembered (I would not look at the article when I proceeded to write down what I just read as that would just be paraphrasing and would decrease the chances of making mistakes- mistakes is what helps us retain information). I would summarize what I just read, put in my own thoughts, ideas, and questions, went back to the article to see if I had made any mistakes in terms of information, got any confusion clarified, and repeated these steps for the next few paragraphs for the rest of the article. Lastly, I went over my outline piece by piece and section by section, ran through the logic in my mind without looking at the paper, mulled over the notes and clarified any lasting confusion.

I am confident to say that I have retained a high percentage of information from the article that I pretended to teach to myself as I was able to explain the contents of the “How to Retain 90% of everything you learn” article to my brother as we were walking Lucky. I was also able to retain and teach my brother what I had retained from “The Three Types of Burning Desires and The Three Times in Our Lives When Burning Desire Fades” post I had written yesterday.

When I look back on writing these posts, I ask myself, am I “teaching” myself when I write articles for my blog? When I write, I let my mind flow, ask myself questions, make connections, and make clarifications in terms of what I feel and think about things. I would conclude that although I am learning about myself, I am NOT retaining as much about my own post compared to if I did the outlining process described above for these posts I write myself. Why is that? What’s the difference between letting my thoughts flow, writing them down in a coherent manner vs. outlining my own articles and “teaching” them to myself?

Obviously, because I wrote the article myself, outlining it again and teaching it to myself would only reinforce what I realized about myself, but I believe, when I write down my thoughts, I am merely recording my thoughts. My thoughts come in spurts and it comes it a logical pattern. Thoughts come, questions come up, more ideas come up and I document them. That is how I write these articles. This piece of word document that I am using to type this up is merely a receiver that allows me to record down my thoughts and ideas permanently vs if I didn’t write them down, I would forget the majority of my thoughts as I go deeper and deeper into contemplation. So when I write these articles, I am merely getting down my spontaneous, present, in the moment, and fleeting thoughts and ideas. It’s one thing to remember parts of your trail of thoughts and deeper insights, and another thing to be able to analyze the pattern of my in-the-moment thoughts after I record them down. It is then, when I go back and analyze (teach to myself) my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and questions of my posts that I can retain more of the information.      

My Notes From Issue 1 of BK's NBDS

This article has only been possible thanks to the writer, Brian Kim, for his Natural Burning Desire Subscriptions. These are my own notes from studying this subscription.

The three types of Desires that make up a Burning desire:

Natural burning desire- an innate desire to do a particular activity regardless of external pressures. It is something that you likely have been doing your entire life and will continue to do regardless of what your future goals become. An example from my life of a natural burning desire would be the desire to reflect on life and understand myself. Before I began writing articles and posting them on my blog, I was already thinking about my life, how I wanted to live life and jotting down thoughts here and there.

External burning desire- a desire manifested from pressure from our peers, society, and our life growing up.  For me, throughout high school and even now in college, I noticed and was attracted to girls but I didn’t feel the need to be dating. But there certainly is external pressure and shame that I feel when I notice other guys talking to girls and I know I’m not. The external burning desire in this case would be the pressure to match up to the status of other guys by talking to girls. If I went outside and did not see teenage guys and girls conversing, I would be perfectly fine and feel no need to talk to girls.

Converted external burning desire- I am not 100% sure what Brian Kim means with this desire but I think he means, it’s an external pressure that motivates us to get over the hump and do the things we don’t want to but we know are necessary to getting us to where we want to go. Perhaps an example of converted external burning desire in my life is nursing school. Nursing school isn’t fun. There’s a lot of studying, early morning classes, and stress. But I’m doing it because I know there’s a good chance that nursing school can allow me to live the lifestyle I want to live. There is also an external pressure to go through nursing school because since I have already started, and I know there would be negative external pressure from family, friends, and acquaintances if I actually decided to say, “fuck nursing school” and drop out. The thought of what I would do, potentially miss out as a way to allow me to live life how I want, and negative feedback from people I know influences me greatly to go through nursing school.

