Starting Things

Starting things is hard. Finishing them is harder. Commitment issues lol.
Tags: [ personal ]

It’s 2:08am on Christmas day in Hakone, Japan as I try to think of a good way to start this1. One of the things I’ve been telling myself for the last three years is that someday I’ll maintain a website that’s more than just a cryptic online resume. Perhaps it’d be a data science blog, something along the lines of FiveThirtyEight or IQuantNY. Or maybe an online repository of side projects and ideas, the prospect of putting them up for someone else to discover supposedly motivating me to finish them.

Ironically the project to create that repo has started and stopped, started and stopped, and now I’m trying to start it again. And so with my 5th semester of college done, I finally have what some people around me refer to as “bandwidth” to actually do this. Think of it like an early New Year’s resolution.


Made that up on the spot for “too short; want to read more”. I think for as long as I can remember, I’ve been excited about the future. Not so much in the “omg I can’t wait for all this new technology to make our lives 10x better sense”, but more in the idea that future me will have completed things that seem cool or exciting to present me. So I guess this is only conditional excitement. And maybe selfish. There’s just something appealing about recognizing some present-day issue or a project that’s waiting to be done, and imagining the course of action that will one day lead to its eventual success.

But then reality throws a wrench in that. Because present self doesn’t recognize how busy life outside gets. That it’s too easy to fall into ritual with the things that supposedly warrant higher priority. That time is finite and rivalrous across activities and too easily consumable and soon enough the future is here.

Present self also has to deal with another curse that hides itself as a blessing. Because while being excited about the notion of side projects and generally optimistic about the future might be considered a pretty productive mindset, it doesn’t turn off when it should. And so we have the notion of starting something else new when I should be finishing something previously started.

It’s then not a matter of just juggling too many things. Rather things have to give. And with all that excitement of starting something new, of course the older idea seems less appealing than the newer one. Slowly the former is abandoned. Perhaps it’s somewhat or partly done, but not neatly packaged as completed.

The process continues, where overlapping waves of excitement produce a lot of churn and effort dedicated to projects and ideas, and nothing ever truly finishes. Of course there’s the sentiment that there is always room for improvement, and that individuals shouldn’t rest on their laurels. But this assumes that I come back to improve something, whereas more often than not that old motivation just isn’t there anymore. One could also argue that this isn’t totally bad in the sense that I am still learning and growing through this non-tangible effort entertaining ideas. But it often feels like completion is still ideal, that it’d be nice to sit back one day and re-teach myself some previous work, or even pick it up again to improve it. This is a little hard to do if there isn’t anything to show or work with.

Back to introducing this site

Accordingly that’s where this site–and perhaps the blogging section in particular–comes into play. Yes to write down my thoughts for later. Yes to perhaps become better at communicating ideas to others. And yes to maybe being more introspective / analytical of my life. But also to leave myself with something tangible at the end of the day and remind + motivate myself to finish with small victories.

And to try to relate this back to that opening bit about Hakone, Japan, it feels fitting to try to stay up now. Because having started this idea, it feels fitting to finish the first version of thoughts for an actual post on this site (I say as if I have a choice, thinking [incorrectly] that with a college sleep schedule I can’t get jet-lag anymore).

To wrap things up, I don’t think I intend to write about too many personal things, but who knows. Toward the idea of maintaining a technical blog and finishing more side projects, I also agree that third-party accountability can be a very powerful thing. So if someone is reading this and in some time there aren’t write-ups on telling stories through data science or thoughts on schoolwork / research ideas or a student’s guide to Stat 110 resources (if you know, you know), please kindly find me and make me feel bad about it.