All posts tagged philosophy

  • Performance of Self (is hard)

    I have been listening to an audiobook called in The World Beyond Your Head and Chapter 9, The Presentation of Self, has really been sticking with me and I thought I’d share.

    In the past, there were more trades people and a person would received his identity through his vocation. He was successful and viewed as successful by the amount of experience he had. He were respected as his professional and comforted by this identity.

    Today, we have come to emphasize the individual and we are in charge of our success by “discovering ourselves.” A man is now responsible for his destiny…and any failure to measure up is also his fault. He is constantly trying to “become himself”…and the constant performance is tiring. This is the cost of being able to reinvent yourself all the time instead of having a trade you are valued for. We go through all this social sorting throughout life—classes, school, jobs, internships…—which also reinforces a social stigma of self-inflicted failure. We have created so many opportunities to be ranked and compare ourselves against one another. We have this an unrealistic ideal of how to be in the world and it’s depressing. Literally. The book connects this cultural movement with an upswing in depression.

    I thought this was interesting because it has coincided with another podcast I’ve listened to discussing depression & suicide. One thing they’ve found is that people with harder lives don’t necessary commit suicide at a high rate, like one might guess. Twice as many white people than black people and a surprisingly high number rich people commit suicide in the US. In fact, regions with a higher quality of life have a higher rates of suicide. They gave an example of poorer groups of people plagued with disease, hardship, and high infant minorities with virtually no suicide rates. While not qualified, one of the researchers personally guessed that if you feel unhappy and there doesn’t seem to be an external cause like a job, family, or health, you might consider it an internal defect, thinking something wrong with you.

    Something we all know from greeting cards & Disney movies manifests itself in the real life: You can be materially successful and miserable, or have simple means but be content every day.

    — —

    If you’re interested in the book, I don’t necessarily recommend it. It’s kind of dense and philosophical—but maybe that’s up your alley.

    If you’re looking for ways to be happier, I would check out the short podcasts The Science of Happiness podcast where they ask folks to try happiness projects and then discuss the psychology behind it. 

  • The good you do

    “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know”
    — WH Auden, poet

    People my age believe they can do good in the world. They seek it out. They hope that they can spend their lives making a difference in the world. Heck, just look at the title of my blog. Something I realized relatively recently is that I also felt guilty because I didn’t think I was doing enough. That I hadn’t set up a future doing more. That maybe I wasn’t even really set up to be the do-gooder I want to be. That maybe I would spend my future being a money-hungry cog in the wheel.

    It was really hard for me to wrestle between future-life-decisions. I didn’t think they did Good enough (not were good enough). I’m still trying to work it out, so let me know how it sounds—but what do you think about being ok with the little good things you do? The daily attempts to be a good or better person than you were before? Is that ok? Is that a cop out?

    I was philosophizing with my friend Mark about it, and I told him I don’t think we people should feel guilty about the good they manage to do. That the quiet hard workers who help the community run does good for the world too. He told me he liked that idea. He told me that his father was so relieved when his minister gave a sermon that being a father was serving God. His father had felt guilty that he wasn’t about to help more people or to be spend more time with the church. He’d been working so hard to provide for his family. When he learned that it was ok to be ‘just’ a good father and husband…it made him feel more at peace.

    How does that sound to you? I think we hear stories of people giving up everything and going out in the world and dedicating their lives to advancing this or that cause and we (I) feel selfish that we’re (I’m) not doing the same. It seems a little dirty to say “you don’t have to go that far.” Like a scape goat. At the same time, I believe in the every day heroics of being a positive member of a community.

    zoo

    At the zoo. That’s me with the drank.

    Within the last year, my mom shyly asked if I had a good childhood. If she had been a good mom. I was like “What!?—Mom, yeah! I had a happy childhood.” I mean, I think there were parts of it that not all my classmates had to go through, but it seemed normal enough to me. She mentioned sometimes feeling bad that she couldn’t give us more or feeling like things ‘were always so tight.’ We’d do free things like go to the park, or to the zoo (she got an annual membership), or the library. We went to the library almost every week. My brother would get a huge stack of books, my sister would get a few art books, and I would get books about animals. I remember the library had old DOS computers where you’d type something like “A” to search by author. We invented games to play with each other, we explored outside. It was great. These were memories and experiences that shaped who I was. The things she felt conscious about I participated in readily.

    My mom did the best she could. It would be sad for me to think of her efforts as anything less that than what we should all be working towards. She woke up, made us all breakfast, herded us to school. Cooked food for dinner. Worked all day. Made sure we ate. Cleaned the house. She was practically a single mother with the perk of having my father’s warm body to babysit us after we got home from school.

