Sometimes

Sometimes I really wish I could have a mentor. And yes, if you are thinking of a wise Buddhist middle-aged man, that’s exactly who I’m thinking of too.

On a serious note, it wouldn’t really matter what form my mentor would appear in. All I need is a wise individual who knows how to keep secrets. I would tell them all about my life, my goals, my problems, and they would use all of their wisdom and experience to help me do amazing things. Someone who would keep me motivated no matter what, tell me that everything will be okay and remind me to get my shit together when necessary. Someone who would remind me about all my responsibilities, but in a way that would be encouraging and not stressful at all. Someone who has been a mentor for months, and years and decades prior to meeting me, and would already know everything there is to know about helping people to focus on what they want and what they need to fix.

I know it seems fantastical, yet a person can dream. Think about it. Wouldn’t you prefer to have someone like that in your life? We’re all encouraged to be our own mentors, yet it gets so tedious that we start to go easy on ourselves in the most detrimental way possible. And when we do get our shit together, so to speak, we find ourselves in a bubble of stress and last-minute panic. I don’t know what the moral of this post is, but I’ll probably finalize it on the following note: if you are not lucky enough to have a mentor, try to be your own mentor (I guess). Imagine that you are two people instead of one, and encourage yourself as you would have liked to be encouraged by somebody else.

Damn it, can I at least have a mentor until 2018?

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I Know That I Don’t

Most people come to a point in their lives where they are no longer sure of who they are, what they want and what the future holds. I like to refer to it as the 20-something crisis; a more optimistic version of the mid-life crisis, during which people seem to forget “how to life” for a period of time. In spite of the fact that being unsure is a perfectly natural state of mind, our society is very unforgiving towards those who express reasonable doubt.

Not knowing what to do is somehow unacceptable in the 21st century. I mean, how can one NOT KNOW what they are striving towards? So many resources! So much support! So much good (although standardized) education! So when successful stockbroker Jordan’s teenage daughter comes home from school one day and says “Dad, I’m not sure what I want to study at college”, it is likely that she will receive the following answer: “Don’t be silly honey, you’ve always wanted to study finance!” (cheers to anyone who got the reference)

However, doubting earlier ideas is definitely not silly – it’s a sign of a healthy rational thought process. The problem lies in how we see the concept of knowledge itself, and how that affects the way in which we perceive the sentence “I don’t know”. Theoretically, knowledge is a very factual concept, based on information which can be tested for validity. We know that the earth revolves around the sun; that a year has 365 days; that plants photosynthesize and so on. So when we are unaware of certain facts, we perceive it as a gap in our knowledge.

But here’s the problem – not all knowledge is factual and unchanging (not to mention that “facts” often change throughout the years themselves). So what we think we “know” concerning who we are, what we want and what the future holds is, in fact, a vague idea. It’s okay to “not know”, because you never really knew in the first place anyway.

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Taking the Red Pill: From “The Matrix” to Politics

If you’ve ever seen the 1999 science-fiction classic “The Matrix”, or have simply been keeping up with certain socio-political events, it is likely that you will be familiar with the red pill/blue pill analogy. However, to those of you who are unaware, let me briefly explain:

The whole concept of these two pills – and no, we are not talking about recreational drugs – is that it’s a metaphor for truth. The idea was first explored “The Matrix”, where the protagonist is offered to take a blue pill and wake up believing whatever he wants, or take a red pill and be exposed to the truth (no matter how unpleasant it may be). A peculiar but somewhat useful analogy, which is currently being considered from a political point of view. A lot of the time, people refuse to explore ideas outside of their comfort zone, thinking that their beliefs are the only ones worth listening to. It doesn’t matter if the opposing party brings rational, valid arguments – in most cases, the red pill will always be discarded for the blue.

Speaking from a political standpoint, it is no secret that there has always been a major divide between the left (liberals) and the right (conservatives). As of now, this division is perfectly reflected by the current state of America. Now, if you are a US citizen, please don’t be insulted and automatically assume that I am bashing your country; it was just a very tempting example, since things are evidently messed up at the moment. Ever since Trump came to power (and before that too, come to think of it), there has been an open conflict between the two sides. Liberals are often referred to as “Social Justice Warriors” and “Snowflakes” by the right, whilst they themselves refer to the right as “Nazis” or “White Supremacists”. And with the popularity of the internet, disagreements like this are much more intense.

Since a significant number of the younger generation (i.e. everyone under 30) seems to lean more towards the left, the internet – especially websites like Tumblr and YouTube – have always been populated by liberals. However, at some point, they ended up going overboard, giving birth to the Buzzfeed generation. Suddenly, left-wing politics stopped being about tolerance and acceptance, and became a frighteningly radicalized form of liberalism; people began screaming “oppression” at every corner, privilege became a crime and anyone who disagreed with them was either racist, sexist, trans-phobic, Islamophobic or trying to harass them. This angered conservatives, who turned to the opposite extreme and started a trend of “Anti-SJW” channels, some of which include Andy Warski, Bearing, Hunter Avallone and many more.

Initially, the main motive of these channels was to show how brainwashed these extreme liberals are, and point out flaws in their arguments. However, instead of encouraging an intellectual debate, the two sides ended up being at war. There was no dialogue between the two political and social spectrums, and almost no middle-ground – you were either on the left or on the right; either worshiping Trump or hating his guts.

Nonetheless, there has been some progress recently in terms of encouraging dialogue. I would like to bring the example of Laci Green, who was – up until now – a complete Social Justice Warrior meme (not offending her, she said so herself). However, Laci had a change of heart, and decided to reach out to some conservative content creators and discuss their points of view. Here’s what she had to say:

Personally, I neither like nor dislike her. I found some of her content educational, but most of it was somewhat annoying. However, after this video, I gained some respect for Laci.

I guess you could say that I am one of the rare cases that are neither on one end of the spectrum or the other. I like to stay as informed as possible, choosing the most logical argument instead of the one that best corresponds to my beliefs. This whole conflict really got me thinking about how we, as a society, should learn how to communicate with people that hold opposing viewpoints to ours. Although we may have some strong beliefs on certain controversial topics, in doesn’t make them the only valid ones. Also, it doesn’t automatically mean that anyone who disagrees with us is fundamentally wrong – it just shows a clash of ideas.

Going back to my initial metaphor, everyone has a choice. One can either go through life taking the blue pill, staying oblivious to the fact that other opposing viewpoints can also be rational, or take the red pill and acknowledge the validity of some of those viewpoints. Once again, it’s an individual choice, but the second option promises a better life and – on a grander scale – a more stable political climate.

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