And we’re off! This spring break, I traveled through Norway and Sweden with my college friends. We procured very cheap flights ($350 round-trip) by booking well in advance (6 months), but whatever was spared in the flight price was consumed in food costs. The cost-of-living here is no joke…
After a long journey of delayed flights and travel complications (5/8 of our group was stuck in the US with ticket booking issues thanks to Priceline), I made it to Flam with my friends Abhi and Luke. We drove 5.5 hours out to Flåm, a village in southwestern Norway. As exhausted as I was, I kept staring out the window excitedly…gazing out towards the landscape, I thought it understandable that Norwegians are some of the happiest people on the planet. To be so close and deeply connected to nature, the mountains, the fjords–it must be a panacea soul. 2 hours out from the airport, the scenery changed drastically. I felt like I had been dropped into another world of endless snow and unknown space. As the night wore on, it seemed as though we were driving into a void of darkness…
day 1 in Flam: took a train up the mountain and back down in the morning. We embarked on a snowshoe hike with the reward of a clear view of Aurlandsfjord in the afternoon. I certainly understand why Norwegians have such mythical tales that are inextricably threaded with the touch of nature. Deep in this pocket of Norway is another world…a land for giants…
All throughout Scandinavia, I saw this motif of the troll. Souvenir shops carried a wide array of troll figurines. After getting past my initial doubt (I wouldn’t exactly call the trolls “elegant” or “beautiful”), I found these troll trinkets to be rather cute…back in the day, the vikings explained natural phenomena as simply the work of the trolls. “And if you look hard enough, sometimes you can see a troll’s face or footprint carved into the side of the mountain” (our guide)
In Danish, the word “hygge” conveys the sense of quaint coziness. It is a word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. I couldn’t help but think of this word as we walked by all these simple, geometric houses with slightly bright/muted-colored houses. I admire this value of slow living and being fully present. I wonder what the bleak, harsh winters are like. People who live here must do what they can to deeply appreciate the day-to-day and maintain faith that the darkness/coldness will part eventually.
On the drive down from the mountain we hiked, our guide explained an intriguing aspect of Norwegian culture. There is this concept called “janteloven” (or the Law of Jante) which dictates how people view personal achievement. The Law of Jante criticizes individual success. If you are exceptionally skilled, you are not to believe you are above others or anything special.
I was so curious about this concept that I googled it after getting back home. Interestingly, this prevalent mindset throughout Norway stifles start-up culture. But the Law of Jante lines up well with my own beliefs: the importance of humility and hard work. I can’t imagine a collective, like-minded set of people that all operate on this value.
Takke, Flåm for making me wonder what other magical locales like this are out there…the world is big.
Hello my name is Annie Su, and this is what I used to do 5 years ago. I had a phase where I was completely enamored with the concept of self-portraits and levitation photos. Looking back, it seems sort of silly: I would set the timer on my mom’s oversized DSLR and hastily run to a spot and pose. Back and forth. Running here and there, stomping through the grass, and chasing fleeting sunlight at 7pm. I kind of miss these days when I would take on weird projects and whims like this. Whatever my mind was set on, I’d follow through. I used to sew these small animals and squishy pillows in my free time after taking Home Ec in middle school. Maybe I could have been a master sewer by now…
Anyways here’s a throwback to me and my golden days of childish fun + narcissism.
Good night! It is currently 12:31am, and I’m writing from a tranquil, well-lit study space far from home [present]. There’s a strange feeling of satisfaction and secrecy in writing a blog post in such a serious, formal setting, like my own small secret. Only 4 more days until spring break–I’ll be traveling to Norway and Sweden with some friends from college [future]
These past few weeks have been filled with procrastinating late into the night, stealing bits of time to read whenever I can, and lying in bed when I feel like I don’t want to actively participate in the real world. I’ve discovered the magic of carrying books on me wherever I go. Surprisingly, I have many pockets of time each day that I would normally squander. I’ve been trying fill that liminal time with books–interesting passages and enticing stories [past].
I don’t have the mental/artistic/creative capacity currently to weave in gracefully all the corners of experiences that I’ve really cherished these past few weeks into a Cool Story or Beautiful Paragraph, so I will just dump the jumbled noodles of thoughts I’ve collected these past few weeks:
- REMOVE THE ARROW if you are shot—not just wonder why you were shot. -RELS 173
- “You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them. And when that happens, reading those writers … becomes a source of unbelievable joy. It’s like eating candy for the soul.” -DFW
- I realize everything Naval Ravikant said that resonated with me was tied to Buddhist doctrines.
