On this episode William and I discuss: why do people say I am gay and how your sexual orientation can become a defining characteristic of your identity (if you let it), how to ghost, including how we ended some recent relationships, our struggles with loneliness and abandonment, how you can turn your passion into something you support yourself with, combining ambition with patience, living with your parents in your late 20s, and the advice we wish we would have gotten in our depressive periods.
“I’m told by my managers I used to work for that you can’t be what you were here, they reminded me… I tend to reign it in until I figure out the lay of the land, and straight people I think generally don’t have to do that on the same level” -William Addington
“I have never been included in a regular circle of friends I feel like… I was always sort of the odd man out that they would include for one event but never again, and I’ve never had a real best of friends…” -William Addington
On this episode, Chanel and I talk about: how her experience of being misdiagnosed with thyroid cancer changed her perspective and personality, the story of one of her depressive episodes, including how it started and how it ended, the root causes of our compulsive and excessive behaviors, and how to overcome the pressure to be nonchalant and instead show the people in your life that you care about them. The podcast isn’t exclusively focused on heavy topics, and there’s more laughter and lightheartedness in this episode than any before. Some of the lighter topics include: Chanel’s theory about fuccbois, under what circumstances does ordering pizza become a sign that you need an intervention, and how to act like a sociopath to make people fall in love with you. Chanel is hilarious, smart, and kind, and I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to share this conversation with you.
Chanel’s experience with depression pt.1 (how it started)[43:40]
How Chanel finds the courage to be earnest in our ironic, non-intimate, “cool” world. How to overcome the impulse to be see as cool and shamelessly perform vulnerable acts of kindness, and stories of when it’s backfired for us [47:50]
What sorts of excessive or compulsive behaviors do we currently struggle with? My biggest emotional issue: a fear that I’m unloveable[1:22:00]
How to be less intimidating in a relationship. Stories of intimidation holding us back in relationships [2:00:00]
“It takes time to do stuff with your life and to get to a better place. If you’re throwing time away, you’re in trouble.”
“There’s this facade that people put on where they don’t care about anything at all” -Chanel
“If I can’t let you know that I care about you, if you get weird about that, then maybe I should care about you less.”
“I think the drive for [lack of intimacy] is ‘how can I not address the issues in my life’ by working out a lot, or sleeping with a lot of girls to numb myself.” -Chanel
“Why would I want to turn someone into a band-aid and then throw them away at the end?”
“Any excessive behavior is because you are not addressing issues that you have” -Chanel
“I would hate myself, then I would do something I regretted, and then I would feel bad about it, and then I would shame myself about it.”
“I felt the flippant nature of what life was, and it could end really soon for me, or I could get into a really crappy situation where I was gonna have to deal with medical things everyday and I was not going to be able to do anything, so I was going to do as many things as I can now and have fun and not worry about what my morality might say about it, or what my conscious is saying. I served myself… only in that time frame.” -Chanel
“It’s really arrogant to think I understand this person’s life and I know how to live it better than them”
•One way to prove maximal is proof by contradiction assuming an element > the maximal element
•DAGs are described by their sets of vertices & edges
•Listen to classical music/OSTs to focus on solving math problems/proofs
•Save longer problems for the beginning of sessions so I'm not interrupted mid-problem
•Attempt problems more aggressively even when I'm completely unsure of what to do
•Attempt 3-4f (6.0042j)
•Work through circled problems on ps3
•Read & highlight IWT through Ch 7 X
•Read and highlighted actionable advice from Ch 4-6
•How to set up automatic transfers across financial accounts
•Spend one long session knocking out the entire book so I can do more meaningful work
•Finish highlighting the book
•Finish the 10x results podcast √
•Make a vert learning plan X
•Skate the 10ft bowl in McKinney X
•Finished listening to and taking notes on the podcast
•Turned my notes into action steps
•You can deconstruct something by asking why repeatedly and searching for untested assumptions
•Do all future note taking with pencil and paper
•Do a 5 minute discovery journal on "Why can't I do a 2ft b/s air?"
•Analyze the results for untested assumptions
•Make a learning plan for learning backside airs
•Skate the 10ft pool in McKinney
•Spend 30 min focused on APPD √
•Complete 1% of BF √ (2% complete now)
•Completed 1% of BF
•How to compile in XCode
•Use the correct BF website
•Complete the next BF exercise
•Spend 30 min/day focused on GU everyday X
•Spent ≥ 30 minutes on GU 6/7 days
•The more I regularly I spend time on GU, the easier it becomes to get started everyday
•Once I knock out my minimum requirement I feel energized and excited to keep going, usually after switching courses
•Work on GU every single day, no matter what. This way it is no longer is a choice, just a part of my life
•Work on GU everyday, even if it's only for 5 minutes
Notes: After reading How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win BigI’m testing the system of making progress on Graduate Unschool a no-exceptions daily habit. This is what made my 1% a day course work so well in the past, uninterrupted consistency, and I know once I go a few weeks without missing a day this project will require significantly less willpower.
