If you plan on doing anything at all with your life…

another solid advice from reddit, surprisingly from r/math

If you plan on doing anything at all with your life, you’re going to need to get it together for something.

This is probably unwanted life advice, but I’m going to dispense it anyway, because I really wish I had understood it earlier.

My first taste of what was in store hit when I took upper-division Algebra. It was one of the hardest classes I had ever taken, and I spent all of the semester feeling stupid and lost.

Now, at the time, I was taking Japanese classes as well, and a large chunk of the people in class with me were Asian Studies majors. All they had to do was write some kiss-ass essays about how great Japan or China are (depending on the preferences of the teacher), and they were guaranteed As.

So why didn’t I just leave and do the easy major? I even had an interest in some of the subject material?

Because something in me snapped. I had walked away from almost every other significant challenge in my life, because I was afraid of failure. This time, I was going to set a goal, and achieve it.

I was going to finish that Math degree, because it was hard. Because I had run away from every challenge before, and it was time for that to stop.

I worked my ass off in Algebra. Spent a ton of time with my instructors and fellow students.

Got a ‘C’.

A ‘C’ is passing. I didn’t fail. And I kept going.

In the end, I double-majored. Got a degree in Math, and a second in Japanese. My Japanese GPA was a 4.0, and my Math GPA was something like a 2.8.

Fast forward to today.

The people that I studied math with are all doing pretty much exactly what they want to be. One is getting his PhD at Princeton, a few are math teachers, some work on Wall Street. A few are in the software industry with me. I keep in touch with all of them, because they are all in some way amazing.

My Japanese colleagues are in a different boat. Many are unemployed, or working in service-sector jobs that they hate. The luckiest are either teaching English or in graduate school in Japan. I don’t talk to these people much, because it feels like none of them ever graduated high school. None of them is doing anything even remotely interesting with their lives.

This isn’t because of the degrees. It’s because of the different mindsets. The math people, as a group, were smart and hard-working. The Asian Studies students avoided hard work like the plague.

Everything worth doing is hard, without exception. If you want to become amazing, get used to having your ass kicked over and over. Get used to kicking your own ass, while the people around you have no idea why you’re working so hard.

Most people choose the easy route. They never push themselves, and so they just end up being mediocre for their entire lives.

Don’t do yourself that kind of disservice.

Every person has this gigantic bucket of potential.

Few actually try and use it.

That’s why you should go for the hard degree. Because it’s hard. Because you might fail out. Because you’ll have to work your ass off, and in doing so, will have to handle a bunch of personal shit that never would have come out had you not stuffed your brain into a pressure cooker.

And in the end, you’ll be a million percent more awesome than if you had gone for an easy degree.


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