While it’s been months since I last posted on my week-daily ideas, I miss it. I’m grateful for the work I have put into it in the past, and I want to return with an idea that I am working hard to internalize. Namely, that this is it.
I heard this idea from Ali Abdaal on one of his podcasts. I think he heard it from Alan Watts. But whatever the source, this lesson can be incredibly helpful in living in the here and now. The idea behind “this is it” is that we have nothing more than the present moment. And if we aren’t happy with our “this” being “it,” we should probably change something.
I’m at college now, and a lot of my time here is spent thinking about the future. For many, that is the sole purpose of college: preparing them for the future. Others promote a philosophy of enjoying the little moments, claiming that your college years will be the best four of your life.
I am sure at one point or another in my writing, I have mentioned that I fall into the former group. I usually live four years in the future, thinking what I am going to do down the line rather than what I am doing at the moment. All my actions are calculated to create an ideal future state. This can be helpful, but it can also be a little sad. It’s as if I am unhappy in the present moment, so I am working for a future state in which I am happy. This is where this is it comes in.
While applying for random internships, I took a step back and realized what I had been doing. I had fallen back into my habit of working for an ideal future world rather than living in the present. I didn’t stop to ask what would make me happy today. Instead, I worked towards what I thought would make me happy months down the line.
For a while now, I’ve decided that my purpose in life is to provide individuals the tools and opportunities they need to flourish. I still stand by that. Yet, I am recognizing that the way I’m achieving this goal isn’t really achieving this goal. I see myself doing this down the line, once I finish college and start a career (hopefully in AI policy). If you asked me how I am fulfilling that purpose right now, though, I wouldn’t have an answer. I don’t think I’m doing that now.
I haven’t totally embraced the whole “this is it” philosophy. I still spend most of my time in that future mindset. Although, I don’t think these two ideologies are totally incompatible. There are times when looking towards the future is incredibly helpful. There are other times when looking towards the present and thinking about what I’m doing now to support my purpose is incredibly helpful. Both methodologies have different purposes. Still, I think I need to spend a little more time doing the latter rather than just obsessing about the former.
So, what can I do in the present to support my purpose? I found the answer pretty quickly. In fact, I was surprised how quick it came to me. To fulfill my purpose, I need to create. One of my YouTube videos almost has 300 views and 9 hours of watch time. I’m proud of that. And for me, someone who is rarely proud of anything I do, that means something big.
Sharing my ideas with the world is important to me. Hopefully they help someone. If they do, I am achieving my purpose. But even if they don’t, at least I created an opportunity to help others. And so, I am choosing to write, today. Because after writing this piece, I’m not uncomfortable thinking that this is it. I am walking away knowing that I’m doing my best to help others flourish.