    So maybe I’m just trying to justify a future that I’m starting to predict might be a quiet, well-mannered one in many ways. But maybe that’s how it starts. I’m excited to get back to a normal schedule where I’m not working around the clock. I was thinking that maybe I could volunteer at a library again since I had so much fun in Denver. I think about at least the small ways I can feel like I’m doing good.

    You should never feel bad about the good you [can] do.

  • Confidence isn’t for you

    One of my ongoing resolutions is to be more confident. This was not really accomplished last year and when New Year’s came around again, I didn’t actually make any promising. I realized that, besides my horrendous typos, I didn’t have bad habits that I was treating to break. Rather, my resolutions were me trying to improve myself. Something that I think is a bit harder to accomplish because you can spend a lifetime working on it.

    But a couple of days ago my dear friend Robyn sent me this little 2015 packet. It had postcards encouraging me to make 2015 a year of hospitality. To spread the love, so to speak, through a variety of little missions of kindness. The very first card asked me to name two additional resolutions for 2015 (besides being more hospitable).

    hospitalitycards

    And so, here I was confronted with the question of what I should resolve to do for 2015. And the rest of my life, really. I knew I already had an itch, something that bothered me: confidence. Especially this last semester when I struggled so much to get through each week. I felt like the confidence my abilities plummeted. Somehow I knew I was capable, but I felt useless. My friends have this odd impression of how I work that is far more pleasant than my actual work process. I don’t really glide through the finish line, it’s always a clumsy stumble or I’ve desperately inched myself across. I know that’s not always the case, but that’s how it feels to me. I have this vivid image of what I want to have accomplished and if I haven’t, I’ve failed.

    So, my goal for 2015 is to be more confident. I realize now that goal is too vague. That’s why I haven’t really been able to do it. I need ‘confidence metrics.’ What does it mean to be more confident? What are confident actions? I have this professor I admire and she’s friendly but direct. She’s comfortable with her actions and thoughts. She’s contentedly confident and it’s so intriguing to me. I want to be more steadfast myself.

    I went to this amazing talk at Interaction15 this week and the last speaker, Mike Monteiro (a symbol of confidence) gave his talk on the 13 ways a designer screws up a presentationalthough I have the link, you should wait until the video comes out because he’s an ahhhhmazing speaker. One of the most important takeaways I got from his lecture was that confidence isn’t for you, it’s for your client. Or anyone else if you don’t work with clients. It’s to reassure them that you’re the best person for the job, that they hired you for a reason. They have a problem and you’re going to fix it. If you are confident, they will feel that and feel better about their decision for you to help them. They are vulnerable. There is something outside of their expertise that they don’t know how to fix and they can only hope that you’ll help them. Because you are the expert. It really turned confidence on its head for me. I never thought of how it might affect the people working with. Although I have gotten feedback that my teammates have wished I was more confident…

    Here’s what I propose to do:

    • Ask for the things I want. I usually keep my mouth shut because I think I’m being polite. I don’t even know if being polite. For some reason I think I’m being more polite because I’m invisible. I think of the times that people ask me for things and I don’t mind one iota. I think the same goes both ways. James Victore gave us this speech when we were doing a workshop and the punchline was: Just ask. Just ask for what you want because maybe you’ll get it. In fact, usually you will. This could be a minor thing like sharing supplies or even getting paid the amount I think I deserve.
    • Don’t apologize. I seem to always apologize for not having done enough. Ask Mike said, what ever you did is exactly what you were supposed to do. If I haven’t harmed anyone there is no need to apologize.
    • Take a compliment…Instead of fighting it. Someone is trying to give you something even if you’re refusing it (and even if they’re wrong ;) ). It seems dishonest to let people think I work more effortlessly than I do, but I guess it makes people happy.
    • Volunteer in class at least once a week. To be fair, I often feel like I can’t think of anything fast enough, but I’ll try. I know what a difference it makes to the professor.
    • Answer emails in 15 minutes without fretting. I’m definitely fret over what I should and shouldn’t say longer than I should. I edit an email 10 times before sending it (for content, not grammar. It’s still always filled with typos). They are just people and I should respond as confidently to people I’m working with as I do with my students.
    • Talk louder when I’m teaching. The more confident I project myself as a teacher, the happier they will be to be my student. I feel like I’m yelling in class already, but I think I could be more audible.
    • Use less words when you’re giving feedback. Get to the point sooner. They want your help. I think I hedge my answers too much like I have something to prove. Instead of letting my first answers sit and grow, I expand on them to death and the more I talk the messier it gets. Just say what you think and stop. Related: don’t use any qualifiers in my sentences (may, might, a little, kinda, “I think,” “I feel like,” etc). Mean what you say.
    • Say at least one positive thing about your work. Let’s be real, Jacklynn, not everything is the worst.

    Remember: confidence is for them.