•Work for 30 minutes √
•Attempt a problem from 6.0042j √
•Start LoS √
•Attempted 3-2b (format problem set #-problem #)
•Read 1/3 of LoS's intro to rapid learning
•Attempted & solved 3-2c
•Spent ~1.5hrs focused on SWE
•A topological sort on a partial order x is a total ordering y s.t. a x b => a y b
•Construct topological sorts starting with the min & max, then fill in every element from the set
•Make connections to everyday life to accelerate learning
•Dilworth's Lemma: For every t, every partially ordered set with n elements has either a chain of size ≥ t or an antichain of size ≥ n/t
•Continue moving forward (it's going well)
Attempt 3-3c (6.0042j)
•Spend 30 minutes focused on SOLO √
•Read & synthesize actionable advice from IWT for 30 minutes √
•Read and highlighted actionable advice from halfway through Ch 2- most of Ch4 in IWT
•The purposes of using retirement accounts (IRA, 401k) are the tax benefits & special matches from employers
•Gradual habit changes are more sustianable
•Speed read the book faster
•Finish highlighting Ch 4
•Spend 30 min focused on VSK8 √
•Listened to 'How to 10x results', took relevant notes for my deconstruction phase
•Constantly testing assumptions is what allows you to find learning hacks
•Listen to the podcast at my workspace, not on the couch
•Finish the podcast. Follow insights in my notes.
•Make a learning plan for learning backside airs
•Skate the 10ft pool in McKinney
•Spend 30 min focused on APPD √
•Complete 1% of the bitFountain app course (BF) X
•Completed the opening & closing panes exercise on BF
•How to perform the basic text editor display functions on XCode
•Start XCode before journaling (long start up time)
•The next BF exercise
•Spend 30 min of focused time on GU everyday X
•Spent ≥ 30 minutes on GU 4/7 days
•Spent ≥ 3.5 hrs (= 30 min X 7) on GU over the week
•Started & maintained a daily GU work journal & a daily progress report
•The journaling & daily progress reports make me feel more focused
•Use fun activities to get me started (MIT problems/SOLO work)
•Batch together tasks with large start up times (APPD)
•Spend Sundays making these progress reports (I'm writing this on Tuesday)
•Decide on my weekly goals ahead of time
•Spend 30min/day focused on GU everyday
Notes: Although I’m still not working very much I feel like I’m starting to actually make real progress. It’s been 6 months since I’ve correctly solved a problem from an MIT problem set, which is really motivating. I realize that I’ve been procrastinating on days where I’ve planned to work on the app development or skateboarding courses, and that I really look forward to working on software engineering and the solopreneurship courses. I’ve been spreading my time equally over all the courses so far, but as I try to solidify the habit of dedicating 30 minutes each day to Graduate Unschool I might want to focus on the activities I’m most excited about until the time commitment becomes a natural part of my life.
My big win of the week. The powerset is partially ordered by the “subset of” relation.
Attempt an MIT problem and read/experiment with the 'Learning on Steroids' online course (LoS)
Start LoS. Attempt a problem from MIT's 6.0042j course
Spend 30 minutes skating vert √
Learned to skate my new vert board. Attempted to skate transition again. Filmed my starting point bs air
Vert skills atrophy quickly
Have a plan so I don't get confused or discouraged when I get to the skatepark
Structure the learning approach using Tim Ferriss' 'How to 10x Your Results, One Tiny Tweak at a Time' podcast.
Work for 30 minutes √
Decided on mini-courses and objectives. Clarified the learning method.
Action is the underlying learning method. What I'll be doing and the underlying method. A course a week is not a goal, action matters.
Compile all actionable tips into a journal. Cross them off as I complete them
Synthesize 'I Will Teach You to be Rich' (IWT) into an actionable list
Work for 30 minutes X
Force myself to start and complete the smallest possible section of the app course I'm taking
Get 1% further in my online app developer course
Spend 30 minutes a day X
Published 'Unquitting Unschool'. Made structural changes
The hardest part is getting started. Once I start the 30 minutes flies by, but now my willpower is mostly exhausted with starting.
