A Chicken With His Head Cut Off

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Its been a full summer. I landed in the bay area somewhere at the end of May, and a week later started working at my summer job. Fast forward and its now one week till my Junior year of college. Wow, I can’t believe it. Its going to be my Junior year of college. It feels like yesterday it was my Junior year of high school, and man does time fly fast. Two years and, gulp, I have to be in the “real world” whatever that means.

Looking back, I feel like the last four years have been a blur. And, yet, I feel like it was a lot of me doing the things required of me. Junior year was about getting good grades. Senior year about college apps, and college was no different in the end. Everyone always told me: “Keep working hard, it will help set up your future,” and I was always left asking when does the future become the present? And the answer: It will come when it comes. So, I continued on with my life, always trying to make the “best” moves for what was to come in my life.

Last week, I went to a meditative session called an Awaken Wednesday. We all sat together in a circle and meditated for a whole hour straight. Have you ever sat still for an hour? I recommend you try it sometime. It will either feel like an eternity or you will feel incredibly refreshed. Or you may feel like it was both! The week itself was extremely stressful due to really non-significant things that were happening in my life, so when I went to the meditative experience, I started off in an extremely tired and stressed emotional setting.  20 minutes in, I couldn’t stand it any more. I was tired of sitting on the floor and thinking about nothing. Or rather attempting not to think. My restless mind awoke, and I forced it back to sleep. After the hour finished, my mind opened and all of a sudden the clouds were gone, my mind refreshed, and clarity began to appear. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of peace and silence in the middle of chaos to see the path forward.

After the meditation, a story was read to all of the people there. The story had this one line that seemed to epitomize my decision making choices: “running around like a chicken with his head cut off.” Now this isn’t the full line, but rather what I remember from that night looking back now. Oddly, it felt to me like the quote was speaking about my past few years. Instead of focusing on how to enjoy my college, enjoy my surroundings, spend time with the people around me, I had spent my previous years thinking about how to make the future look brighter. I had, like a chicken with his head cut off, attempted to improve something completely out of my control, and in the process had gone crazy doing all the little things that were “advisable” to do.

Now getting to my present, or rather the decision that acts as a “tipping point” of sorts. This summer I did another internship. Im not saying this to put it in a braggy sense, but more to give a context: I have been interning for 5 years now. Now, the internship wasn’t harmful or bad in its own right necessarily, but somehow it wasn’t as effective as perhaps I had desired, or maybe my mind was simply tired of absorbing learning in that manner. Somewhere in the vastness of those three and a half months I spent interning, my mind just began to reject the idea of doing more work that it had now deemed pointless, not necessarily because it truly was, but because it somehow dropped out of my priority list. And since then, it became a more and more painful activity to go to work.

That quote made me realize something. I had been doing these internships originally because they were a great way to learn industry practices and standards from people actually in the work force. Eventually, they became just another tick mark that had to be checked to show that you were a top student. Maybe thats where it began to go wrong. Perhaps, I needed to return to finding ways of gaining new experiences and learning opportunities rather than participate in the rat race. So, with that, I think it is time I find a new type of internship.

Taking into account those collective experiences, I think I might try doing a research internship, participating with MIT media labs, or if I am extremely lucky IDEO. Maybe my pathway has a summer of fun planned for next summer instead. Whatever it may hold, I guarantee my summer won’t involve another computer science job behind a desk. Its time I walked around a little more.

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