We need to have a strong sense of self — of who you are — so you can be unaffected by the way others might define you as

When we don’t know what to choose it’s because we don’t know who we are. We outsource so much of our value system to others (see: prestige) because we haven’t yet figured this out for ourselves.

Self-knowledge feeds self-trust. Self-trust feeds self-knowledge. And the more you have of both, the less you need the approval of others. This helps us avoid the trap of optionality because with self-trust, we know what we want

See also: In Over Our Heads, taste


Essay by Jenny Odell and in Kopi Chats on Substack

“When I examine my identity, I do see an inalienable spirit grasping for infinity. But in the very same place, I also see an intersection of historical and cultural vectors, held up by a web of countless reliances.”

Reminds me of Indra’s Net, that everything is interdependent, empty of dependent origination.

”Connective vulnerability is so frightening because sometimes we will be let down by others, unmoored from friendships and relationships we thought were our anchors in life. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. (see: nothing-stops)“

Being yourself


I’ve been thinking about it like this: simply embrace what I actually want and like. Whenever possible, I should try to separate my motivations from the myriad other factors influencing my thoughts and behaviour: other people’s expectations, cultural norms, feelings of jealousy. The good life, says Rogers, comes from confronting your own actual desires, even if those desires are ugly and you do not yourself endorse them, and recognizing that that’s who you are. Deeply understanding your wants and needs is the only place from which you can actually change or grow.

The best way to know what a person wants to do is simply look at what they actually repeatedly do. I should just dive head-first into the things I actually want, rather than yearning for some set of things I need to force myself to want

The most creative people I know are actually just deeply in touch with their own taste, their own feelings, their own aesthetic desires and preferences, their own style, and then turn that into an artifact.

Becoming an artist, they say, is about learning how to play in this way—the way that you cannot help but play—and turning it into a unique style.

“find what you’re good at, then do that on purpose.”

I find that the stuff that comes super easy to me, the stuff that doesn’t even feel like “work”, is the stuff other people are often impressed by or encourage me to do more.

On competition

I never want to engage in zero-sum thinking—thoughts like “only some small number of us are going to make it”. I never want to feel like I’m entering a race. I do want to feel like I’m pursuing my own authentic goals and have fun.

My goal is to focus ruthlessly on being myself, be open to learning what my strengths are through feedback from others, and avoid the temptation to enter crowded fields at all costs. If I focus on being myself, the notion of competition disappears