I initially thought that I’d do my next post on my first week at the University of Waterloo where I’m doing a masters in pure math and my experience of it thus far, but I thought of something else instead, which is an extension of my philosophy posts. Besides, given that classes haven’t started yet, it would probably better to wait a few days before I report how I like Waterloo (I am managing fine if you are curious). Also, given that school is starting up again, I may not be able to post as often as I did during the summer. I will, however, try to get in a post every two weeks if not every week (depending on how inspired I feel and if I have a lot to report, particularly on my Waterloo experience).
The perspective that I want to share today extends off of my idea of the importance of personal self-satisfaction in one’s life. I’ve already said in my previous posts of how much I’m solely relying on personal self-satisfaction to the things I do in my life and how “external” rewards (praise or rewards from other people) for a job well done are not nearly as important to me. This attitude
has brought on a whole new outlook to my life.
One way is that the various dramas that have played out in my life that have taught me many things I view as my Life Courses. I call them ‘Courses’ because I believe that the knowledge and experience gained through such dramas aren’t really inferior to the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through ‘official courses’ i.e. University courses or more generally school courses. Even though my transcripts and resumes show that I have a solid undergraduate background in mathematics and philosophy, as well as a few other courses in physics, English, and computer science, I have also taken various other courses during the time I took these ‘official’ courses. I took courses in (and am still taking courses in) Loneliness Management and How to Make Friends, Perfectionism Management, and Coping with Changes in Passions. And the list doesn’t stop here either. I’ve also taken How to Date, How to Manage Fear and Anxiety, as well as everyone’s favourite How to Not Procrastinate. I’ve also taken a lot of ‘courses’ in the writing of fiction!
You might think I’m being cute in looking at my experiences this way. Certainly if I’m going to look at my life this way, these Life Courses aren’t exactly the same as ‘official’ school courses. For one thing we have little choice in a lot of these courses. A lot of them just come into our lives. Besides, we don’t even know all the courses we are taking at any one time. I’m probably taking a lot of ‘courses’ right now that I don’t even know I’m in. I had very little idea that I was in a course on Perfectionism Management until I entered university. The other thing that separates these Life Courses from ‘official’ courses is that they come with no grades. Unless you’re stubborn enough not to do so, you will learn something out of each Life Course. But if you don’t from a particular ‘course’, than that ‘course’ will force itself upon you again much like how you have to retake a school course again if you fail at it the first time. Other than this, however, you can’t really give a grade to a Life Course.
But here’s why I call such experiences ‘courses’. I call them ‘courses’ because I feel like I’m not doing justice to them in simply calling them ‘life experiences’. Let me explain. We have words like ‘normal’, ‘abnormal’, ‘official’, ‘unofficial’, ‘job’, ‘hobby’, ‘course’, and ‘life experience’ for denoting how important something is in our lives and whether it’s appropriate to denote an activity with a certain measure of importance. After being associated with the English language for over two decades, I’ve felt the implication behind using certain words. When I say, write, or think of the word ‘hobby’, I can’t help thinking that it represents something inferior to something that represents the word ‘job’. Now we all know that having a job is much more important for survival purposes than merely having a hobby, but I’ve gotten so used to using both words for their respective definitions, that I would be uncomfortable if they swapped definitions (would you?).
This is why I often don’t like the word ‘hobby’ to be applied to my fiction writing passion. Since I ‘feel’ the inferiority of using the word ‘hobby’ to describe this huge passion of mine, I feel like I’m not doing complete justice to it by calling it so. How successful I am with it is irrelevant since personal self-satisfaction is good enough for me. Besides if I continuously thought of my fiction writing passion as simply a hobby anyway, the majority of the time I’d spend writing would simply be cut out because I feel less drive to work hard at something I feel is ‘inferior’ to a job.
Ditto for my life experiences in general. They’re my Life Courses. Calling them such is my method for accepting them as they come into my life even if how I learn them isn’t all that pretty. Calling them ‘Courses’ reminds me how important they are.
You may disagree on my word choice ‘Course’ for life experience because I do realise that not everyone likes school as much as I do. You might feel that ‘Course’ makes it too official sounding or reminds you of a lot of bad experiences you may have had at school. That’s fine. You can still apply this technique by thinking of a different word or phrase to describe it just as long as that word or phrase has a feel of importance about it at least for you.
But if we can ignore semantics for a moment what Life Courses have you taken?