Who I am and Why I’m here

As a part of WordPress’s very own Blogging 101 class, our first task is to write an introductory post. Despite the fact that I’ve been blogging for a while, I feel that it’s important for me to get involved with this class in order to motivate myself to write more and achieve my goal of writing more posts than I did last year. I’ve recently been feeling lost since I haven’t been writing as much as I used to, so hopefully this will help to ground me.

My name is Nikhil Sethi and I’m a first-year CS major at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I love to write, take pictures, read and think. I want to return to blogging instead of just sticking to my journal, since blogs allow me to have a more concrete focus on a specific topic. My journal entries are filled with tons of different ideas, a true contrast to my blog posts which tend to focus on a particular idea I’m grappling with and just wanna write out about.

I will probably just talk about whatever topics enter my life, especially related to the future and life in college, since I’m still getting used to that. I also foresee a great amount of content related to Stoicism and Art, since those are some of my current obsessions right now. I just want to connect with anyone through my work. I have this belief that art has an incredible power to connect people and I’m sure that anyone who has my writing resonate with them can benefit from it and helps to confirm my ideas that writing publicly is worth something. I’ll detail my philosophy about art in another post, but it relates to this idea heavily.

If I continue to blog throughout the year, I hope to continue to progress as a writer and gain a greater readership. I have a few followers on this blog, but I would love to interact with the people who read my posts a little more, since they seem to have something in common with me or have ideas similar to my own.

What do I want to do?

I think the reason that college is really tough for me at times is because I want to have clear priorities and completely dedicate myself to one thing or another. The only problem is that there are too many things that I want to do. In a given day, I’m worrying about school, writing, photography, singing, spirituality, friendships and many more things that I can’t even think of right now. I keep reading articles about self-help in hopes that will give me the answers to all of my questions, but there’s not a single article that will save me, but the underlying message in all of them is to focus one specific thing if you want to get good at it.

The thing is, I can’t drop all of these things. Each things is fairly important, and I don’t want to let it go. I might try to do a timelog this week to see where all of my time goes and really get a better idea of what I can do to improve my general use of time. All I know is that I feel the best when I get a lot done, but when I feel shitty it’s because I can’t get a lot done and that same feeling keeps me from getting things done. It’s a vicious cycle.

I can get through this.

Equilibrium

Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve moved to an overall better place mentally. My resting state has less anxiety, less sadness and less frustration. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve been this good in a long time.

Despite this, I know that this isn’t the best state I can be. My emotions are still incredibly volatile. In the span of a few hours, I can go from feeling like I’m on the top of the world, sauntering along to the drumbeats of a joyous Jack Johnson to feeling anxious and hiding under my covers listening to Drake. Of course, the best part of my new state is that this happens less than before, but I just wish I could minimize it further.

In discussion yesterday with my religious group, we got onto the topic of how it may be better to find an equilibrium, and instead of getting too attached to the highs and lows, to focus on an equilibrium of the two and try to stay balanced. That way, it won’t hurt when we fall as much. I’m torn by this concept.

On one hand, this level of equilibrium in my emotions sounds like it would help me to leave myself and become more associated with a higher power as I detach myself from the world. On the other hand, detachment has always been one of the concepts of spirituality that I’ve struggled with. I’ve been a huge advocate of melancholy and sadness in the past because I fell in love with it and the depth and vibrancy of the emotions, especially when they helped me to connect with art. I don’t know if I can completely abandon that part of me that loves to feel so strongly. If we are meant to detach ourselves from everything, why do strong emotions feel so right? Why does sobbing in my bed over breakup feel so real compared to emotionlessness in the face of a small loss?

Create Something Every Day

For the past few days, I’ve been involved in one of the least entertaining activities in the world, one that never seems to end and consumes your very existence, bringing inconvenience to every facet of your life. Yup, I’m talking about moving. I’m definitely not being melodramatic when I say that moving from an apartment into a new house is one of the most frustrating things to ever happen to me.

In reality, this isn’t that big of a deal, but it has caused me to become extremely restless. It’s not because of the inconvenience of manual labor or sleeping on the floor or having to eat ice cream with a fork since all the spoons are at the house and not the apartment. All of those things are fine and can easily be overcome. What’s been irking me about the whole thing is my difficulty in creating anything. I’ve failed to complete several blog posts due to my brain not working properly, I’ve been unable to continue learning how to draw due tot the lack of tables, I’ve been unable to make my small Flask have any functionality due to my incompetence and, worst of all, I’ve been unable to wear any clothes that weren’t sweatpants and a sweatshirt due to having to move things.

My mind is so used to doing anything productive that going several days without doing anything that really uses my brain has left me feeling terrible about myself. Sure, moving boxes and carrying heavy stuff is productive in a way, but it fails to satisfy me in any way. Because of the mental unrest, I’ve been feeling terrible about myself and just have struggled to stay positive in the recent days. I had never realized how much creating things, be it CS homework or blog posts, has such a positive impact on my life and the lack of it can have such a negative impact. When I read this article about the health benefits of art, it all made sense.

As the year comes to a close, I’ve decided that one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to create something every day. I don’t mean I need to write a 500 word blog post or draw an amazing portrait or design something really cool. No, that’s nearly impossible. At the very least, I want to be make anything that leaves a unique impact on the world, however small. This could be a small drawing of a potato on the side of my homework if I’m feeling lame or an awesome photo or even just a bombass photo.

I needed to write this post in order to create something after all of these days. Now, it also serves to keep me accountable in terms of what I want to do in the future. It’s a New Year’s Resolution, so therefore the odds are already against me, but even the intention to create more is better than what I’m doing right now.

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 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.