8 Weeks

I’m 8 weeks into college. That’s crazy. Even crazier is the fact that I haven’t really written anything on this blog since July. I don’t know if I can even begin to elucidate all the things that have happened in the past 8 weeks or just since my last blog post.

First of all, the most important event was the beginning of college. Despite the fact that move-in day was designated as Thursday for freshmen, I was not exactly thrilled to leave home – as I knew that making friends was always a challenge. However, I moved in on that Saturday night. Since then, I have returned home quite a few times.

I knew that I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of weekends at Tech. I expected that I would split most of my weekends between going home, to Emory to visit my girlfriend or hackathons at schools around the country. For the first 4 or 5 weeks, this did end up being the case, with 2 of my weekends being spent in good ol’ Alpharetta, 2 at Emory and only 1 at Tech. Since then, I’ve spent most of my weekends here at Tech, though I did spend one of them at GT’s own premier hackathon HackGT.

Between the weekends, I’ve been busy dealing with classes and wondering what to do with all the free time between those classes. There is so much to do, yet doing homework always seems like a waste of time when you can go anywhere on campus and just enjoy the wonderful weather outside or enjoy the architecture of the CULC or anything else. Most of my classes have been fairly straightforward, with the exception of my Math class, which has proven to be a struggle. However, I do believe I can do well. I’m already to question if my dreams of a 4.0 are viable, but that’s part of the GT experience.

On the extracurricular front, I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m really into. The organization I’ve been most fully committed to has been WREK Radio, the Georgia Tech Radio Station. I’ve been learning how to work the board and run an hourlong shift at the station while playing tons of music that I’ve never heard of (one of the underlying ideas of the station). I tried to join the newspaper but I was overwhelmed by the number of people who were willing to write for it, making it extremely difficult for me to get an article I would want to write. I also joined the webdev club and Design Club, two organizations that are a part of the College of Computing. I love Design Club and it is making me consider going into UX Design instead of just software engineering. Lastly, I’ve been involved with a branch of the religious organization I’ve been a part of since I was born. It’s nice to see people I’ve grown up with every week.

The social aspect was what I was most worried about. At first, I struggled a lot, especially with the enormous time alone that I had access to. Since then, I’ve become a lot more alone, but I’ve learned to accept it and enjoy it. I’ve made some friends, mainly with people on my floor, but between my girlfriend breaking up with me and my general shyness, I can’t say that I’ve had a huge amount of social interaction here at Tech.

I’ve written a lot and although I’ve just shallowly touched on a bunch of subjects, I do want to come back to some of these things and just talk more about them. I feel like that after such a long hiatus, I need to ease into things but also need to give a lot of writing to fill in my lost time. I also think that my writing on here isn’t the best, but that’s okay. I’ll build my skills back up.

Done but not Done.

It’s been nearly a week since I finished my daily writing goal of 100 days that wasn’t really daily and you can look at all of those posts to see what it was all about. In the last couple of days, I’ve been contemplating what to do next. I want to continue writing with a level of regularity, but I doubt I can sustain daily writing in the same form that I was doing with #the100DayProject.

Beyond the difficulty of sustainability, writing daily doesn’t net the best content consistently. Recently, I’ve been trying to comb through everything I wrote through the course of the project and see what some of my best work was. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking that a lot of the work could’ve been significantly better. The time constraint often made me finish a post for the sake of finishing it, leading to less than high quality content. More time would have undoubtedly improved my writing and netted articles that I would be proud of, rather than just saying that it happened. Of course, it’s not like I didn’t write anything that I actually liked. I know for a fact that Chicago Thursday was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve written. However, I just wish that I had written more than just a handful of quality pieces among a sea of mediocrity.

Of course, this is an expectation that isn’t really founded, but I think can be remedied as I improve. My current photography strategy can be compared to my writing strategy from the project. I would write a mass quantity of posts, but they weren’t necessarily good. The removal of the editing step led to the lack of consistent quality among the posts. Of course, if I edited my writing as much I edited my photos, I would be left with maybe 4 to 5 posts from the entire project, after hours upon hours of work.

