Why Am I Still There?

Floating Staircases of dooooooom
Floating Staircases of dooooooom

Random Observation/Comment #212: Life isn’t as complicated as everyone makes it out to be, but I see now, more than ever, that we like to make problems for ourselves to solve. If we didn’t try to be self-destructive and dig ourselves a huge hole, we’d feel the opposite of complete – we would have a life with no problems and it would be the most boring thing ever.  There’s never the ultimate end-point of satisfaction in completing all of your tasks because we’re always pursuing problems that we won’t find the solutions to in our own generation.  It’s always been the stride for that greatness that has kept me going.  Where do I get my enthusiasm to always start new hobbies?  Looking back on how quickly college went, I know life is short.  Looking back on how many great memories I’ve had with friends and family, I know life is worth living.  I’m always looking for the next unexpected moment of uncontrollable laughter or indescribable happiness.  All I really want is something that makes me feel involved.  As a scientist (and general weirdo/geek/nerd/engineer), I’ve always been a spectator in this social experiment; why not start actively participating?  I think this is a valid excuse for not posting in 2 weeks.

I hear this phrase a lot when I’m around the new building: “What are you still doing here?”  It’s a simple question, but I wonder how many people want to hear the full story behind it or they’re just expecting me to say something like “Oh, I’m just visiting.”  It would honestly take at least 15 minutes and a few drinks to get the idea through because I’m still not yet sure myself.

I feel oddly attracted to Cooper – a place that has tortured me for 5 years and still continues to haunt me in my dreams.  I almost avoid seeing professors with fear that they can still make me do problem sets for them.  The nauseating feeling I get when I hear Professors try to explain safety rules to me just instinctively returns when I discuss Senior Projects.  So then, why did I write an article about the new building and then subsequently join the Cooper Pioneer to do an article about the pool tables if all of this stuff brings back dry heaving? I’m not really sure because it wasn’t a conscious decision; it just happened that way.

You know, it’s not even the question that surprises me: it’s actually the tone in their voice when they ask the question.  It’s a tone of confusion mixed with a hint of “don’t you have better things to do than to be a part of this place again?”  I must admit that, at first, it was just purely to continue taking pictures in my tourist state and then pursuing a curiosity about the new place after chatting about it so much.  I actually wound up being the designated tour guide for many of my classmates since I somehow knew the place best.

But, after a while, I felt myself arrive to the building out of habit.  It’s a nice building with decent wifi and a “smart-people environment” so, why not?  Would I look more grown up sitting down at a Starbucks drinking a tea and typing away on my computer so some hot Asian girl in a tight white jean skirt that comes there every morning recognizes me and will maybe sit down to chat with me?  Would I become that guy that sits at Starbucks writing random stuff on their laptop pretending to grab inspiration from the surroundings with hopes that the girl would ask me what I was doing?  Am I sitting in the Starbucks to capture the full details of the experience where I spoke with this random girl and accidentally gave her a wrong number? Do I avoid the Starbucks every morning because I waited too long to show up there as a routine anymore so now she thinks I am avoiding her because I didn’t enjoy our initial chat about monkeys in suits?… Maybe she’ll get it right if she tries subtracting the phone number I gave her by 400,000.

Anyway, I’m at Cooper because it’s still a nice place to do work.  Even if it’s a new building, I’m still somehow pushed to get things done by the smart-vibes that this environment exudes in cartoonish stinky waves.  It might be sad, or probably really creepy, but I’m just doing what I know works for me.  Plus, being able to stay in the “college community” in some way makes me psychologically avoid my most important current problem of growing out of the college phase.  I felt like the time I had in Germany was so incredible that if I could give Cooper another chance, it could make up for all those all-nighters with coffee and redbulls, and replace them with all-nighters with vodka and redbulls.

Above all else, trying to do work anywhere near the place where you grew up playing with legos and wetting your bed is a lost cause.  Even if it’s for the commute into the city and getting some fresh air, I just need to get out of the comfortable PJs, occasionally shave, and maintain sanity.  You may think job hunting and interview practicing is fun (if you’re crazy), but in reality, I can’t always write emails and search websites for this crazy opportunities; I need to keep moving and work on something interesting.  I never knew this about myself, but it’s good to know to know now: I need a new project every few months to challenge a different part of my brain.  And just like that (imagine I snapped my fingers), I decided to go into finance (just kidding, I love it).

~See Lemons Flutter

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