A new imposter syndrome journey

I am so deeply afraid of imposter syndrome.

It started when I was 15 and was appointed as the new concertmaster of my high school’s strings orchestra over a senior, I genuinely believed she was better than me at violin, but I understood the rationale of my teacher’s choice as I would assume the position for the next three years. I felt like an imposter, because the concert master before me had been playing violin for nearly as long as I’d been alive, and I had only started in my teenage years. He was someone I looked up to greatly as an inspiration, a quite literal genius who would go on to UPENN and study medicine at Mayo Clinic.

In my senior year of high school I got the role of Scar in our production of Lion King. I felt like a fraud. I fought constantly with my director, I had never seen a teacher get so frustrated with me. I was used to being the golden student.

In university, I am known as the magician. I was invited to and performed multiple stage shows. Again, I felt like an imposter. I’m not nearly as good as the magicians I aspire to be like, and I fear that some day, another magician will see my stage performance and call me out for using simple and mainstream tricks.

(delayed flight by two days) today I’ll be taking a plane and leaving my home city for the first time since 2019 to spend a semester abroad at Cambridge University.

I have an essay due on my first supervision at Cambridge, which are the weekly 1-on-1 tutorial sessions you take at Cambridge for the course you are s studying. The essay is about intuition and Kant’s explanations of reality. There’s no hiding in a class where you are the only student.

IMPOSTER SYNDROME TO THE MAX

But. Here’s the weird thing. I haven’t had this imposter syndrome feeling since 2019 before I had to come home. I always have imposter syndrome when I’m doing awesome things: when I’m performing violin solos, giving monologues as Scar, and performing magic to a full auditorium back at Villanova. “I shouldn’t be here,” I think to myself, right before I stand in front of hundreds of people and perform a magic trick for the first time.

People often get this imposter syndrome feeling when they are uncomfortable.  But is it specifically those situations where you go out of your comfort zone that you grow and do amazing things. These are the moments I need to relish and enjoy. This is what it feels like to feel alive.

I want to feel uncomfortable. I want to do great things again. I genuinely feel like I lost the past two years of my life. The past two years have been god awful. I think that narrative has been shared with a lot of people. But I don’t want this to be a pity story

The next two years will be different. I can only hope it will be. Today I am stepping out of my comfort zone, away from my family for the first time in two years, away from the couch I called home. A new country, a new imposter syndrome journey at Cambridge… More life.

Proud to be Asian-American

I am Unapologetically Asian

In 2020 I was constantly asking myself how I could be an ally for BIPOC and the BLM movement
I started with little things. The basics of social media: share, like, and interact with posts. That moved to taking a class on the discussion of race and reaching out to my Black friends and peers just to check-in. I wanted to let them know that at the very least, I was listening. Listening to Black voices through videos, articles, books, essays, and research. At the end of the semester, I decided to focus two thesis papers from my history economics course and my philosophy course on the history of slavery and equality to try and convey these injustices. I still have a lot to learn.

Personally. I’ve never particularly felt that my ethnicity would pose a danger to myself and my family. It was, for the longest time, something I could not truly fathom, a fear that is experienced by many other minorities. Sure, I heard the regular scheduled xenophobic comments here and there, like open your eyes, or what are you eating it smells so bad, and the occasional chink. But I never felt like my skin color would make my life more dangerous because I live in a town that is quite literally greater than 50% comprised of Asians.

On March 10, 2020, we officially entered into a global pandemic

I knew the flood of racist comments was coming. We would be the scapegoat; and bigots around the world now had an opportunity, banded together, to unleash their racism.

