I came to the University of Washington with something to prove; If you give me an inch, I’ll take the mile I deserve.
Arrogant? Perhaps a little. Spiteful? Most definitely.
So, when I came ready to fight, I didn’t expect things to be so… easy?
I don’t mean academically, although I can’t say that’s particularly challenged me so far. I credit that more so to the fact that I’ve taken college courses that push the limits of what is reasonable to ask of a student already rather than any softness of UW. It takes a little bit more than a healthy serving of rigor to throw me off at this point.
Rather, when, quite directly contrary to the very pointed recommendations of the CS department to not come here to study CS and the worst picture of a university as portrayed by the anecdotes of students second only to UCSD, I decided to attend anyways, I found quite a bit of support both from students and CS faculty and staff. It was disarming to find that on the inside few questions were asked, not because I had already been fated to the second-class, but because it was assumed only natural that things should work out eventually.
Speaking of things working out eventually, I went to see Dekoboko Taiko this past weekend. I don’t know how often to expect them to be playing, considering this was their first concert 2 years in the making, but if you get the chance, I highly recommend going to see them. I found their performance quite moving, if only because I could see the color that they had absorbed during their time as part of UW’s Taiko Kai. It made the prospect of playing with them in the future shift from seeming possible to seeming probable, which isn’t much to me on its own merit (At the end of the day, I don’t see beating on drums being too much of a lifestyle for me), but promises incredible opportunity in terms of international involvement and future connections in Japan, something which I place great value in.
This change in thinking was part of a bigger paradigm shift. It came on rather unexpectedly, all within the span of the hour it took to get from the concert to dinner, but, from seemingly nowhere (or perhaps, if I dare say, from a grasping touch of 侘び寂び), I became inspired with a sense of spontaneity and freedom. I surmised that feelings of inadequacy and being spread too thin were brought on more so by my unreasonable expectations for my path at the UW than any tangible thing. I realized that by focusing all my energy in predicting what obstacles might lie in my path in the future that I was over-constraining my vision of what I could do at UW, and that in doing so I was suppressing motivations that I had just a year prior to pursue things like music, art, and Japanese language. Before this change I would have considered UW as a sort of constant that needed to be contended with. Now, it feels more like the transient state of a free variable who belongs to the predicate which is my own agency’s will, which is to say in obtuse analogy to formal logic that UW can be more of a tool than a trial to my ends if I let it be.
Key to coming to this feeling is an acceptance of outcome. Not necessarily coming to peace with failure, however I may continue to define that in this new ideal, but at least being accepting of outcome. I think it’s much healthier to view every venture from the perspective of it being an inquiry into what may lay in store for me, rather than an expecting request, which may be disappointed.
Getting over this shift was a roadblock that I expected to take much longer than a quarter to attack. I thought it might even be impenetrable until I was at least in my major. It’s very promising that, even if it’s suspiciously sudden and fragile, some relief presents itself early.
I’ve often struggled to really be able to put into words what is so critically important to me during my time at UW. There’s something foundational that has previously evaded, and with this, I think I found it:
This me that I’ve briefly become again recently, who is one who gets up in the morning not because he fears what will happen if he doesn’t but because he doesn’t fear what will happen if he does, is really a better person than I am.
My goal at the end of these years is to no longer need to fear that this person might die.