Well, here it is: my new personal blog.
If you haven't read my latest post on xanga and are wondering what the purpose of this blog is, here's a link to the entry that should serve as a sort of introduction.
My reasons for taking time off of school, like I mention in the xanga post, are varied and complex, but also very heavily dependent on the context. Before I go into more specifics, I think it would be valuable to look into that context a bit more.
The "context" refers to the reasons for my reasons. They're my motivations for doing what I do and what I've done, and they're the decisions I've made and the things I've learned both about the external world and myself. Without defining some of these things, it's very likely that my reasons would either not be understood or be misunderstood.
So then, what is it that I'm looking for?
In essence, I want to live well. I like to think that this isn't unique to just myself, but it's attainment or ideal often takes very different forms for different people. Here's what it means to me.
I want to be healthy; I want to have the energy and strength to engage fully with life. I want to pursue my passions. I want to be comfortable with myself. I want to be my own person, and live without the mental and emotional chains so many of us become entangled in as we grow older. I want to appreciate life in the present and in all its forms. I want to stop looking to the future for better times or looking to the past for the good old days. I want to contribute. I want to create and sustain strong connections with others. I want to pursue my endless curiosities. I want to be a positive force in the world.
Ultimately I want to find inner peace within myself. I want to find that space where, no matter how chaotic things may be, or how painful life becomes, I know who I am and I know that I am fundamentally happy. That's it. Simple.
But what if the inner voice, the one that simply wants to live, comes into conflict with the external voices claiming to know what's best? What happens when one is told exactly how to act, think, and feel in order to reach some sort of standard set by traditional or societal values without the input of the individual?
I have found that, once I lost confidence in the voice inside me and started putting the opinions of others first, I began to lose myself. The Solomon Asch experiments come to mind. In these experiments, participants were asked to match one line with another line of the same size. This is an extremely easy and trivial task, but when others (a group of "confederates", fake participants) chose the wrong answer on purpose, the real participants also chose the wrong answer over 70% of the time. These and subsequent experiments demonstrate just how powerful the pressure can be to doubt oneself if everyone else seems to be doing something a certain way. It's easier for us to lie ourselves about our discontent than to risk being too different.
The good news is that there is hope. I can't speak for everyone else, but I know that for me these pressures are largely self-inflicted. There's no one out there eager to make me fail to reach my potential and live an unfulfilled life, or telling me that I'm not good enough. I chose to believe that certain things in me were deficient and that I had to search outside myself for the answers. I also held myself to standards that were not only unrealistic, but not my own.
Again not a lot of detail here yet, but in summary this is about taking my life back. This is about moving away from those unconscious choices I made that took me away from where I want to be. It's about breaking the "chains" and overcoming the demons I've set up in my mind.
I'm glad I finally decided to do this, and excited to actually start this blog. Both the leave of absence from Cornell and the blog are ideas I'd been throwing around in my head for a long time, and now it's time to launch.