I’m not super clear on timeline so these dates are not accurate to the day.
I remember that I roughly first came across David Deutsch’s philosophy ideas on August 25, 2019 from his first podcast with Sam Harris. That got me super interested and I dove deep into his ideas, listening to a lot of his podcasts, finding old blog posts, and so on. By about September 9th that led me to discover curi.us and I joined the FI discord from there. I think Justin was the first person I met and chatted extensively with that day, although I think I introduced myself to curi and a few others that first day as well. I liked that I was able to ask questions about DD’s ideas and people answered them in a simple, understandable way. I was 23 years old at this time.
I don’t remember when I first took a long break from FI but I do remember roughly how it happened because it was an emotional series of events for me. I had made promises to another FI member and did not keep them, and I felt bad about failing to keep them and left the Discord server. This seems to be a pattern, and I’m concerned that I may have a habit of subconsciously making promises I won’t keep, breaking them, and then using that as an excuse to declare myself a failure and double-down on giving up entirely instead of trying to find a way to succeed.
More specifics on the incident from what I remember (I don’t have access to the Discord logs and my memory is fallible so I might be wrong about some of the details, but I will do my best not to be biased to myself and to be accurate about what happened): I disagreed with something an FI member had said, and another FI member held me accountable to it and called me out, explaining how I was wrong. He asked if I was willing to concede what I said, and I said I was busy with a League tournament but would get back to him. He followed up with me, and I remember at one point I was no longer busy with the League tournament and could have done the work I promised to do at that point, but I didn’t, and I ended up leaving the Discord instead. So I think I was afraid or unwilling to concede and just admit I was wrong, or afraid to do the work to analyze the text and see that I was wrong and then admit it. I also ended up feeling guilty about my dishonesty about how busy I was since I did not readily admit a few days later that the League tournament was over and I was no longer busy. I let the implication stand that I was still busy instead of correcting the facts once they had changed. I also felt bad for breaking my promise to get back to the FI member once I was no longer busy.
Also looking back, the League tournament was no excuse. I could have made the time to spend 20-30 min to read the stuff and admit I was wrong. Really it just looks to me like my entire series of actions was not about truth-seeking, but about something else. Something more harmful to me, like saving face or avoiding emotional pain from finding out specifically how I was wrong.
I don’t remember how long my break was but I did rejoin at some point and apologize, and I think that’s when I started discussing here on the CR forum, as the Discord community was being phased out from what I remember.
Then in November 2021 I did the same thing again, where I made a promise to an FI member, and I broke it. I want to keep the details on this incident more vague for privacy reasons, but I basically said that I set a calendar reminder to do a thing, and then I didn’t do the thing by that date, and I felt bad, and then I just avoided logging into the CR forum to avoid having to face it. I built this huge monster in my head of all the bad things that would happen/emotions I would experience if I logged in, and they were far worse than the reality of the situation (Which I only found out when I logged in today, ~14 months later, to realize that reality was actually a relief and nobody was actually mad at me despite all the wrongs I had done and harm I had caused)
This is a pattern too. My fear and anticipation of things is often far worse than the reality of them. Another example from my past is when I would avoid checking my bank account because of a fear of how little money I had. But once I got over that and started checking it regularly, I had no fear about it, and I was able to budget better, save up more, and end up with a healthier financial life. I have to somehow learn that every time I avoid facing reality, I’m only delaying it and the negative effects will accrue and be worse later.
The other emotional moments I remember in CR were when a community member called me out for playing a videogame while I was supposed to be working, and that I’m the kind of person that is the reason why telecommuting faces resistance/pushback from businesses or other employees who have to pull the slack caused by people not working as much as they should when working from home. That was a fair criticism and I remember I did not know how to respond and it forced me to face my own moral failings and I felt really bad about myself. That post made me focus more on my work and I got better at my job, so I should go back and thank that poster for holding me accountable to a good moral standard.
I’m still working at the same organization, although my job/role is different, and I’ve gotten much better at my work. I remember the other criticisms at the time were about why I was focusing so much time on an MMO (New World), especially when I had just started a new job and new jobs take extra energy and focus to learn well, so I should be prioritizing attention to that until it’s more automated and I’m better at it. That was correct too and I was unwilling to admit or look too closely at that truth. Today I realize that I’m glad that the way my work is is that I’m expected to deliver certain results, and my team leader has said he doesn’t care how long it takes me to get those results. He’s there to support me if I need help, and if I can do fine on my own, that’s great. So I don’t feel guilty any more if I’m not working my full shift because I just try to optimize my own schedule to accomplish the results that the organization cares about. Lately I’ve been trying to do as much focused work as I can in the first 2-3 hours in the morning, with my notifications and emails turned off and work phone set to silent etc. to minimize interruptions. I’ve found that when I stay focused and disciplined, I can get a lot done like that, and I don’t often have to work the entire 10 hours in a day (I’m scheduled to work 10 hours a day, 4 days a week)
I am looking at a career switch into project management and working on doing the Google Project Management professional certificate through Coursera, and that’s partly because my job is at the federal government and they recently mandated that all federal employees go back into the office 2-3 days a week. The office is a 1.5 hour commute away and I have not learnt how to drive yet, so that could turn my in office days into 13 hour days unless I switch my schedule around and maybe try to schedule 6 hour days in office 2 days a week, or move closer to the office. However, I should have been looking into a career switch a lot longer ago because I’ve been unable to really innovate or be passionate at this job because it’s so clearly defined and static. Most of what I do does not build into transferable skills and I don’t get to be very creative in my day to day tasks. It’s kind of just a rote execution of a checklist that I’m trained to do, and occasionally I get trained on new checklists to execute.