“The China virus”

It was our fault. How dare we? Go home. We are not welcome

Racist people can’t even be racist properly. Non-Chinese Asians, to my understanding, were similarly attacked. People don’t care if you’ve never even been to China. If you look Asian, you were the problem.
I remember in my race class explaining the history of why China (and other parts of Asia) eat dogs. China as a country has a very poor history. When you have 1.4 billion people to feed, and poverty running rampant, the breadth of what is considered “edible” expands. China’s poor history is how we can trace a lot of my culture’s cuisine: stinky tofu, hocks feet, chicken feet, cow intestines are all staples of Chinese cuisine. It took me no more than a few minutes to explain this but it allowed my peers to sympathize with my culture. They listened.
The past few months I am utterly shocked and irat

The deep-rooted racism towards Asians is peering out as we have become scapegoats for current events
I started doing research. Readings and articles and videos have shown the increasing PHYSICAL assault and VIOLENCE that Asians are experiencing. I am sick to my stomach seeing people assault, rob and attack my people. A video of an elderly Chinese man being pushed to the side of the road made me want to hurl. The cries of a Chinese grandmother being robbed and assaulted made me feel so deeply sick. People with the same Chinese surname as me, appearing on the news, being assaulted and brutally attacked. Today, I saw on the news of another Asian owned-store being robbed. A 46-year-old good samaritan Yong Zheng saw the robbery, and along with other pedestrians, tried to chase the robbers. Zheng saw a crime and tried to stop it. He was stabbed four times and died upon arrival at NYU Hospital.
I didn’t realize until recently how bad it’s been. And then I looked at my own history and realized that I’ve felt this unease first hand this past year.

A few weeks ago I shared on Instagram the public racist comments of three random people calling me a chink and other racist comments. In 2020 I also experienced physical violence because of my race. In Vancouver, where Asian culture is such a prominent aspect of our city, Asian hate crimes have increased by over 700% in 2020. It is only getting worse.

So what can we do?

I don’t know

I am still trying to figure out how these systemic issues can be solved. But like my devotion to better study BLM and Black history in North America, I believe it is education and awareness, and sympathy, that we need to spread
And so I am going to make a promise to better understand my own history and the history of Asians.

WE ARE NOT JUST A MODEL MINORITY

But please. A simple thing you can do is watch out and protect us. Be an ally and stand with us and hear our voices. We are not just a model minority. We feel the same pain as other POC for not having the systemic privileges of being born white.

I watched a report that there was this Black family that patrolled around the neighborhood in Compton during the day to just be a watchful eye for violence against POC. This warmed my heart and I felt the love and allyship being reciprocated.

I just want to know that we have allies. I know we do. And in an unprecedented time, community and friendship and family and allyship are more important than ever. It’s time for everyone else to open their eyes as well to see that we are being attacked and discriminated against.. I ask that you spend just as much time discussing these injustices and actively fighting against systemic racism as you do talking about how much you love KBBQ, Sushi, Bubble Tea, and Dim Sum.
Please continue to Listen.

Please continue to watch out for your fellow Asian friends.

WE ARE NOT JUST A MODEL MINORITY

For the leading source of Asian American News, follow @NextShark on Instagram. Please be advised some of the posts may be disturbing for audiences.

For learning more about Asian-American culture, WongFu productions on YouTube is a household name for producing very high-quality entertainment videos, dramas, comedy, rom-com, and other great skits, even having a movie released on Netflix. I highly recommend their short rom-com series “What is a Yappie?” free on YouTube.

This post is not to take away from the suffering from other communities around the world. Right wow more than ever we need to unite through our humanity

I will try to continue to post resources and links on my social media on how you can stay up to date on Asian-(North)American news.

Like, share, comment, repost. Our voices need to be heard.