Just like my photo strategy though, my writing strategy could go for a change. Since I won’t be bound by any difficult self-imposed writing deadline of a day, I will be able to put in a lot more effort into each post, hopefully increasing the quality of each while using a similar level of energy that my previous writing strategy did.

In order to improve the quality, I thought about what went into my best pieces. The main ones that I considered were Chicago Thursday, Why I Love Clothes, Kendrick as Joyce, and “Death in Dignity.”

They were pretty much all over 400 words. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but when a lot of my posts (especially the bad ones) were defined as finished as soon as I hit 270, it’s fairly important. Despite the fact that the length generally led to a better piece, I don’t want to push myself to write when I don’t want to. With those high quality posts, I never paid attention to the word count until I felt like I was finished and found myself astounded by how much I had written so quickly. Certain topics made it easier for me to do this, like music or clothes or experiences, but I hope to be able to learn how to get into that flow regardless of the topic. I know that with enough research, I can gain an immense interest into nearly any topic, so that may become a part of my writing process.

The future of this blog holds longer form pieces that may be reposted to Medium. I own several Moleskine notebooks that may be bequeathed some of the more personal, reflective type of content that was found here before. As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I know reflecting on my life will be vital for my success and believe that it’s a lot easier for me to re-read a notebook than it is my own blog. The malleability of blogs make me likely to start editing it rather than really focusing on the content. The ink in notebook can’t be changed.

Day 100: Done.

I can’t believe it. This is it. After 100 days, I’ve written 100 posts on this blog. This isn’t exactly how Elle Luna or I envisioned it, but that’s okay. Things never turn out the way that they’re expected to. What matters is the fact that I’ve written a hell of a lot of content in the last hundred days. When I began this project, I was bored on a Saturday night and decided to write my first post and synthesize my personal beliefs with a pretty book I read. The next week, I found myself with a ton of homework and was considering giving up, less than a week after I had started.

That action would’ve been super typical of me. I was really used to starting things and giving up on them soon after. However, by giving myself the lax rules of being able to catch up if I missed a day was extremely important. I’ve continued to use that rule a lot, especially today with these 8 posts, but the rule has helped me to stick to this project more than anything else. If I ever felt like I failed for not writing one day, I doubt I would’ve come near to Day 10, let alone 100. It’s been incredible writing so much and seeing my posts get likes and my blog get follows from strangers. It serves as a great ego boost to receive likes, because I know at least one person has read what I’ve said. I want to say thank you to everyone that liked or followed or commented or reblogged any of my posts just because of how much it means to me.

I don’t know what the next steps are for my writing “career” but I do think this was an important part of it. I know I want to continue writing in any way possible, be it in my blog, or pieces on Medium, or maybe for my collegiate newspaper if possible. Whatever path I take, I want to become a better writer and continue to get better. I’m going to keep writing as much as possible and start reading as much as possible to do so. Writing may not be my intended career path, but it continues to be one of the most important things to me.

For now, I’m just happy to be done.

Day 99: The Future of this Blog

After this project, I really have no idea what I will do with this blog, or if I want to really keep using it. By housing this project, this blog has more of my writing than any other single resource that I have. Google Docs may come close, with every single draft of every single college essay I turned in or threw away, but this is still larger. I don’t want to get rid of this blog, but I wonder if I can really follow this project with anything worthwhile, writing-wise. In the tech industry, it is common convention for developers or engineers or just anyone to have a personal website with a blog. However, I don’t think I would want to use this one simply because I can’t change the domain name in an economical way, and would prefer to have something consistent.

Maybe I’ll convert it into a photoblog, like my friend Sahaana did with her namesake wordpress site. Another option is to continue to use the site as a place for my rough drafts of my posts to other sites. I did that for my analysis of “Death with Dignity” (final here). I do want to continue to write consistently, like a couple posts a week if possible. That would make it easier for me to write longer form pieces where I can really dig down into a topic. I skipped out on a few days of writing when I was working on my piece on millennials, so it would rock to have flexibility to do more things like that.