An online League friend told me about project management and I realized that what I was doing at some of my earliest jobs in real estate was actually project management, because I was coordinating different kinds of projects like real estate development projects, or an interior decoration project for a building we we were about to finish building, and was coordinating with architects and other consultants as well as keeping my boss updated on things and connecting team members with consultants or vice versa to keep things moving forward. I was also using software to track the progress of various tasks and keep a moving estimate of how long a project would take to be finished, and I had been reading blog posts and books at the time on how to do it better. I think I enjoy jobs where I can read things to improve at my job and do it better, and my current job does not feel like one of those (I could be wrong about this)
It also made me realize that a lot of the cool ideas from FI were based on project management and great thinkers like Eli Goldratt, and I liked Eli Goldratt’s books like The Goal but never implemented them properly, so switching careers could also give me an opportunity to dive deep into those ideas and enjoy implementing them in a practical way. Ideally, I should learn to implement them in my life, but I’ve often noticed that I seem to be able to implement best when I’m doing it for a job or a project where I’m helping someone else. When I’m trying to solve my own problems, I’m much less courageous and much more anxious and get more into analysis paralysis and thinking too much and not doing enough. When I’m learning stuff to help someone else or to do my job/career better, I just implement it and see what happens and learn from it. I want to learn to treat myself better and be more courageous on my behalf, and to treat my problems and issues as worth addressing as persistently as I sometimes help others. I think the other thing is it’s more emotionally painful to admit my own problems and shortcomings and flaws, which is a necessary first step to working on them in an honest and effective way.
This online League friend works at a tech company and said he could get me a job as a junior project manager there if I complete this certificate, and he also said that based on what he knows about me, he thinks my interests and personality are a good fit for project management in general, since I seem to like connecting with people and helping people, and I also seem to like learning stuff and implementing new ideas/methods of managing projects and solving problems. He lives in Seattle but he’s moving to Vancouver this week so I will be meeting him soon. I do feel lucky that I met him through a videogame and that he’s helping me improve my life and career. My only hesitation/trepidation is a kind of imposter syndrome thing where I don’t want to get a job because of nepotism/get a job I don’t deserve just because he works there or has influence in the organization, and that I don’t want to disappoint him/fail him. In the past I would have turned him down or run away from the situation (I ghosted a previous consultant from the real estate company when I quit because she said that she liked that I admitted my mistakes in a consultant meeting when I was giving a presentation, and that she wanted to offer me job – I felt at the time that I didn’t deserve what she was offering and I didn’t know how to turn her down, so I just ended up not calling her back after that conversation and that inaction from me still haunts me to this day)
So this time, to not make the same mistakes of the past, I’ve decided I will put significant effort into becoming capable and competent at project management so that I can actually deserve the job and do it effectively, and if I struggle at it, I will put in the work to improve as fast as I can so I can earn my place there. The downside of my low-self esteem/imposter syndrome problem in the past is that by quitting or saying no, I also deny myself the opportunity to potentially grow and improve so that I’m worthy of the thing I think I don’t deserve, and I’m also denying the other person’s autonomy because I’m assuming that I know better than they do what kind of value I bring to the table. It’s taken me time to realize that often other people have a more realistic understanding of the value I can provide at a job than I do (and this is bad and I need to change it. I remember reading some really old blog posts on curi.us where curi was confident in his ability to deliver value as a programmer and to solve a wide variety of programming problems and I want to learn to be more like that over time)
The above is kind of a tangent but hopefully adds some context to the emotional problems that I tend to have in life. I’m noticing that the mistakes I make/problems I have that hurt me in rational discussions also hurt me in real life. The patterns are the same, like that I fear failure so much sometimes that my inaction becomes a far bigger failure than if I made any proactive choice, even a bad one, and that I sabotage my own progress by trying too hard too quickly and burning out and then using that as an excuse to give up for loooong periods of time (like 3+ months), or that I get obsessed with individual people and their ideas without first choosing the best people to get obsessed with. For example, I got obsessed with Jonathan Stark’s ideas for a good while (Like 2+ months), but it would have been far better for me if I had gotten obsessed with Eli Goldratt’s ideas for that time period instead. I think curi mentioned something like this at some point, but I don’t want to mis-attribute that to him. I’m only mentioning it because I also don’t want to deny him credit for this idea, as I know it definitely didn’t come from me and I don’t deserve credit for it.
