And so it begins.
Day one of one-thousand-and-twenty-nine.
I’m doing this not necessarily for the sake of the prestige, i.e. having [the Ivy-League university I want to get into] on my resumé, having photos of a six-pack to put online, the recordings of my musical performances.
I’m embarking on this journey, undertaking these obstacles, injecting this chaos into my veins for the feelings, the experiences and emotions of which words, sounds and images are but signifiers.
The exhilaration of obtaining ever deeper understanding of the biochemical, physiological, neurological, anatomical and psychological fabric of my being.
The pure joy brought forth by the touch and affection of my beloved.
The feeling of invincibility as my lungs suck in air and my shoulders stretch clothing.
The awe of creating the beautiful sounds of music by my own hand.
The bone-deep confidence, glory and triumph that travels up my spine as I grow stronger and happier, day by day.
That’s what I wrote last night, starting at around half an hour before midnight. Before that, I spent around six hours reading the writings of DT, a man who reminds me of Fight Club’s narrator, or what I’d be 17 years down the line if I become less obsessively ambitious, read more books, and drank more alcohol. I found his posts simultaneously witty, insightful and so fucking relatable. I mean, Jesus; it’s like he detests most of humanity as much as I do, and he’s a fucking cool guy to boot. Don’t get too many of those around.
Cocksucking aside, what really had an impact is that I realized that things aren’t so goddamn serious. Of course, I place the value and importance of my ambitions at tier one, but I don’t have to keep fretting and writing posts laden with melodramatic commitments to the enactment of heroic self-improvement. I’m going to get there, I’m a smart, capable guy who gets exceedingly angsty if things aren’t moving forward; I’m going to get where want and need to be, it’s just a matter of time.
So in the meantime, instead of brewing and nurturing this heartfelt hate for the pleb fucks that mill around me every day, I should just fucking laugh. Be amused. It’s nothing to get worked up about. Nevertheless, I still harbor such deep animosity for most of the people on campus. The town that I stay in is effectively built around the university, not only in geographical terms, but also socially and culturally. There’s another major university, an hour away in the city, where all the liberal, sophisticated types go to, the place where I should’ve gone. Instead, I came here because my uncle happened to own a sweet apartment that he was renting out. Now, I’m surrounded by guys and girls who’ve come from rural areas halfway across the country, who spent their adolescence in boarding schools staffed by conservative Christians who somehow inadvertently managed to instill in them an even greater drive to drink, fuck, watch sports and shun any original thoughts whatsoever.
Right now, on campus, in the bars, on the street I’m surrounded by the ubiquitous hordes of wifebeater-wearing bros that populate the collegiate milieu. Their tanned arms and torso stretching a vest featuring some 1950s pop art that they think let them fuck the hipster chick with the tattoos and thick-rimmed glasses. The shorts that effectively hide the paltry circumference of their thighs (alright, maybe not, some of these guys have fucking tree trunks from high-school sports). That vacant stare, eyes programmed to lock on to two things: drunken fights and easy pussy. The deep voice that spouts slang and reeks of insufferable stupidity. You know, the kind of guys vengeful, spiteful nerds love to hate.
Around this time next year, I’m going to be hitting 100kg at 6’1″. I’ll have collected a few new items of clothing, tailored perfectly, weathered and worn just right, exuding comfort, style, sophistication. I’ll still be sharing the same spaces with these guys, competing for the same women (perhaps the more upscale, classy ones, but you get the idea), and goddamnit, I look forward to beating them at their own game.
The same goes for the passive-aggressive academically competitive fucks in my courses. Most of the people in the STEM modules are pleasant, agreeable people, here to just get their degree and maybe, like, go look for a nice job, you know, or get an Honor’s degree. But then there are the insecure shitbirds who are fucking masters at subtly expressing just how much better they are than you at getting a better score. Or maybe it’s just me, perhaps I’m just projecting my frustration at not being able to pull off the top of the class performance I keep attempting. What might be the thing that bothers me the most is that some of the people beating me are women, individuals with vaginas and ovaries and menstrual cycles and shit and oh god what the fuck I’m being bested by a girl. I mean, what the fuck, where’s my testosterone? Where’s my continuation of the legacy of academic leaders who so far have been exclusively men? Anyway, what I do know for sure is that I am smarter than these people, male, female, or otherwise. I write verbose, self-aggrandizing blog posts with above-average vocabulary and I say ‘fuck’ a lot, so that must count for something.