Much love,

Jeff

Buying Bitcoin in 2014

Everyone wishes they bought Bitcoin or got in on the GME hype or invested in [insert exponential growth investment]
I remember back in 2014 was when I first heard about Bitcoin and was offered it as payment. I’d be a multimillionaire today if I had accepted it.
But I always think that getting in on these hype investments is synonymous to winning the lottery ticket. A lot of luck is involved. (I will give mad props though to early adopters who researched fundamentals)
But anyways
There is a lot of research that shows people who win the lottery don’t have significant long term changes in happiness.
Here are likely a few reasons for this
1) winning the lottery means you became wealthy not off meritocracy but off luck. This is not a great feeling
2) the skills, hard work and experience of building wealth is skipped. Your wealth changed but you didn’t gain any new skills or knowledge
3) going from 1 to 100 in wealth is difficult to manage. We are bad at step-ladder increments as opposed to linear. IE we flinch at initial hot water, but can slowly increase the showers heat as we slowly adapt to new temperature
Anyways
I ocassionaly think about these things to make myself feel better for not accepting a few hundred Bitcoins back in 2014
Does anyone know what the next Max Lotto prize pool is?

free will

I do not believe, in general, that people do acts of evil for the sake of evil (there are exceptions.) There are always certain scenarios or predicaments that humans are put into, and, due to our imperfections, we may find imperfect solutions.
Humanity is inflicted with this imperfection of free will, we are then prone to sin.
But since sin is a human afliction, then our understanding of evil and good is also a human fabrication, so we must discern between these fine lines with human distinction.
Right and wrong are inherently clouded in ambiguity–furthermore, we are then expected to discern between right and wrong and somehow make the proper choices, despite our own shortcomings.
Even if God were to give us the truth, IE, thou shall not kill or steal, is there not certain predicaments in humanity where doing so would be justified? Is the man who steals bread to feed his family evil? To the baker, yes; to the family, he is a hero; to a bystander, we feel ambivalent. Here the man may understand his wrongdoing but justifies it.
Instead, we may look towards society: is society not evil in putting this man in such a predicament where his imperfection leads him to such an imperfect solution? I am eager to find these Truths, and furthermore eager to right future wrongs.

What is Love?

What is Love?
To Nietzsche, Love is Envy
The person you love is the person you envy
You strive to be a better person out of love; the person you love has the qualities and traits you admire.
Envy, in the context of love, is meant to bring an aspirational ideal and foster a relationship of striving. You make each other better. You want to become a better person for the sake of your lover.
But envy and jealously can bring on issues such as obsession or resentment, to the point where love turns destructive. Instead, the desire to become a better person transforms into an ugly desire to destroy the other person, bringing them down to one’s own level, or placing them on an unreachable pedestal as you fawn over them.
To Aristophanes, Love completes you
Before humans looked like the way we look now, we were instead these round blobs with two heads, four arms, four legs. We rolled around the Earth and, through our pride, sought power, and sought to overtake the Gods.
Zeus saw the humans’ lack of humility and struck us with his lightning, separating every human blob in half.
A single head. Two arms. Two legs.
Love is seeking, quite literally, your other half. I suppose the ancient Greek philosophers knew about this cliche far before modern rom-com writers.
Yet, this mentality of finding a lover to “complete” you make us fall into a disastrous trap of dependability.
IF YOU ARE SINGLE YOU ARE NOT WHOLE. IF YOU ARE ALONE YOUR LIFE IS NOT FULFILLED. IF YOU ARE NOT IN A RELATIONSHIP, YOU ARE INCOMPLETE.
When finding a Lover becomes your sole responsibility and goal in life, you start to lose sight of other things that are valuable that make life fulfilling. Most importantly, you forget the most powerful love, which is self-love. How can you expect love from someone else if you do not love yourself?
If you do not love yourself, and you seek this lack of self-love from someone else to complete you, you will fall into a cycle of lacking.
There is power in independence. There is humility in being single.
A relationship will not necessarily “complete” you. Succumbing to this ideal not only disrespects your individuality but also creates a mentality of dependability.
A true, powerful and sustainable relationship, are two independently complex individuals (as all individuals are equally uniquely complex) coming together to form a stronger bond that is greater than the sum of its parts. A Lover should not make you “whole”. A lover should embellish who you already are as an individual.
To Diotima, Love is Spiritual
Love is a ladder – different steps we must take before reaching true Love.
We start with the physical, the weakest form of love yet a very necessary step of the ladder. We must first appreciate the beauty of the physical before we move on to the beauty of the soul and appreciate the emotional aspect of beauty. Here we fall in love with a personality, with virtue, with ideals. Eventually, we move to spirit, and essence, and the very idea of beauty itself. Love becomes much more complex and more abstract. We love one’s essence. We love beauty itself and we see this true form of beauty in those we love. The purest form of love is the love of all beauty, humanity, and God.
As we move up the steps of the ladder, the forms of love at the lower steps become less valuable. When you fall in love with one’s personality, the physical becomes less important. Yet, to move up the ladder means we must move through a sequential guide, but love knows no bounds and should not be restrained by some ladder of steps.
What is Love?
I believe Love continues to elude us because there are no true criteria.
Love knows no bounds.
Love is patient. Love is kind
Love is unconditional. But, perhaps it should be conditional.
Love is Envy. Love completes us. And love is spiritual.
To Love is to Live.

