This entry will come across as a humblebrag but whatevs.
I’ve been taking stock of my life recently and realized I’ve assembled some random life achievements:
- A Computer Science Genetic Programming Bibliography entry
- A patent
- A song on Spotify
- A book on Amazon
- A magazine interview
The thing is, in my mind, I deserve real credit for none of these things – on virtually all of them, I was along for the ride; I took no initiative myself. The Genetic Programming entry happened only because a class I took at Stanford assembled all our projects into a textbook. (This has happened with other Stanford coursework also – my final research project for my NLP class on automatic document summarization gets randomly cited in papers like this one). The patent was just because Facebook, like many big companies, aggressively files for patents to be defensive, and like many (most) software patents, it’s kind of meaningless. The Spotify song was all Minho – he assembled a worship album for our church and I just contributed. The book I contributed none of the content, it was just editing my dad’s writing and I didn’t even want my my name credited. The magazine interview was from 7th grade after our band won a national jazz competition. I’ve come up in Google News and Google Books before, both only because my name was attached to the official blog post when Facebook updated Groups. It’s kind of an interesting list of accomplishments but I wasn’t really the driver on any of them.
To be honest, I feel like my entire academic and professional life has been like that. It’s never been that I set out to accomplish some goal then executed on a plan to make it happen. It’s really that I stumbled across every achievement I’ve made. To be fair, it’s not like I did nothing – I participated fully every time. And I will say that one thing I have done in my life is attempt to say yes to many different things, so that kind of makes things happen. Still, I feel like most of what has happened in my life is a result of providence, not intentionality. Because of that I find it enormously difficult to feel like I deserve almost anything good that has happened to me. And I can’t decide if that’s a proper humble posture or not.
Part of the reason I’m taking stock of my life is because, if you didn’t already know, I was let go from my job a few weeks ago, but that’s for another time (maybe).