This doesn’t reduce me

I still was not able to submit my thesis. Apparently there are still some leftover administration woes (!!!) which pushed the deadline to yet again, hopefully, another day. I swear in 4 days I am going to look back at this post and revel in the fact that I have finally successfully submitted.

There is a running theme in my posts, which, if you ever stay long enough you might have noticed. That is, some uncertainty and uneasiness regarding my own struggle of trying to distance myself from the capitalistic idea of self-usefulness after taking a few years break from full-time employment to pursue PhD, which manifests in my (that word again) fear of applying for roles and positions I am more than qualified of. It should be easy — I shouldn’t be scared, I am smart, I have ample experience, skills, and tenacity to proceed, but! How to dispel these buts?

My friend Syar’s brilliant newsletter post came at the right time. In between her tarot card reading and embracing her definitive short break — like, a proper break that consists of activities which serve no one but herself which at this point of time consists of gardening and putting together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle — she wrote, “If I step back from everything I’m known for, it doesn’t reduce me. And what if turning away from things that no longer excite me or no longer feel right for where I am is a way to practice my capacity for growth and change? To understand that I have skins to shed and the capacity to grow and build and make new ones, that there are versions of me I have yet to meet that offer different things to the world?”. Syar is the most self-actualised person I know, so when she wrote, “I forget the power of me simply existing in this world, as one of many members of my community, I forget that when I cultivate my garden, I can encourage other things to grow, to take root, to be planted by other hands. […] I want to feel belonging wherever I stand, I want always to remember my immense power to create, to love, to connect, I want intimate, fierce self-knowledge, I want to always feel shoulder to shoulder with my fellow humans to feel our individual powers magnifiying our collective power to fight and care for the world and each other”, I take comfort in knowing there are others like her, like me out there also, who are currently grappling with the necessity and the idea of stepping back in order to regain our potentials for growth, and in doing so, our previous knowledge, our energy, our usefulness, our love towards our friends and family and community, will not diminish.

If I step back from everything I’m known for, it doesn’t reduce me. I will be thinking about and be reminded of this phrase often from today onwards.

Also related: “When we spend our days trying to only think smart and profitable thinks, any other thinks feel somehow less than or beneath us. If we think thinks that can’t be published, or taught, or used in some expert keynote at a classy luncheon full of think-leaders, then how valid are they?” Paul Jarvis’ newsletter post about rethinking ‘productive’ thinking / writing (after all, who decided what’s productive and what isn’t?) encapsulates my struggle with… just thinking and not thinking about documenting these thinkings down for later writing.

What I am currently reading, and some other related and non-related links:

  • Silence as an urban luxury. “Quiet spaces which are free of charge are rare in the city, as urban silence increasingly comes at a cost. For people who have money to spend on the problem, the solutions are often ingenious. In Japan, car-sharing services are reporting a trend where people rent vehicles but don’t drive them, instead using them to work, eat, or nap. Karaoke booths, which are plentiful and also soundproof, have been used in the same way for a lot longer. In major cities all over the world, renting hotel rooms for a few hours in the middle of the day is becoming increasingly commonplace, whether it’s to sleep, to work, or to get some downtime between meetings. Noise-cancelling headphones are becoming ubiquitous on public transport, which makes sense: Average noise on some lines of the London Underground and the New York subway regularly exceeds 80 decibels. These kinds of headphones reduce noise by 20 to 45 decibels and are a great tool for protecting your ears—assuming you can afford the $300 price tag.”
  • When corporations turn to AI to interview college graduates, jobseekers are coached on ways on how to win over algorithm (I know, we are tired too.)
  • I love harmless (although questionable) surveillance-based projects like these — what are they called I wonder? 1. “Water like glass, quite warm here, this lingering scent” A map app that creates location-specific haikus based on random information it finds about those places. 2. Mars webcam and 3. one from years ago, Google Night Walk on the streets of Marseille.
  • Which tech company is the most evil?
  • Basecamp has been my favourite project management tool for the longest time, and they are also a company that boasts such a systematic, efficient way of working that I always want to emulate as a project manager. I am loving their guide to internal communication, which in TL:DR: provide clear writing at all times, and avoid meetings and group chats. “Writing solidifies, chat dissolves. Substantial decision start and end with an exchange of complete thoughts, not one-line-at-a-time jousts.”
  • Contemplative reading might be viewed as a minor act of rebellion in the internet age.
  • “Write with all the privileges of the majority, but with the humility of a minority.”


  • Reading: Finished Ece Temelkuran’s How to Lose a Country. Resuming Paulo Gerbaudo’s The Digital Party.
  • Viewing: Season 2 of Sex Education on Netflix!
  • Listening: Flow State newsletter introduced me to the works of Chad Cannon, an American classical composer based in Los Angeles. Check out his score for 2016’s Paper Lanterns, about a Japanese man who dedicates himself to preserving the memory of 12 American prisoners of war who died in the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
  • Food & Drink: Was on the road most of the time today, but I got some yakitori chicken and of course, coffee.

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