Wednesday, October 28, 2009

draft thought: what do I excel in?

In the past months, I have had a dreading thought in my head. This thought keep getting bigger and bigger reconfirming itself throughout the experiences I went through... the thought was that, I am just average. not like average joe, but more like, I do not excel in anything actually, and am just mediocre in well some, if not many things.

Orwell once said
"After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all - and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery." - quote from Why I write.

I actually read this quote when I was not yet 30, and thought, bullshit. And now, like I do with all his other writing, this cannot be a better description of how I feel my life is. Ofcourse, he went on to say how writers are exempt from this rule of thumb, and well I am not sure if I can categorize myself as one, but I am definitely not an exception to this rule.

The problem is that I realised at a young age, I can do several things in a relatively easy manner. Sing, dance, do researchesque things, speak ... etc.
Now, after turning thirty, maybe due to the prior expectations that I would actually now excel in some of these things, given that I have been doing them for some time already, I do not feel like my ability to do one thing is any better than the next person. Thus I am just "meh".. mediocre in ..well not even all things but some things.

My dancing days are long gone, my voice changed into that which is okay to listen to but not something that one would want to go and hear, and my research skills, well let's just say I see younger researchers produce much more than what I have done.

I have tried hard in the last week(s) to try to figure out what I am indeed good at.
I am not a great singer,
I am not a great dancer,
I am not a great researcher
I am not a great cook - my skills have decreased over the years
I am not born nor developed beauty that excels the average person
I am not that great in sports - actually with this, I am below average.
I am not sure if I am a good friend or good at socialising - I used to be...but now I just talk to the computer using blogger.
I am not even so sure if I am a good girlfriend - I think some will definitely disagree with this,
Or if I am even good in bed.. well I don't think I am exceptional in this as well.

The only two things I've found that I am good at, is putting sexual innuendo in everyday sentences, and being cynical concerning life. But then again, I am sure there are others who are better than me at this as well...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why US GDP per capita is highest of the world(with more than 5 mil population)

"... an important portion of the apparently higher standard of living in the United States comes not from working more efficiently than other comparable economies, but simply from working longer"

- Mischel, Bernstein and Allegretto, The State of Working America 2004-2005: 428-429.

and about productivity and wages...

"The typical worker’s compensation (wages plus benefits), which has traditionally risen in sync with productivity gains, began falling behind in the 1970s. Since then the gap has widened dramatically as productivity kept climbing while compensation has remained essentially stagnant."
Figure - from State of Working America 2008/2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Less is more...

Since its been quite a while since I've done anything to this page, I've decided to write one of those, "today I was reading..." posts. I mean I try not to use this space as a "dear diary" space, but once and then yes, I do write one of those as well. Despite feeling like a pathetic looser who does not have any friends to share this with in real life and have to resort to the unidentified mass out there in cyber space(hello world!), I am going to write one of the aforementioned posts... (did I just repeat myself?)

Anyhow, today Charlie Brooker wrote another one of his sharp view on life columns, concerning having infinite amount of choices and being stressed out due to it... well here it mostly concerns books and dvds. First of all, I was so happy to see that I am not the only one with the ever expanding list of books(or books actually on the shelf) to read and not enough time or self-discipline to actually read them. Phew, I thought I was the looser.
The interesting thing was his conclusion was that he wants to loose his freedom of choices, that he wants a strict regulation on what he gets to see, read etc.
Which made me think of the talk by Barry Schwartz at the TED conferences concerning the "paradox of choice"(video below), which is based on his book with the same title.

The summary (quoted from wikipedia/which quotes from this book) is

"... eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.
Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically."

This is exactly what Brooker was tapping into. The psychological anxiety due to the amount of choice we have. This has to do with the missed opportunities.

One of the suggestion to Brooker's column, by the reader, which I can't find any more, is that he should stop earning money. Since having less money really simplifies this choice making since you don't have any money to buy anything then.
Which I agree completely. I am one of those people who decided that I will not spend money on stuff, not because I am stingy nor because I am poor.. (well I was at the point when I started though), but because it's just soo much easier (thinking that) one does not have the monetary possibility to do various things.

An example. I would rather patch up holes in my socks(many of which were given to me by family and friends, thanks owen), rather than go shopping for them.
Why you ask? since I get incredibly anxious about which socks to get, the sporty ones of fashionable ones, or which brand, which shop to go to etc. It takes ridiculous amount of time and ends up with me being worried that I've made the wrong decision.
The same goes for other clothes and attire.

The same could go for books and CDs(I don't do DVDs - no I don't even download them. I just try to find free streaming services or go to movies - now that is a commitment of atleast 2 hours!!). Although I must say even in my poorest times, I've decided to splurge in CDs and books, since 1. I love music, 2. I don't buy many books anyhow.
Actually these days I resorted to buying either CDs. vinyl from bands I"ve just saw live or buying vinyl from the street flea market for 1 euro(especially because I know that they will throw away the rest at the end of the day if they can't sell them).

But whichever the case, I think the conclusion I was trying to make is that this whole paradox of choice becomes much easier when you limit your choice making to the minimal. And this links with the whole consuming less and preserving more. (also see this blog post on related topics)