- “The coded structure of push notifications makes it harder to prioritize a value of personal focus; the coded structure of likes makes it harder to prioritize not relying on others’ opinions; and similar structures interfere with other values, like being honest or kind to people, being thoughtful, etc.” (from a medium article for which I cannot find the link) // thinking lately about the way I use my phone and how I can derive meaningful ‘time well spent’ as opposed to letting my phone become a vaPid vOrteX
- recent read, rated 5/5: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
- “People who are not well-differentiated tend to be quick to react, becoming so flooded with emotion they have to run away from a situation or suppress important parts of themselves in order to keep the peace.” -from a NYT article, “How to Stop Rushing Into Love” // I don’t think I’m well-differentiated
- “In an essential caveat that teases out the nuance of her point, Riding notes that rather than selfishness or narcissism, such thinking about oneself is the only way to conceive of one’s place within a larger world and therefore to think of the world itself. ” –Brainpickings on Laura Rider‘s letters to a young girl on being herself // I think this bridges the gap between the polarizing selflessness spelled out in Buddhist doctrines and the need for some sense of self to exist in the physical world
- the sudden realization that I’ve forgotten how to simply walk. I’m perpetually rushing to a class that I’m late for, or seized by a sense of time running out.
I’m still trying to uphold my statement that I’d try to post here once a week. But lately, I don’t have much to write about.
I’m not thinking too deeply about many things. I’m not actively living. I’m not seeking out new experiences or trying to fill my time in a meaningful way. I’m just living, passively.
When I started this blog, I was excited at the prospect of putting teenage-angsty, profound-sounding thoughts out on the Interwebs and talking about strange, abstract thoughts and observations I make as I go through my day-to-day existence. But I have this fear (and have thought this before in high school as well) that my mind is blank. It’s vanilla. I don’t really think much or deeply or actively at all. And I don’t have any opinions, strong convictions, genuine passions, or those human markers that we use to differentiate ourselves from others. Thinking back to interviews when I was asked “So tell me about yourself…” I always froze at that question, no matter how many times I had vied with this already. I don’t know myself; my mind is a blank slate. If I feel so depersonalized, how do I go about describing who I am? My own sense of identity is so foggy and unclear to me.
I’ve been having more spells of anxiety. Sometimes I feel so worried about x, y, z that I feel like I mentally can’t breathe. In some moments, I felt so low as a human being. I felt like shit and deemed myself worthless. I regretted my actions. I hated my stupidity. I hated school. I hated my apathy towards everything that I do. I hated my inability to feel, to connect. Why is it all coming back??? I hope I’m strong enough to not lose myself again.
I started feeling this way again today, and I immediately thought,”nope nope nope,” and forced myself to go outside and walk into the city. It’s raining outside, and I remember a friend saying,”Rain makes everything better–it’s like all the raindrops are clapping and rooting for you.”
So I guess this is why I haven’t felt like writing much. I just want to lie in bed and be unconscious of the world and my own existence.
Oh also, happy Valentine’s Day! [post restored February 27, 2018 : originally trashed because the author was afraid of seeming too forward, dramatic, and neurotic to her internet readers]
I shut myself in the fine arts hall for 10 hours today to render a turn table for my 3d models (by the way, I fucked up on my renders, and I have to start over). By the time I realized I had worked through dinner, I left the building and found myself in some psycho dystopia where people scream down the streets, blare their horns relentlessly, and do stupid things like throw traffic cylinders at passing cars. In other words, the Eagles won the Super Bowl…cue mass migration of sports fanatics into Center City and ensuing chaos. To be honest, I was really freaked out and felt like a character in some Mr. Robot episode where all the anarchists wore scary masks and rioted down the streets of New York…sort of dramatic of me, I know. I don’t understand why people flip cars over in the face of victory. I feel like if I had such an investment in some team that won, I’d be so happy that I’d saunter down the streets and bless all the vehicles stationed at the curbs.
Anyways, I want to talk about self-consciousness.
The reason I don’t tell people that I have a blog is because I write embarrassing, strange things on here and take self-indulgent pictures of myself. But most importantly, if I were aware that I had a large, familiar readership, I’d surely self-consciously (or subconsciously) express myself in a different way. This breath down my back would ruin the honesty and clearheadedness with which I try to write–at least in the way I talk about my feelings and thoughts. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate the people who stop by and take the time to read through my ramblings and scroll past oversized iPhone images.