boiling a frog in toxic water

Some people are just looking for drama

These people are toxic

If you put a frog in boiling hot water, he will jump out immediately.

If you put a frog in room temperature water and slowly boil the water, the frog will adapt to the heat and eventually bathe in the water in its own death.

If you spend too much time with people who are always seeking out hostile environments, you will soon become numb to this behavior. Before you know it, you will surround yourself with toxic friends.

It is important to call out people for the behavior you do not approve of, even if hidden under the veil of a “joke”

It is always better to make an uncomfortable decision so you can avoid disastrous situations.

The paradox of “Normal”

Last week I got a haircut because I wanted to look normal again.

I had been growing out my hair for nearly 6-months, as I had largely been confined in my home since the world decided to roll over and disturb the peace of what many of us considered “normal.”

And, that same week, I decided to pick up a book and start reading again. A book about humanity now sits by my nightstand, and a book about Love sits next to my laptop desktop.

I then had a much-needed reunion with some of my best friends from high school – our bi-annual reunion, as I “normally” spend 10 months of the year outside of Canada. Yet, during high school, I would spend 8-hours a day with these people.

Because, last year this time, what was considered normal to me was reading one book a week, getting my hair cut every 3-weeks, traveling the world, performing magic, and writing daily.

I want my life to go back to “Normal.”

But for the past 6-months, while I grew out my hair, I had to adjust to a new type of normal as I battled my health concerns and not to mention all things considered with how the rest of 2020 has been going.

And so, while I progress towards my past “normal” life, what I’ve begun to realize is that the true paradox is assuming that “normal” exists in the first place.

When I was 14, “normal” meant waking up at 4:30 AM to train basketball for 2 hours with at the time my best friend, before going to class, followed by 2 hours of musical theatre rehearsal, followed by basketball team practice, and getting home at 9 PM to self-study four AP courses. In university, “normal” meant waking up 5-minutes before classes started and stumbling over to the business building while somehow managing to grab an ice-coffee so I could stay awake before my afternoon nap.

I have gone through phases where “normal” meant I felt fat. To phases where I was used to having 6-pack abs. To phases where physical fitness wasn’t even on my agenda.

For the past 6-months, “normal” meant being quarantined at home like a couch potato and suffering as I thought about how much life I was missing out on. I wanted to see the world. Two years ago, around this time, I had traveled to four different countries in the summer.

My hair was so long that it could cover the entire length of my face down to my chin. So yes. I cut my hair – finally – because I wanted it to go back to normal.

But normal doesn’t exist.

As much as I want to go back to the way things are, it is better that I soon realize that there is nothing I can do to escape reality.

Whether it be the way my physical health adapts, or my mental health, or my relationships with family, friends, with society, it is all a misunderstanding that normal is something we can actually achieve.

