(At tea at shiloh, one of my favourite spaces to read book / write essays / work in LA).
Ava from bookbear express (my fav newsletter of all time) aptly depicts my current dilemma: “… for a long time the things that happened to me felt interesting and exciting and romantic. Lately they just feel dark.”
These days I found myself interested in very different things other than just running a crypto startup – building real-life objects using plastics & coating with primer, hanging out at lumber warehouses, soldering & making PCBs, hacking with different models of neural radiance fields, and more.
I'm also constantly hacking on projects with different people while immersing myself in the worlds of math and biotech. It's my way of embodying Paul Graham’s advice on Undergraduation and while time-consuming, I feel the happiest & the most content I've ever been in my undergraduate years.
A few weekends ago, 60 random college-aged hackers from all around the world ended up in a public bathtub in New York to pull an internet prank. We ran a one-night, pop-up steakhouse for the overwhelming reaction to a fake Google Maps listing that our housemate, Danielle, posted under our hacker house address.
At the time I was just busy bussing tables; a few weeks out I thought about what made this internet prank so successful. I think it’s because of people like Riley and Mehran.
I became friends with Riley and Mehran while living in a hacker house in New York after leaving high school. I really look up to them not just because they are cool and intelligent, but most importantly, high-agency people.
High-agency people have power, are intentional, and are forward thinking. Perhaps it’s one of the most important traits that most successful people have – I see myself lacking this trait at times, but I also witness this trait in every single high-impact person I know – like my mentor Steven, Daniel Hwang, Anson Yu, Sigil Wen, etc. It's a quality worth aspiring to cultivate.
For some reason, there’s a constant pressure to make the most of the remainder of my undergraduate years. I wonder when I will get to do something like this, ever again. Maybe that’s the reason why I pack my calendars tight, and try to balance full-time school and work.
I think the reason I persist in this jam-packed and seemingly outrageous lifestyle is my aversion to conformity. If I had to work for someone building something I fundamentally diagreed with, chances are, I would resign in the first three months. I think that’s because most things I view as “success” came from challenging the status quo. I derive very little satisfaction from tasks I find unfulfilling, and I optimize my lifestyle to reduce the likelihood of being obligated to undertake such endeavors.
While grabbing lunch with my friend Shane in New York, he told me that the barrier of entry may not be as high as it seems. In Singapore, my investor Nicola told me that I should do things I want to build instead of “following the market”. Maybe it’s time to do something new.
I cannot put into words how crazy it is to live this moment as an 18-year-old. Maybe it is these experiences, interactions, and people that will help shaping me into the high-agency adult that I’ve always wanted to become. Always grateful to be surrounded by such awesome and crazy humans who always offer me mentorship and experience!