October 19, 2014
Weeks roll past at Warwick at an incomprehensible speed. No day is the same and I feel my motivations, desires, and interests being continuously jolted like an electric current.
The course of my life has taken so many violent turns in a short amount of time.
I am pursuing new, challenging goals that I never even saw coming before I came here.
I want to put out fishing nets all around this ocean. Maybe then I'll end up catching some fish.
Am I building myself a new identity?
I don't like to think of it in that way. I am building on my identity, adding layers to what makes me me, filing the edges, smoothing down the corners, going forward.
I want to be sharp. Quick, clever, on top of my game. I want to feel in control of my mind.
We have been reading the Gorgias by Plato in philosophy and I have really enjoyed it as it has motivated me to have a new kind of grip on myself. I realise drawing upon ancient philosophy for self-motivation seems a little silly, and while I disagree with many things Socrates argues in this dialogue, it has brought me fuel.
Socrates advocates ruling yourself; being self-disciplined and in control of yourself, mastering the pleasure and desires that arise in you. He argues that a good mind is a self-disciplined and organised one. A self-disciplined person is just, brave, a kind of paradigm of goodness. He argues it is the path to happiness. This happiness, eudaimonia, is a form of human flourishing.
Doesn't that sound beautiful? While this explanation is a definite over-simplification, it is something I want to try. Blooming and flourishing, yes please.
What are these habits I try to smooth out of my mind?
Laziness, moping around, negative thoughts and discouragement, loneliness, feeling mentally unstimulated, not being focused, and not having a high awareness of what I am doing, seeing, learning, reading, or feeling.
I just have this constant desire to be better, to do better, to create more profound, more complex, more beautiful things.
So maybe to explain this to you in a more concrete fashion, I'll mention a few things I have been working on.
Working on my degree is top priority. Every week we are expected to accomplish a decent amount for each module.
Politics is all reading at the moment. We have weekly reading lists that I sometimes struggle to keep up with. They have a couple chapters from around five books in the core reading (i.e. compulsory) and the supplementary list is very, very long. For tutorials we are to read from around four works very closely as the content of the tutorial will heavily be discussion based on the reading.
Economics is mostly just comprehension of basic concepts right now. We are required to do one problem set a week on our own and another during our tutorials, plus a bit of reading. I've learned a few new things and I like the mathematical perspective they take on here. I am being questioned about minuscule details I didn't think about before. It is nice to find new curiosities in simple concepts such as demand and supply or elasticities.
In philosophy we read Plato's Gorgias and are now moving onto Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill. Every week we would read a certain amount of pages and answer some questions based on the passage for each lecture. Quite straightforward.
In maths we are to do a formal problem set each week that is checked in the tutorial. However, as my mathematical aptitude is not at the level I want it to be yet, I am trying to do some supplementary exercises to get a good rhythm going.
My degree work however, isn't the only thing that is keeping me busy. I have been attending every event hosted by Warwick Finance Societies in hopes of gathering as much information and motivation to help me succeed in my applications for spring internships at investment banks.
I have been to networking events, mentoring sessions, and lectures on the technicalities of trading foreign exchange. I have mock interviews, CV clinics, and more networking coming up next week. It is such a dynamic and competitive industry that would be so stimulating to get into.
As my degree doesn't include any finance, I have been trying to pick up some of the basic concepts by reading and researching online. The support and opportunities on offer here at Warwick blow my mind.
When something challenging, competitive, and interesting is dangled at my eyes, I just can't resist reaching for it.
I have also been listening to amazing talks. A few weeks a go Tim Harford, a renowned economic writer (author of the Undercover Economist) spoke to us about economic forecasting in his amusingly anecdotal talk.
Sometimes I feel like not only is the value of these talks in the content itself, but in the surge of motivation and drive it gives me to hear an expert speaking of a topic in their field.
Last week Alastair Newton, a political analyst for the bank Nomura, briefly covered the most important political conflicts and their possible effects on certain market variables. His presence made me so giddy.
It is so wonderful to meet people who have a strong grip of what is happening in their field. Makes me want to know so much about something I love. I want to be able to confidently answer any tricky questions fired at me. I wish to be able to offer top of the class analysis that can lead to good decisions. These are the reasons I am even in university.
I want to write an article for 'Perspectives', a political magazine on campus hosted by the Politics society. They are giving me free hands to pick any topic I desire. Isn't that amazing?
These activities have left me in a state of hunger to do more, to know more, and accomplish more. In fact, I start feeling anxious if hours have passed and I haven't made progress on my to do list.
This is something I need to work on. Not only do I want to be productive, I also wish to be comfortable with just floating for a little while. Having time away from everything. Taking walks in nature, exercising, working on our photography with my boyfriend and jamming on the ukulele with my friend have done those things for me.
I started salsa classes! I cannot even tell you how much joy and confidence I get from it. I have a few friends doing it with me and it is such a great release to learn more moves and improvise during the freestyle portion of the class.
I am also keeping up with my musical interests by going to Glee club each week. Singing has always been my go-to outlet when I am stressed. Singing a cappella with others is even better.
Doing so much requires a lot of organisation and thinking. I try to take one day a week to sit down and plan the week ahead, day by day. I try to organise my mind like this too.
I took a the night bus up to Glasgow to visit my boyfriend this past week. I had a transfer in Birmingham and at 3 am as I was walking around the sleeping city I had a moment.
I just realised how crazy this all is. How brilliant I can make my life. How fortunate I am to have these opportunities, to have so much love in my life. I can't even comprehend how privileged I am.
A part of me is afraid that I'll let these opportunities go to waste or that I will fail in my pursuits. I just have to keep going, keep putting in the effort, keep reaching for excellence.
breakfast in Glasgow after four hours of sleep on the nightbus
Ben Howard came out with his new album this week and I have been obsessed with this one line in it:
'It's in your nature
Blooms inside your blood'
I aspire to reach excellence.
Living like this is in my nature, in my blood.
photos by Ilkka Matias Kumpula