Sunday, April 5, 2015

Are you your own person?

In an episode of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai wonders whether she likes Pop Tarts only because when she was little her mother did not want her to eat Pop Tarts, so when she rebelliously did, they tasted of sweet sweet freedom. Eating Pop Tarts made her feel like she was finally her own person. Today's random musing what somewhat triggered by that. 

Born in a painfully cynical family, I've grown up being sceptical of just about everything. I still scoff at many things, on principle, just because I always have. Alternate medicine, astrology, spirituality, romance, vulnerability, self-indulgence, even shopping - just the most random things. All they have in common is, we as a family never did them and poked fun of people who did. I still sometimes don't know how to turn off my inner sceptic. It always makes me wonder how much of me is myself and how much I grew up picking up on.

And then I wonder if there really is anything as "being your own person." I wrote a post on this blog once about people who take others' opinions and spew them as their own, with complete self-assurance and no explanation. Parrots, I called them. In a way, we are all parrots. Every opinion we form is, in some way, borrowed or adapted. Has to be, right? Because we exist in relation to others, the world is subjective, we are all connected. So all you can really do is, expand your reach, expose yourself to different outlooks, open your mind to newer possibilities, ask questions and engage in conscious introspection. I suppose the closest you can come to being individual, being your own person so to say, is to be a thoroughly informed parrot.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Importance of Stupidity

This blog has become my own personal running gag. I don't want to address the latest change of name and appearance. I find the new background pretty, it reminds me of mysterious old hotel lounges and magic tricks.

So getting to the point, this morning I read an article called The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research by Martin A. Schwartz, in which he talks about how a certain kind of stupidity, productive stupidity, goes into creating the right research mindset and that smart people who are used to getting their answers right may not hence be built for research. He says,

"One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries."

Interesting essay, right? It made me think a lot about whether I am, in fact, research-minded. I have been reciting, for the past few days, that I don't make a good student, which is not  to say that I don't put effort into studies - that has been taken care of lately. Even when I do score well, it does not give me the same satisfaction as I had when I taught myself (long story) phonetics, for instance. Excelling in German class was nothing compared to the sense of achievement brought by looking up intricacies of the conjunctive tense with my sister. What I mean is, I don't perform my best in your typical classroom setting and have been lately assuming this might stand in the way of me studying further, as a researcher. Not wholly logical, I agree, seeing as how research is essentially different from taking courses and giving exams - and the fact is only corroborated by the article. However, this post is not about that, or even about the essay, really.

It's about how important it is to let yourself be stupid every once in a while, to place yourself out there to be judged, criticized, mocked. It doesn't make sense to stay inside a closet forever for fear of being made fun of, for fear of seeming stupid. It is very important to, beyond a point, simply not care about past stupidities. To not be embarrassed. To not delete a blog only because it fails to make sense to you half a year later. Or edit a post that someone dismissed as silly for an inarguably justified reason. It is important to give yourself the chance to do stupid things because they are the ones that will help you learn, change. And it is very important to keep the stupid things alive and kicking, in your memory, on your blog, in a photo album, as a reminder of how far you've come, and mostly as a reminder for you to just stop taking yourself so seriously, already. Hence the revival of the blog. Oh no, did I say I won't address that?