To close out, as this post is already far too long, I figure I should list out various thinkers whose ideas I’ve dug deep into in the past. I seem to have a pattern of being monomaniacal about certain people’s ideas for a few months at a time and diving super deep where I absorb a bunch of their stuff, but then I don’t implement a lot of it, although I seem to retain it over years since I can still talk about the ideas in detail 2+ years later, or find specific timestamps in videos I remember or specific blog posts etc. to reference them. (A friend also told me that I might be autistic like he is, and that made me curious. He said he was diagnosed around my age and only because he watched a documentary about it and went to a doctor because a lot of the signs applied to him)
As a kid (Age 13-14) I liked Robert Kiyosaki’s ideas. His book Rich Dad Poor Dad is what got me interested in Real Estate. Today I don’t endorse him at all and I disagree with a lot of his stuff, especially his ideas about network marketing (basically multi-level marketing).
Later on in life I got into (in no particular order except the one I can just remember them in): Simon Sinek, David Deutsch, Seth Godin (I read and enjoyed like 5+ of his books and he has so many more), Derek Sivers, David Goggins, Jocko Willink, Jordan Peterson, Elliot Temple, Ayn Rand (Not too deeply, just mainly through FI and reading Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and some of her shorter stories that were recommended by curi, like Anthem which I liked, as well as some of her philosophy lectures/stuff online), and Jonathan Stark. I’d say I read a lot more books ~4 years ago, but over the last ~2 years it’s been more blog posts and podcasts than full books.
Also wanted to mention before I forget… There are many times I’ve thought something that I wanted to write on FI, and I didn’t write it, and I came to regret it and it caused this kind of (metaphorical) hole in me. A hole of like regret, and then I would think about writing it again, and then not do it, and it would get worse. Each time I considered it and chose not to do it, I would come up with new, bigger fears and worries, and I would let those fears and worries win out over my sort aspiration to just say the thing and share it and potentially benefit from getting it out there. So one of my goals is to not hold back as much and to just follow through on my impulses a bit more (even if sometimes they are bad or I make a mistake, I think I need to learn to be more concerned about missing opportunities than of making mistakes)
So I’ll start with one that I’ve wanted to write since 2020 at least but never shared because it felt weird to share, and it’ll be the closing point for this post:
I remember in the FI Discord curi wrote something like (and I wish I had the logs saved so I could avoid misquoting him, I apologize if I mess up the context or the wording, I hope I get the general idea right, just treat this as a paraphrase):
99% of people over age 25 who are not already honest will not ever choose to become honest.
And that terrified me because I was like 24 at the time, and I thought to myself, “Oh shit, I have less than a year to become honest, otherwise I’m screwed forever.”
And I remember there was an ensuing discussion and curi specified that he used the word “choose” not that they couldn’t become honest, just that they likely wouldn’t choose to be. So even though I am 27 now, I am optimistic that I can make choices everyday that help me become more honest with myself and others. One thing I am doing is I’ve set a daily goal that I will write down every lie I tell. It forces me to be more conscious about lies and so far I haven’t written any lies down, but that’s because every time I’m about to tell one, I realize I will have to write it down, and then it forces me to ask myself, “Is this lie really helpful/productive/worth telling?” and then I just don’t tell it. And sometimes it has meant I told the truth at a really awkward time when it could have hurt my relationship with someone, but so far it’s never been as bad as I imagined, and it’s only improved my relationship with people (or made people who want to be lied to just avoid interacting with me in the future, which is fine by me)
Sorry for the long break and the long post. Please don’t feel pressured to reply or help me. I will do my best to be proactive and write updates here and introspect and self-reflect. I understand that the majority of the work has to come from me, and other people can only guide me to resources or give me perspective to help me make better choices, but ultimately I can’t change for the better if I’m not willing to do whatever it takes to achieve my goals.
Dunno who said this, but a quote comes to mind:
“If someone doesn’t want to learn, then nobody can teach them. But if someone wants to learn, then nobody can stop them.”
I want to become that unstoppable learner. And I will figure it out one way or another. I really appreciate what curi has built and maintained here over many decades and I want to give back as much as I can over the course of my lifetime. I’m fairly useless right now considering all my shortcomings and flaws, but I will do my best to contribute by being honest and open and persistent, even when it hurts. It’ll get better with time and effort and open communication from me. I trust that much about the process and hope to hold that long-term vision even when I’m struggling with emotions in the short-term.