Make a progress report format (this). Keep a general Graduate Unschool journal. Update progress report fields every time I work
Spend 30 minutes a day of focused on Graduate Unschool (GU) everyday
Notes: I feel like I didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked, but I made more progress than last week, and I identified a few changes I can make to improve next week. I understand this is not impressive, but right now it’s about sticking to my plans and moving forward, not impressing anyone.
The peak of the highest backside air I could land. My starting point for the vert skateboarding course.
This is a follow-up to my first post on this blog, the announcement of my Graduate Unschool project. I am writing this not with the excitement, enthusiasm, and optimism that shines through my original post, but instead with a lump in my throat, a knot in my stomach, and a deep sense of shame and embarrassment. I’ve tried to write other articles for the past few months, but I always felt somewhat dishonest for not addressing what’s going on with the largest and most ambitious project I’ve ever attempted (the sole thing I intended to base this website around) especially because it went so differently than I originally planned or expected. This is the article not the article I wanted to write. This is article I needed to write.
First, a little background on what I attempted. A year ago I decided that instead of attending graduate school I would create my own graduate school, make the courses up, hold myself accountable, and be extremely transparent about the process. I always seek to take on more and more, and after feeling bored and unchallenged at the end of my college experience, I decide to make this the most intense and difficult endeavor I’ve ever attempted. I designed five different courses, each with a unique and extremely difficult end goal, and each paired with a different learning method. The purpose of the project was to simultaneously learn about the topics I was most interested in, and to test and develop new learning methods, making the focus of the project primarily on learning how to learn. Below I have listed the course topics, goals, and learning methods, as well as where I currently stand with them.
Recursive Learning/ Deliberate Practice
Complete 9 MIT CS Courses, 150 Programming Puzzles from CtCI, and develop 2 board game AI Systems
Build an iPhone app and distribute it through the AppStore
Very Little Progress
Secret Course (Social Skills)
1% Improvement a Day
Improve my social skills by 515%
I gave myself a hard deadline of six months for the project, and intentionally chose goals and benchmarks that I believed would be completely impossible to accomplish in that time frame. I chose to do this because I saw getting close to perfect scores on tests and in college classes as a sign that I wasn’t pushing myself enough, that what I was attempting was too easy for me. Success to me has never been defined by how well I’ve performed, but instead whether or not I tried my absolute best, gave everything I had, and put my whole heart into it. Graduate Unschool was set up so that I could leave everything on the table and still potentially come up short.
Here’s what ended up actually happening. I was misled by my passion to start early. I became achievement focused instead of process focused and funneled my energy towards accomplishing the end goals instead of learning as much as possible. I stopped living in the present; I moved from wanting “to do” to wanting to “have done” my tasks (I didn’t want to sit down and do another MIT problem set, but I wanted to have completed the software engineering degree). I never expected anyone to follow, care about, or even read my progress and articles, (before announcing Graduate Unschool I’d spent almost a year blogging, and had never had more than three people read a single article), but when I realized that more people than I regularly have social contact with were keeping up with the project, I felt a pressure to perform. A pressure to not fail. Instead of trying my best simply to move forward everyday, I took my impossible goals seriously. I worked myself to complete frustration and exhaustion for a few weeks, then burned out. I felt guilty about my failure. I avoided the project. I made unsuccessful plans to catch up in secret, and I found myself with a guilt driven avoidance of the topics and learning methods I’d originally wanted to focus my life around.
Looking back it’s easy for me to speculate as to why this went so wildly different than I planned: I never even explored the learning methods because I was so caught up in accomplishing things, I was neither public nor transparent about any of it, but I’m ready to move forward and learn from this failed learning project.
I’ve given this a lot of thought and the truth is, I still care, I still want to learn, and I think I have partially purified my intentions. I’m going to take what I’ve learned from this past year and use it to approach the project in a healthier, more adaptive way. Instead of having harsh deadlines to fall behind and beat myself up about, I’m implementing the most powerful learning method I encountered during the project, consistently improving 1% a day, across the project as a whole. This keeps me grounded, it’s achievable without being easy, and moves me forward fast (at an exponential growth rate) without becoming overwhelming. I’m going to shift the focus off of myself and the end goals, and refocus it on learning about the learning process, and what new insights I gain as I progress through the project each week. This means I will no longer have to toil, writing a giant self indulgent article about my emotional state every time I give a Graduate Unschool update. Instead I will be posting weekly progress reports, regardless of how much progress I end up making that week, so that I can actually be public and transparent without becoming ego-protectant and narcissistic, as I’m afraid I became last time. Finally, there will be structural changes made to every course and the project in general, but these changes will be adaptive. They will happen as I move through the courses and learn more. I’d rather start moving in the right direction today than wait until I devise the perfect plan to start.
