Juan David's Newsletter - September 18th, 2022
The Slipping Gratefulness, Part 2.
Two weeks ago, I told you I would be talking to the big dog at the engineering school, The Dean. Well, that meeting happened and it was as to be expected. We didn’t get pushed away but we did. We got responses like, “We are a big school” or comments like “The system isn’t perfect but it works for most people.”
I won’t go into too much depth because it was a waste of time and brutally boring. A couple of friends pointed out to me how frustrated I’ve become recently but really I’ve been like this since I started college. I wouldn’t say “I’m frustrated” because I’m not losing sleep or getting sad about these matters but what I do get is bad energy. Bad energy is powerful but for reasons, you may not want it to be powerful because, subconsciously, it makes me want to prove these mfs wrong.
But no, I don’t want to ever do things for those reasons. NEVER.
This has made me rethink my whole behavior. Before college, I wasn’t super content. During college, I’m not super content.
But setting aside “frustrations” and what I wished things were. Gratefulness needs to come first.
This idea isn’t exactly easy to implement because even though I think it’s super important to be grateful and I try really hard to, my desire to change things, make them better, and reduce their inefficiencies makes me quite ungrateful at times.
The whole idea can be summarized in a few words:
How can you be grateful while at the same time want to improve things?
The first step starts by realizing how lucky I am. Yes, I’m truly lucky because of who I am, where I am, and why I am. In most scenarios I could imagine right now, I’m either not alive, don’t know English, and definitely not writing this.
Just today I was talking to a super talented kid who didn’t go to college and is successful by any definition of success and was telling me how he wished he was where I am, in college.
That reminded me again to yes, improve things and whatever. But also, to take it easy because I am incredibly fortunate in ways I don’t even know.
The second step is understanding what gratefulness truly is about. Gratefulness isn’t only about accepting how things are. It’s more powerful. It’s about accepting where and how they are and seeing where things could reach.
In Happy & Ambitious? How to be Both?, I wrote:
That is how most people approach their life. You either work hard and maybe you will be happy. Or you are “happy” and relax.
This is how we think. This is how humans think. We think in terms of either A or B, either X or Y.
But how can you actually be both? Grateful and also wanting to improve things? In my case, college is highly structured and if I’m not careful, I can forget the things I love doing by immersing myself in meaningless exams and tedious homework. Or even worse attending career fairs. Just kidding, career fairs aren’t that bad.
Therefore, I need to create an approach for myself where I have low or no time commitment to school assignments so I can use the rest of my time to do the things I love doing. This semester, I’ve been doing this and it’s working out great.
One of the questions I’ve been thinking about is the following:
WHAT DO UIUC STUDENTS WANT?
My goal and focus have been creating something at least 10,000 people want. UIUC is a big school of 50,000 people. Making something they want seems like one of the best things I could do with my time here.
The UIUC Free Food and UIUC Talkshow is an example. Today, I released a video about a research program students always have questions about. Up next, I want to focus on loneliness as every day there is someone posting on the school Reddit how they don’t have friends. Should we create a UIUC Matchmaking show?1 UIUC Lovefields? I made this post on Friday morning and so far 75 people have submitted their information.
Besides being fun and helpful to folks out here, this also makes me grateful because I get to focus on what I’m great at while appreciating what the school has to offer: 50,000 people and an opportunity for some crazy startup to emerge after many experiments.
The truth is I won’t change the broken college system by trying to go against the NPC pieces on the big board. The best thing I can do is start small but dangerous experiments that go against the establishment like the one time I created the AI Office Hours Website. What would it look like if I create this thing again but for a different writing-based class so students don’t ever need to do boring and stupid writing assignments again? This way, the school would be forced to be focused on actual learning.
Although at times it may sound like I’m frustrated, I am really just incredibly excited to be alive, to work on cool projects, and keep living!!!
This is what I’m talking about, small steps toward a much more grateful life. This is also how I start to become more grateful and avoid The Slipping Gratefulness.
This video marks the official beginning of many interesting experiments. I’m so excited to see where they lead and what opportunities are created.
In other news, the Flying Project is going well. This week I learned a lot about drones and even talked with a CEO of a flying car who offered their patents. Lots of good progress. Now I just need the green paper.
Don’t have a good week, have a GREAT WEEK,
Juan David Campolargo
I won’t lie. This sounds like a really, really dumb idea. Who knows? It may actually be. Everyone knows you need to try out "dumb" ideas. Yet no one actually does so if you actually do, you get results no one does. Simple but subtle. Facebook had a similar story.