Notice how we need all three burning desires to succeed in the long run. Without a natural burning desire, but with an external burning desire, we can go far, but it won’t last as long as if we had the natural and external burning desire. Without an external burning desire, and only a natural burning desire, I would enjoy doing something like a hobby but I will only go as far as my interest in the hobby goes. An external burning desire gives our natural desire a vision, purpose, and a mission to accomplish. Now if we had natural and external burning desire but lacked the converted external burning desire, we would go very far but when we hit a difficult obstacle, we may not have enough desire to keep punching until we break through. Incorporating all three of these desires will allow us to reach our greatest potential.

The need for all three desires is analogous to starting and maintaining a fire. The start and maintain a fire, we need dry tinder and wood which is comparable to having a natural burning desire as it sets the foundation. Lighting the fire and maintaining it is analogous to having an external burning desire which gives us the majority of the desire and fuel to succeed in the long run. Keeping the fire dry when it starts to rain is comparable to having converted external burning desire as it will allow us to overcome things we don’t want to do but know we have to.

The three times in life when burning desire fades:

Let’s use the American grading system as a way to describe the quality of life.

A level F/D life is a life we never could have imagined. It is a life where we realize our life has gotten to the point where we are not living our life in tune with our desires and values. It’s a life that when we realize that we are living, we will not stand for it anymore. There is so much pain in our lives at that point that things MUST change.

A level C life is one that can be described as being in no man’s land. Our life doesn’t royally suck but it isn’t great either. The quality of our lives is smack dab in the middle. Things aren’t as bad a level F life but we aren’t exactly happy with our lives either. When we are in a level F life, at least we feel that things MUST change. In a level C life, things are not terrific but we can put up with the parts of our lives that bother us. The things that bother us do not bother us enough for us to feel the NEED to change.

A level B life is one that is leaning towards life being great. We’ve worked hard and achieved many of the things we want to accomplish. We are content with our life. Things are pretty good. Only a few things bother us and the things that we wish were better, we find ourselves decently fine if it didn’t change. The problem with the level B life is a problem that occurs down the road. The fact is that people do things to satisfy themselves. People won’t engage in activities if they do not feel it will benefit them in any way. When people live a level B life, life is good, but over time things become boring. It doesn’t take that much to satisfy ourselves. Some of the best times of our lives are spent around friends or doing things that are meaningful to us. For some, it’s when they are having a deep conversation with a friend. For others it may be playing a particular sport, and for others it may be going for a hike in the Sierra Nevada. When we feel like we are pretty much satisfied with our lives, we start to feel that something is missing in our lives. That something is a lack of meaning or purpose. In other words, boredom. Life begins to feel lethargic and meaningless. We pass time only to satisfy ourselves. It is only when we look outside ourselves that we find new meaning in the things that satisfied us.

An example to give an idea of what I mean, imagine living a good single life- whatever that may be for you. Without finding some other meaning or way to contribute for a higher cause, we find a lack of meaning in our lives. That is how we will get a level B life to a level A life.  

It’s important to realize that what got us from one level won’t take us to the next. We all have a desire to move forward and to progress. I believe it is in our nature. Stagnation of water is a breeding ground for disease. Stagnation of life breeds lethargy, boredom, and a meaningless life. Comfort can be good. We all need to relax once in a while, but too much relaxation is nothing but a slow decline of living. There is no such thing as stable in life. We are either growing or regressing. When we “maintain”, we are really regressing very slowly. We just don’t see the results of maintaining because the results show themselves very slowly. For example, when I lift weights, and I’m not that motivated to eat right and feed my body every three hours with the proper macronutrients, I find myself getting weaker week by week. When I eat every three hours and eat right, I can feel myself psychologically and physically being able to lift heavier weights each week. There is no such thing as maintaining. We are either growing or regressing. 

Things to take away from Issue 1:

-          The three types of burning desires
-          The three times when burning desire wanes
-          Why stagnation is a breeding ground for lethargy, apathy, and boredom.
-          To advance higher from a level B life, requires focusing on something bigger than ourselves.