The nice thing about writing final drafts on a different platform like Medium is being able to have the piece as a part of a linked community that is made up of people who are in the industry that I’m looking into. By being able to write for them, I might be able to build some cool connections and maybe land some sort of writing gig. Who knows what I’ll do with this blog and with medium? I’ll just see what happens.

Day 98: Friendships

I’m an interesting sort of person when it comes to friendships. The people that I’d call my closest friends aren’t the ones I hang out with most. In fact, most of the people I hang out with are the ones that I barely consider friends. They’re more like acquaintances. No, for me, the closest friends are usually the ones I’ve gotten to know just through texts or some other form of electronic communication.

For some reason, it’s really easy for me to open up to others when I’m presenting the information in written electronic text. If I were born 10 years earlier than I was, it would be likely that I wouldn’t really have the same sorts of close friendships that I do. For example, a good friend of mine is someone that I barely talked to until she graduated from my high school and I have sustained consistent correspondence with her throughout her freshman year at college far away from where I am. This would’ve been impossible a few years ago, and yet now it’s so easy.

As I will soon start college, I know that it will be a million times easier to hang out with people and thus will probably actually hang out with close friends because of closer proximity and just a lot of factors that make it easier. I’m unsure of what collegiate friendships will be like for me, but from what I’ve heard and seen, the friends you make in college are some of the most important and best ones.

Day 97: Flying

I wanted to write at least one post during my flight, using some numbers from the flight data on the screen built into the chair in front of me to give some context to the craziness of flying, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I spent my time destroying all the high scores in the In-flight Trivia game and watching a majority of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or whatever the name of that excessively titled film is. The movie is great and I love Maggie Smith more than anything in the world, but that name is too much for me. The fact that the flight was too short for me to finish the movie is also too much for me.

Anyways, I wrote this small piece in a notebook like a year ago about how absurd the concept of flying in an airplane is if we really think about it. I think I lost the notebook, but I still think about the ideas behind that piece. The plane travels at 35,000 feet in the air, which is more than most people can run in several hours. It moves at 600 miles per hour, which is around 10 times as fast as most cars go on certain highways. The temperature and lack of oxygen outside of the plane could kill anyone very easily, yet everyone inside enjoys watching movies that were created from around the world that lies super far below them.

It just seems so absurd to me how calm the interior seems while the outside is such an inhospitable place. This absurdity underlies my love of airplanes. The farness from everything and disconnect from the traditional existence is so liberating and entertaining. For a few hours, you can’t be reached by anyone not on the plane (unless you pay an exorbitant rate for wifi) and you enjoy scenic views while moving rapidly across the world. Isn’t that just amazing?

Day 96: Photo Strategy

I got back today from my trip to New York City and of course, I took my camera. I wanted to capture all of the beauty that was the Big Apple and take as many pictures as possible. This resulted in hundreds of pictures over the first few days of the trip. As it wore on, I began to take fewer pictures and stop taking my camera everywhere I went. Today and the end of yesterday, I didn’t even take my camera out of my bag to upload my pictures.

I don’t want to say I’m getting burned out, but I do want to reevaluate my photo strategy. My current strategy consists of me finding a cool scene and taking a thousand pictures of it while walking and anxiously changing settings, focusing, and praying that one of the shots is good. More often than not, the shot isn’t good and I delete it. This strategy nets a lot of good pictures, but is super energy-intensive and tiring after a while, and I don’t feel like I learn a whole lot from it.

In particular, although I do get some good shots out of it, I don’t really get the types of shots that I want. I want to adopt a clean minimalist style to my photos, like the first two pictures in this post. In order to do so, I want to 1) travel with people who are okay with me stopping to take pictures, 2) find a way to carry my camera in a convenient way, and 3) take pictures in a slower, more deliberate way that will net better photos and make me think about what goes into each shot rather than just rapid firing like a goon. My current strategy doesn’t feel like art, but just capturing what I see.