My life will never be able to go back to normal because I’ve experienced new things; I’ve seen society change. I evolve – for better or worse – and I’ve made new relationships, forged new contracts with the universe. Each of us has a unique version of what “normal” is.

I miss the days of being 12 and having no worries.

I miss spending time with my best friends.

I miss the “normal” of my childhood friends who I’ve mostly lost contact with.

But I can’t dwell on something that doesn’t exist.

So here’s to forging a life worth living, writing about, thinking about, remembering, missing, and let’s forget the normal life.

I want an extraordinary life.

I want to close with one of my favorite poems, which might shed some light on these paradoxes I am battling.

Paradox – Sarah Kay
When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.
When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.
When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.
I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.
On the mornings when my brother’s tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him,
For every moment you aren’t playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.
I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.
So instead, I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.
When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was grateful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.
All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.
And even if it is just for one moment,
I know I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

Oil falls 30%, rise of clean energy?

Russia and Saudi Arabia are in an oil-price war, with oil falling to under $30/barrel earlier this week, dropping from highs of $80/barrel just a few years ago

Many people may view the drop in oil price as a win for oil and a loss for clean energy

However, in my view, the instability and volatility of oil and natural gas, in turn, shows that clean energy is the solution: clean, environmentally friendly, stable energy

This bump in oil markets is a win for clean energy.

Stop specializing: I am my own niche

For years I’ve thought that the way to truly be successful and influential in your field(s) was to specialize – experts would always best Jack of all trades, masters of none.

Yet I quickly realized I had so many interests, genuine passions, for so many different fields that didn’t necessarily coordinate well together.

In high school, I’d be deeply interested in chemistry and math classes and how the world worked, my favorite class still was acting, and yet I received the top English award.

After class, I’d balance basketball practice with musical theatre rehearsals and violin orchestra practice. I constantly wondered whether I was spreading myself too thin, and I also realized I was never truly able to be the best in any one field.

I ended up dropping the basketball team out of lack of dedication, I felt like an imposter leading my high school strings orchestra as concertmaster for 3-years, and when I played Scar in Lion King I couldn’t help but have a lingering feeling of regret that I sacrificed basketball to sing. Why couldn’t I be like Troy Bolton?

Now I am at another semi-crossroads.

Am I the magician?

The philosopher, daily blogger?

Will I work on Wall Street and run a hedge fund, trading stocks, and options?

Or will I dive into academic economic research and cure poverty – my all-time goal?

I don’t have the answer, but I think I’ve come up with a path: I am my own niche

Specialization worked in the days of Henry Ford assembly lines, and yes it still works today too

But there’s something to be said about the creativity of bringing in interdisciplinary skills and disciplines

The most recent book I’ve been reading dives deeper into this concept of Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

Steve Jobs famously cited his Chinese calligraphy class for giving him the inspiration for pioneering Apples typography and design

Roger Federer didn’t specialize in tennis until much later than his peers, and in fact, might have learned towards soccer at one point in his childhood

And Lindt chocolate brought together dark chocolate and spices to create something new, unique, and not necessarily specialized but surely special

There’s ultimately nothing wrong with specialization, and equally nothing wrong with having a broad range of skills.

I hope to find a balance between both practices so that I can further build bridges between philosophy and business.

Massive Group Suicide?

There is an old myth that lemmings, these rodents, will occasionally, in massive hoards, jump off cliffs into the water and their death. It’s quite a grim scene.

This scene of following the leader is often cited as an example in behavioral psychology as a danger in mass-conformity and herd-following.

There’s only one problem: lemmings don’t conduct group suicide.

Lemmings multiply fast and they need to migrate after a huge population boom every 3-4 years to find more space. Lemmings can swim, and may try to cross rivers or bodies of water in search of a new home. Inevitably, some will drown.

It would be quite curious if lemmings did commit mass suicide, still, this story is an irresistible metaphor for decision behavior and the dangers of conformity and mass-herd following. You never know who might be leading you off a cliff.