Does it bother me that I sound like a bitter, vindictive cunt? Slightly. Will it attenuate the sweet taste of ‘beating’ them when I reach my goals 300, 500, 700, 1000 days from now? Fuck no.
So, with that out of the way, let’s have a look at some more operational concerns.
I drew up an Excel spreadsheet that neatly shows the years, months, weeks and days between now and August 31st, 2016, when I more or less expect the graduate programs to start in the medical faculty at Harvard. I’ve filled it with weekly, monthly and yearly goals and annotated it with information pertaining to shit like application deadlines and examination periods and GRE availability. For example, this week, between then 13th and 18th, I’m scheduled to complete 70 hours of studying, 3 hours of exercise (sticking to short, intense sessions with a kettlebell since gym membership expired and I won’t be staying in this town for long) and 7 hours of guitar practice. A tall order? Definitely. Worth it? Absolutely.
What I like about this approach is that it highlights just how fucking finite time is. I only get to live this stretch once, I only get one shot at each day. I genuinely fucking horrified at the prospect of recording that I only completed 60, 50 or (god forbid) 40 hours of the scheduled 70. I can never go back and say ‘oh, shit, that’s where I slacked off, that’s what made me get rejected by the admissions office or the dream girl, let me fix that‘.
Naturally, a big part of me is saying that ‘this is too goddamn much, this is a life of constant work and toil, you’re still wasting it if you don’t enjoy it‘. That’d be true if the painful discipline and effort was a means unto itself; rather, it’s a means to an end. The swell of pride in my chest as I see my student number on the wall next to the highest score. The thrill that shoots up your back when you feel the DOMS perfectly balanced with deep sleep and wholesome food; it feels like cumming, I swear. That feeling of mastery when you pull off playing an impossibly hard phrase of music with no mistakes.
In terms of happiness and misery, pain and gain, all of that shit, life is a zero-sum game. You can either play it safe and never really have your lungs set on fire or have your fingertips swell with blisters or feel your mind starting to fray at the edges because holy shit if I have to memorize one more goddamn blood vessel – then you’ll reap the accompanying lukewarm, mediocre rewards. The middle-of-the-road career results. The girlfriend with saggy tits who doesn’t get jokes you think are clever as fuck. The wobbly fat encroaching on your obliques. The regret pooling in your stomach as you watch some unkempt scumbag strum a few chords and get loads of pussy while you know that if you just kept fucking practicing and didn’t let it fall by the wayside you could have beaten his ass by making jaws drop because goddamnit, you know, feel and understand music so much fucking better than he does.
On the other hand, when you start getting comfortable with pain, when you develop Stockholm syndrome with discipline, when getting up and seizing the fuck out of every day becomes simple and routine, then it’s not that hard anymore. It’s like brushing your teeth. By then, you’re so far up the goddamn mountain that people just kind of step aside and stare, knowing you’re one of those people, the kind that just gets it, the type of person they’d want to be if they just had more time, more motivation, more willpower.
But what’s most important is that you know you didn’t waste a day. That every evening, when you slide into that cool, crisp bed, you know deep down in your gut that you’re one step closer to where you want to be than you were yesterday. That the girls you think of while you masturbate are going to be replacing your hand real fucking soon, if they haven’t already. That one day, somewhere near day 1000, you’re going to get on a plane with a ticket with ‘Boston’ printed over it, and you fucking made it.
Jesus, I sure love devolving into speeches.
Finally, some points to keep in mind:
- Sleep – sleep is so fucking important. 7-8 hours every night, or the next day is more or less entirely fucked. If I do manage to resist the mind games my addled brain plays with me during the 5 minutes after my alarm goes off, the rest of the day I just kind of amble through things: words are read but don’t register, weights feel heavier, people seem annoying for no particular reason, just playing arpeggios at the end of the day feels like I’m attempting Paganini or some shit
- Planning – Every day has to be briefly outlined the night before. Every day. Otherwise I just end up fucking around, which unfortunately often seems to happen even during the days when I have everything mapped out because I had a dip in
- Focus – Stick to the plan. The scheduled hours have to be completed, no matter what. If something unavoidable prevents me from doing so, I add it to a deficit i.e. I catch up during overtime later on. Of course, this has the potential of snowballing so fucking fast it’ll make your head spin. Mindless browsing and other fucking around can be done during breaks.