Day 95: A Year Ago

A year ago today, I had just turned 17. Despite the fact that it really wasn’t that long ago, I don’t really remember it. A year ago, things were very different. I spent most of my days watching dumb videos on youtube and trying to learn something related to computer science while intermittently working on college application essays. I was distraught and sad a lot about a weird relationship situation. I was freaking out about senior year, graduation and the uncertainty of what college I would be going to. Most of my conversations with my classmates involved the phrases “holy crap, we’re seniors” or “we’re going to college next year omg” or “2015 always seemed so far away…”

Although a level of confusion still accompanies me concerning the future and going to college in the fall, I feel like I’m in a much better place than I was in a year ago. I’ve improved my writing skills, my communication skills, my confidence and control over my emotions, among other things.

I have no way to quantify it, but I’m certain that I’ve written more in the past year than I have in any other year of my life. With the amount of college essays and drafts I churned out in addition to this project, there is no way that isn’t true. Therefore, I know my writing skills have been improved. My communication skills have been improved by a series of college interviews, as well as talking more to adults, like the parent volunteers who would accompany me in the school attendance office while I served as an office aide. Competing in FBLA competitive events and serving as an officer have also contributed to this. My confidence has been built up, as I’ve had successes in FBLA and my other activities. My improved relationship with my girlfriend has helped with both my emotional control and confidence, as I’ve been able to learn about myself through her.

The point is that I am a different person today from the 17 year old Nikhil. I’ve gotten better and the 19 year old Nikhil will look back at 18 year old Nikhil and see another person. Hopefully these constant improvements will make me the best person I can be. I talked about a lot of stuff that I got better at to improve my life, but I want to be able to build characteristics to help others next.

Day 94: 100 (B-)Day

Today happens to be two very important days at once. First of all, today is the final day of #the100DayProject, which means I should have 100 posts done by the end of today. At this point, the chances of me achieving that goal are pretty slim but I’m going to try my best. Secondarily, today is my 18th birthday. The fact that both of these things fall on the same day is completely coincidental and I’m not really sure if it is accurate, considering how many times I’ve fallen behind, but I’m going to go with it.

I think it really just kinda works that they coincide. Before this challenge, I never felt I ever had a demonstration of any sort of discipline or dedication to something in a visible degree. By concluding this project on the day that I’m declared an adult, it’s almost like I’m starting this next chapter of my life with a bang. I start college in less than 3 weeks and can finally get a credit card and buy lottery tickets and vote and now, demonstrate a level of discipline that I always felt I lacked for a huge part of my life.

With every birthday, I always wondered if I would feel any different on that day. The more I think about it, I begin to realize that I shouldn’t focus on a sudden random noticeable change, but rather, try to compare myself from a year to year basis. I hope to get a general idea of who I am as a person each year and reflect on how I’ve improved since then. The long-term changes are harder to see, but the ones that are the most important.

Day 93: Behind

So, if you’ve been keeping track of this blog at all recently, you’d realize that I’m really behind. In fact, tomorrow is the 100th day of #the100DayProject and thus the end of the challenge. Therefore, I want to have written my 100th post by the end of the tomorrow. Today I’ll try to write just a fraction of these.

I’ve fallen behind for a number of reasons. First of all, I had my Chicago trip a few weeks ago, where I didn’t write any posts for about a week. That put me behind since I was busy exploring the city and taking pictures and doing FBLA stuff. I never really caught up after that but getting close. At one point, I was only one day behind my intended schedule. However, last week happened, which involved me having very little energy and desire to write whenever I came home and causing me to fall behind further. Since Thursday, I’ve been in New York City, and the walking on a daily basis has put me even further behind.

I really hope I can catch up, but my past history has shown me not really succeeding at doing that. I’ve never been this far before, and the last time I was anywhere close to this far behind was a few weeks and I never did get back on track. I’m going to have a few hours on the plane tomorrow, so I may go on a writing tear and just churn out a ton of content. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to the challenge.