How I write my blog

First, I read a lot. Without interesting ideas written by others I would have no interesting ideas myself. My subconscious takes it all in and does the work of spitting out new ideas.

Second, I have a blog. Without a blog, and a commitment to writing on it daily, I would not come up with any ideas to write about. I called it The Daily Dose of Ryan, in part, because I knew the name would hold me accountable to the daily practice.

Third, because I know I have to write daily, ideas come to me; I do not go looking for them. For instance, in the midst of writing a different post, the words “How I write this blog” popped into my head, so I started writing this instead. Ideas can pop into your head at any moment if you’re receptive to them and take them seriously. If they scare you, all the better.

Fourth, I write. I do not worry about the quality of the writing the first time through; I just write what I think. The words come to me as my fingers move across the keyboard. I rarely do any research for a blog post. If I find that I need to do research it’s probably because I don’t understand my topic well enough, so I scrap the post.

Fifth, I rewrite. I ask myself if each word, comma, and semicolon is necessary for the post to be understood, and I use as few characters as necessary to make my point. I look at the structure of each sentence and ask myself if that’s the best way for it to be understood. I do not worry if a typo gets through, because I am not writing for a newspaper or publishing a book.

Sixth, I judge the audience’s reaction. Did anyone tell me they liked that post? Did a post solve a problem for someone? Finding what resonates with the audience helps me write better posts in the future. For instance, athletes were asking me about my writing process the other day, so my subconscious spit this out. I don’t worry much if someone complains about what I write–unless I find I was wrong, in which case I apologize–because it’s usually the case that I wasn’t writing for the complainer in the first place. And anyhow, the search for Truth always causes controversy, so sometimes I take complaints to be compliments in disguise.

That’s it. I did not take a class in writing or digital media. I just started doing it, and got better over the course of a decade.

Two numbers every college student should know

1) How much debt will you have after your graduate?

Because you’ll be paying $100 per month for ten years for every $10,000 you accumulate.

2) How many credits do you need to graduate?

Because time spent in college is expensive, not only from the direct cost, but from the opportunity cost of not earning money for four years. That early money, invested in the stock market, is a powerful force for future earning potential, so there’s no use spending more time in college than you need to.

Entering The Portal

I once had a conversation with a senior, right after his summer internship. He’d been offered a job by the company, in a good location with a nice salary, but as he told me about it the tone of his voice didn’t match the excitement of the offer–it was as if he were reciting items on a grocery shopping list. I asked him why he didn’t sound enthused:

“It’s just, I look at the number of years people have worked there: thirty years, forty years, and I think, ‘Is this what the rest of my life’s going to be?'” Then he listed all the good things about working for the company, as if to convince himself he really wanted the job.

We hold an archetypal story in our hearts that Eric Weinstein calls “The Portal Story”. It’s a call to adventure, an invitation to something new, scary, and exciting. There are portals everywhere if you know where to look. In fact, there’s one next to you right now.

Language can’t describe what or where The Portal is, but stories can. Your parents don’t want you to find portals because they’re dangerous; your parents want you safe. It’s why stories so often feature a young person whos parents have died:

The struggling freshman

I get concerned when I find a freshman who isn’t struggling with the transition to college; too much comfort is not good for the human psyche. I also get concerned when a freshman struggles too much, for obvious reasons.

But there is, what I’ll call, a “Sweet Spot of Struggle”, in which you’re in an ongoing state of confusion, discomfort, even pain, as you become a new, better, more independent person. It is a common reason for tears and calls to mom, but it is the only way forward, and it will pass in time if you stay with it.

These are the first steps toward freedom, and pursuing freedom has always been a painful process.

Poked where it hurts

I have a colleague-friend in her sixties, and whenever we spend time together she pokes me right where it hurts. I’m never quite sure where it hurts until I see her.

“Ryan, you really ought to be better at xxxx by now.”

“Ryan, you’re not going to be a real adult until you do xxxx.” And so on.

A generous professor or coach will poke you where it most hurts, gently at first, getting incrementally harder as needed.

It’s just like how you got made fun of in middle school, but with a sense of compassion:

The moment after you fail

There is no more failure; there is only the next moment, and the next, just a conscious being, experiencing.

There will be thoughts, stories, and feelings in your body associated with the failure. It’s important to note that they are not “you” in any real sense, but partners trying to help you sort through what happened and do better next time. Humans have evolved to experience guilt and shame when they perceive themselves to have violated group norms. In this respect, experiences associated with failure are healthy; they just want to be heard.

But they need not last: with training, you can notice the failure has ended, replaced with another moment in which you experience the cascade of guilt and shame. You can feel those sensations fully and let them pass, much as a rain cloud passes through the sky. The experience can last for seconds, minutes, or hours, instead of days, weeks, or months.

You’re liable to label yourself a “failure” if you don’t notice this process happening, even though the failure ended a long, long time ago.

Hookup culture

Hookup culture is great in some sense: we no longer need to feel ashamed for sexual encounters which were once a devastating reputational blow. The stigma could be so bad that families were ruined over it.

But hookups are not good when the meaning is ambiguous: one person can perceive it to be significant, while the other thinks it meaningless. During sex, a flood of hormones are released related to emotional attachment, and someone can get attached to another who cares nothing for her. If we take sex to be an act that brings a couple closer together, then this can indeed be a dangerous occasion.

It could be worth the question: “Hey: What is it, exactly, that we’re doing here?”

The faults and virtues of others

Make a list of the faults you notice in others and you’re likely pointing to the very characteristics you’re afraid of.

Then, make a list of the virtues you notice in others, and you’re likely pointing to characteristics you want to develop yourself.

We exist, noticing in others the very logs in our eyes.