  • “Make your habits gold”

    Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 10.42.58 AM

    I finally made that habits post I promised you! Some of it might be old hat for my two blog fans, but if you’re curious, check it on out Medium!

  • My “Blinding Flash of Obvious”

    My dear friend Sarah shared this phrase with and I experienced it this week: A blinding flash of obvious.

    I am absolutely obsessed with defining myself. I probably have always been, a little bit, but after I graduated from college it intensified. It was like this furnace in the basement of my mind that was always burning looking for more fuel. I wanted to find out what made me me now that I wasn’t in school, wasn’t being graded, didn’t have a major, and had moved to a new place where I didn’t know anyone. I would ask people what they thought of me. I would take psychology tests and even read horoscopes. I was this, I was that.

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  • Week 4: Letting go of holding on to everything

    Grad school must be working or something, because all I can think about is design and my environment and the relationship between everything. Sometimes I feel really dumb and that I just can’t critically think about anything that’s being talked about in class, but when I go home, read articles, or notice something, there it is: a moment from class captured in real life. I feel like I keep seeing connections between what we talk about in class and the things other people are saying or doing. It’s like when you learn a new word and suddenly you hear it all the time. It’s not that it’s any more prevalent, but you notice it more.

    For all my griping and uncertainty, there is this strength in knowing that my understanding of the world is growing. I thought about why I wanted to go to grad school and what I wrote about in my essay. I’m comparing it to my classmates’: how they’re going through classes, readings, and projects. I’m trying to gauge their happiness. I’m trying to find normalcy. Like, are we really in the school routine now? I want to ask them: are you happy? Is this real? Or are we all just trying to accept it and be happy because we’re going to be $100,000 in debt when we graduate? (That’s me getting real with you, bringin’ in the numbers).

    So, I’ve been chewing on it and I realized I don’t want to forget this moment in time. Here is how I evaluate the situation thus far:

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  • 5: Reasons I don’t like ‘rush projects’

    I am in a constantly resolving never to take last-minute projects and agreeing to them. They cause me stress and they put me in situations I don’t need to be in.

    I realized that in some cases I was diminishing my own happiness and worth and after reading this great article about saying ‘no’ promised that I would be better at standing up for myself. Well, I did it again.

    So this Friday 5 is especially to Jacklynn-of-the-Future to read the next time she gets the timeline of a new projects.

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  • Meg Jay: “Why 30 is not the new 20”

    “Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be”

    Carissa sent me this with hesitation saying it would either motivate me or antagonize my fretful nature. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist who’s talk is about making the most of our 20s, contrary to our culture that is increasingly tell us (“20-something-year-olds”) that we have all the time in the world and that we basically have a decade before we have to start being “serious.” What Jay emphasizes is that this “benign neglect” of making a meaningful impact during these years is dangerous and that we’re missing a particularly special period of our lives that can govern the rest of our future.

    Not to make you freak out or anything.

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  • Who & Why

    sagmeister

    I’ve been thinking about design a lot lately and what I want to do. This is the first time I have been able to dedicate myself completely to graphic design and that my time hasn’t been split up between communication and design (not that I’m complaining, I enjoy both). I’ve been thinking about the designers who I know and like, and why. Yes, they all happen to be famous, but it’s obviously much easier to learn about designers when you can read interviews and attend lectures from them.

    Here’s my who & why:

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  • What are you waiting for?

    TAL-Harper

    I wrote a post a few days ago but couldn’t bring myself to publish it because I sounded like such a ditz. It was about how much I love learning and school and being a nerd—things that are difficult to make interesting to others and hard to convey without sounding like an suck-up. So it sat in my drafts folder going about it’s business while I shuffled down to Ikea on yesterday and listed to some This American Life podcasts. It in the middle of New York, it kind of felt like I was visiting old friends when I heard Ira Glass begin the show.

    I picked this one, Harper High School, Part One, to listen to because it had two parts: I figured it would be long enough to get me to Brooklyn and back.

    This story is so good. This American Life decided to take a close look at one particular high school in Chicago, in response to the very violent year they’ve been having. In the last year, 29 Harper High students were shot, eight of them died. It’s not one of those soap opera stories and it doesn’t sound like a public service announcement, it’s just an incredible interview of this school. They followed around the principal, the counselors, some of the students…all of their stories were so raw and gave so much insight into the life in this part of the Chicago. The staff was genuinely trying to improve their students’ lives: to give them normal, safe high school experiences in the midst of all this violence. The students’ stories of trying to be good when there is so much bad around them. Trying literally to survive each day in a tenuous social structure where they have to be in a gang or they’d become a target. I had chills nearly the entire time I was listening to this story.

    I loved learning and school so much that this story resonated with me as its layered tragedy. So many difficult circumstances piled onto this kids. I felt so lucky to grow up where it was easy to go to school. That I was able to go to college. That I am where I am today.
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