There was so much about college that I loved. The moments where I finally figured something out and dropped whatever I was doing to test it. The long hours of complete engagement in the problem solving process. The days where I unexpectedly acquired a new skill. The idea that there was always something left to learn. Graduating college was the truly disappointing part, but I think it’s because I was in it for the journey, not the destination. When I arrived I wondered why did I do all this work? Was this a giant waste of time? Did I even want this? I think I finally understand the answers to these questions. I did the work because I enjoyed doing the work. Time that you spend engaged and working on yourself is never a waste, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you expect it to. No, I never wanted to arrive anywhere, I was just enjoying the journey.
My learning journey will never end, and Graduate Unschool should be about making the journey as enjoyable and engaging as possible. I need to love what I’m doing everyday and not want it to end because even when I reach my foolishly intense end goals I don’t want to stop learning. This time I never want to arrive. I want to spend the rest of my life as a student. I want to hold true to the tagline of this website, learning full time, but I want to make it clear that the goal is to learn, not to learn full time for a couple of years then retire. I want to learn how to learn so that I can learn more. This is my manifesto for a lower pressure, healthier approach to my creative projects and my life in general. Consistency over intensity. Purpose over passion. Iteration over perfection. Humility over ego. Honesty over silence. Doing over being. Wanting over needing. Working over talking. Giving over expecting. The present over the future. Loving over infatuation. Unquitting unschool.
“When we lose we have a choice: Are we going to make this a lose-lose situation for ourselves…. Or will it be a lose … and then win?” – Ryan Holiday
On this episode Zoë and I talk about: how to overcome the obstacles preventing you from going on your dream trip now (without needing to borrow money or get a crazy job), how to look inward, how to ground yourself in uncomfortable situations, how to cope with feeling like you don’t have a best friend, creating groups for growth and change, and what her hopes and dreams are for the future.
On this episode I talk with Danielle Dallas Roosa about: the GoFundMe campaign for her new show Missing the Mark and what led her to make it now, how you can be more of your authentic self, and how social media has turned much of our lives into a performance. Hopefully Danielle’s story will motivate you to recognize your power and to start building your dreams today!
What is Missing the Mark/what led you to make it?
What does Danielle struggle with now?
What potentially misguided actions has Danielle taken to project a public image?/How did she bounce back from it
Danielle’s recommendations for people who are getting caught up trying to please others instead of being their authentic selves* (my favorite segment)
Why is it important that Danielle make her own show now
Danielle’s Thesis: Life as a Performance
How to relieve yourself from social(/social media) anxiety
The importance of being in a creative environment
What advice would Danielle give herself the day she graduated college?/Closing advice
On this shorter episode Ryan and I catch up and share the ideas we’ve been tossing around in our heads recently. This one is jam-packed with actionable advice including: the guiding principles we use to improve and simplify our lives, how to be more authentically yourself, how to make progress towards the things that are important to you, and the importance of actually working hard at something. We let things get juicy as Ryan publicly reveals what he’s been wanting to say to his ex-girlfriend, we share stories of how we’ve gone overboard on certain things that have been detrimental to our lives and we recognize that our insecurities often reinforce our bad behavior. There’s more in here too, if you want to hear something in particular, just check out the chapter markers below. Thanks for listening.
Ian Borukhovich: B.S. physics, Ph.D biochemistry, lead of a data science team, musician, hand-balancer, + practitioner of other random skills
I finally had the opportunity to make a podcast episode focused around my favorite topic, learning how to learn. On this episode I had a conversation with Ian Borukhovich about: making fun goals that you can actually follow through on, learning via experimentation, how to continuously improve at anything, going deeper into the skills you’re interested in, and other learning/skill development related topics. Ian is one very few people I’ve met in real life that I feel comfortable describing as an actual polymath, and I’m sure with his relentless self-experimentation and evolving learning methodology he’ll only become more interesting as time passes.
My only advice around this episode is to try out some of his ideas/suggestions. I’ve been playing around with a few of them over the past few weeks they’ve been working well for me.
“I always had this fantasy since I was young about being a self-made genius, and you were the first person I’d met that was really into that too.”
“All of this is a bit inhuman. To have stimulus that you’re constantly digesting, that you’re converting.” -Ian
“It’s not so important that I achieve exactly that goal, but spending time towards it is certainly valuable, and I appreciate that value so I’m going to pursue some piece of that goal, at least for some time.” -Ian