This has been a motif throughout my life. I can’t exist with this feeling of ‘suffocation.’ I need 1000 miles of distance between myself and the real world to feel fully free and functional. This is probably bad. I go to a college for extroverts and am surrounded by young, energetic students every waking second. I will eventually go on to work in a company where I have to make small talk with co-workers on a daily basis. I am a part of a society that values extroversion and communication. That also makes logical sense. How’s anybody supposed to understand you or your messages/intents if you can’t speak about them effectively? How are you supposed to meet kindred spirits if you don’t at least participate in the game of life a little bit?
This is part of why I quit social media last year. I had this superfluous fear of being too “weird” in my thoughts of photo albums or square-cropped Instagram photos. I felt self-conscious and out of place. In my darkest times, being on social media only exacerbated my feelings of otherness. I hated seeing people smile and enjoying life. Wow that sounds incredibly petty and childish…to rephrase, the pictures of people with genuine smiles and happy moments felt like shards to my heart. I felt so distant from those sentiments and experiences…seeing these things only made me feel more disoriented, disconnected, and discontent. This isn’t the fault of others of social media (at least not entirely). It was more a function of where I, Annie Su, personally was, mentally, as a human being. But now, I am more ambivalent. I like to look back on the digital archives of my life, but I don’t like the idea of being encapsulated by maybe 500 images. I’d hope there’s more to me than that…
These paragraphs don’t logically connect all too much. My TA for my religious studies class would give me a B on this blog post…
Before this blog, I cycled through 4 tumblr’s. I was rereading all the weird posts I wrote…nothing was held back because I never advertised my URL. Just a thought.
Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.”Czesław Miłosz, from “Notes”
^ that was my favorite quote for so long.
oh man, ok I really have to sleep. Fuck, it’s so late.
Hello we are 3 weeks into the school semester, and I already feel burnt out like a charred piece of salmon left for too long on the grill! Great! I can’t wait to get to the point when I’m old enough to look back on my anxious little worrying self and wax words of wisdom when asked the question,”What advice would you give to your younger self?” I’d respond,”I wish that I didn’t stress so much about the future and the myriad of uncertainties that cloud life. In the end, everything turns out ok.” I am 99% sure this is what future me would say to current me (yes I’m clairvoyant). And even in anticipation of this insight, I can’t not be worried. How can I not be worried? Nothing is certain! Nothing is constant! Stress is built into my personality. I operate day-to-day with high cortisol levels and a paralyzing fear of the future. These have become constants in my life. My name might as well be Annie Worried Su.
I’m afraid to say “I can’t wait for this semester to be over” because I know it will be filled with meaningful moments, but honestly, right now, I can’t wait for this semester to be over.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my sense of self and how often I reflect on things solely inside my realm of existence. I read a podcast transcript yesterday of an interview with Naval Ravikant, the CEO of Angel List (a recommendation from a friend). He talks about his “monkey mind” of desires that “at some point gets out of control and then we are constantly talking to ourselves in our head. We’re playing little movies in our heads, walking down the street, but no one’s actually there.” It’s the brain working on overdrive, fantasizing about what the world might be like and how reality might ideally be. The guy says the best way to keep in touch with reality is “by not having a strong sense of self or judgments or mind presence. The monkey mind will always respond with this regurgitated emotional response to what it thinks the world should be. That will cloud your reality.” I agree with this to some extent. I don’t want to be a slave to my thoughts and inflated sense of self, but what’s an existence without a clear idea of who I am? Isn’t this the whole point of life–to figure out who I am and what kind of human I’d like to be? Or is that selfish? Am I selfish for thinking so often about my own existence? I look inward for such a large portion of my time that I forget to set aside time for others and think about where they’re coming from and how I might be making them feel in certain social situations. I just think about myself myself myself. Is it because I have too strong a sense of self? Is this selfish? I know in words, it sounds a bit silly. “No, Annie! It’s ok to think of yourself. You come into this world alone. You die alone. You journey through life alone. How could you not be thinking of the main player in your game of life?” But at the same time, I want to help others in some meaningful way. I probably won’t cure cancer or come up with life-improving innovations. I don’t believe in myself enough to think that I’d have an impact in that way. But that just means I have to make up for that in other ways. I can be kind to others and show empathy. I can be a supportive friend, daughter, sister, roommate, etc. I don’t want to just live a solitary life of self-engrossment. Self-improvement and growth is great and all, but if my time on this planet is only for myself, I can’t help but think that’s a little too selfish.
Am I overthinking this? Probably.
I want to lie in bed for a long time and not move, not think, not be worried, not exist actively.