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  • Writer's pictureEphemeral

The Problem and the Solution

They say that to be a good speaker, one needs to be a good listener first. To be a good writer then, one would need to be a good reader. With this thought in mind, I felt my will to read being slowly reignited - and I walked right up to my book shelf, took out books on several different topics, and shoved them in my bag to take with me to my other home.


For the past few years, I have been rather confused about what life has brought forth in terms of career and academia. I grew up reading a lot, and like other students, studying a variety of subjects. My academic studies were usually enhanced by the fact that I liked to indulge in reading different kinds of books that were not related to school. I was probably much more aware than other kids about things like Ancient Egypt, or biology, or the fact that there was actually a science called 'cosmology'. As I have mentioned before, the things I read, I wanted to be. I wanted to be a lot of things, at once, and I wanted to be huge. Just wanted to do this and that and read more and be more, and my brain became nuttier and nuttier about it with each passing day. It was like a very weird and nerdy, and seemingly innocuous vicious circle.

And then growing up happened. My body grew, and I think my brain grew. I moved cities on multiple occasions and had to make new friends. I learnt more about things that may be found in textbooks, but are better learnt from practice - social skills. I had always sucked at math a little bit (I only learnt how to subtract properly in the VIII standard), but now, I was really bad at it. Other sciences were not so bad, until they were. Math crept into all of them, almost, and they became too difficult to understand anyway, let alone with all the math. It did not suffice to know anymore what force and pressure was, I had to calculate it now. I was so screwed. I was bad at everything suddenly, and the most at math and mental calculations. And the interesting part was that I actually still liked math, which is why I continued studying it out of a faith of some sort. I just decided to give up on the other subjects that were getting progressively difficult for some reason.

Studying humanities was like not the worst thing I did, because it was an interesting set of subjects. However, a part of me knew that humanities doesn't work, neither as career - unless you wanted to be like a political figure of some sort, especially in a foreign country, or like a civil servant or basically any of the very few humanities professions that have a respectable social standing - nor as anything else, because there is literally no practical purpose of being a history teacher unless your students go on to do something useful. This part of me stuck with math for dear life and forced me to study it despite not understanding shit, to write math tests despite borderline failing them all the time, and to believe that it was for the best, despite my growing general demotivation toward studying anything complex.

Don't get me wrong, humanities are complex. It is not everyone's cup of tea to be able to employ deep thinking and see unquantifiable things from an analytical lens. It is a big deal to be able to see the big picture in humanitarian and social issues, while keeping track of their intricacies, and also coming up with solutions. However, it is perhaps a different kind of complex. Whether there is some basal commonality in these different kinds of complexities is something that I would like to think about, but haven't thought about yet. For now I would just like to differentiate between the two, because they feel different to me.

So in college, I actually studied math more deeply and with less fear and got a little better at it. However, since my major was economics, I felt that I had come too far in the direction of economics to ever go back and study anything, and I kept studying it for years, and have been working in finance for the past couple of years, and it has definitely been an interesting, rewarding, intellectually challenging, and intellectually fulfilling journey. Again, though, I do not feel any confidence in my ability to be able to use what I have learnt in the past few years for any practical purposes. And it is nerve-wracking. I should read more to be able to restore my memory of the things I have studied, so that I can use them in real life. But reading is tiring and I feel zero motivation to read. Which is what I have been trying to work on. Why is reading tiring? Because I am not good at understanding complex and abstract ideas, and I am running away from it. It is basically school again, struggling with understanding complex things makes me want to run away and makes me want to convince myself that it is okay to not want to spend your time and energy understanding things you don't understand; but it's not. It's not okay.

At least I don't feel okay.

So what am I going to do now? I am currently under the impression that I have always been someone who gives up in the face of intellectual adversity, and actually, I do not know what I am going to do about it. Maybe, I am going to try to talk about it, and get a fresh perspective on how things are. Maybe, I will finally rise up to challenge of being a dumb person, dumber than I initially thought, in the face of problems that challenge my intellect. The constant tussle between wanting to know things but being unable to understand them, and regarding doing something with practical or impactful purposes is eating at me, just a little bit, and has been doing so for the longest time. Good thing that I am at least clear on what's up.

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