Navigating Self

My attempt to have a writing habit. Writing forces me to have clarity with how I'm living my life.

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Category: Thoughts

Gaining self, losing self

Gaining self

In my younger years, my goal was to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-made. Focused mostly on self. I want to be able to accomplish things without relying on anyone. And I was fairly becoming good at it.

The mindset I had was anyone can leave me anytime and I’ll be fine. It seemed like a nice idea at that time. However, this has limited the relationships I had to reach up to surface-level only. I was always on guard. It was very easy for me to cut people off as soon as there’s unpleasantness. There was no chance for relationships to grow.

The older I get though, the more it’s evident that self-sufficiency at a cost of relationships isn’t worth it. Okay, I can manage by myself. Now what? It turns out that dealing, facing, fixing the unpleasantness is a big part of what makes life a more meaningful experience.

Losing self

The second lie, is that I can make myself happy. That’s the lie of self-sufficiency. As anybody on their deathbed will tell you, the things that make people happy is the deep relationships of life, the losing of self-sufficiency. 

The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live (David Brooks)

I’ve accepted that I can’t do it all. I’ve been learning how to depend on other people. I try to share my problems even if it’s not natural for me to do. I do this to let them know that they’re safe to do the same. That they can depend on me when they need to.

I also actively reach out. I intentionally keep connections open. I show up to their life events. And it’s worth the effort.

I realized that losing of self-sufficiency is actually expanding of self. There are parts of me that shows only when I’m with people I trust and depend on. I did not lose anything. It’s quite the opposite. I gained a better understanding of myself.

Two-month break of taking new projects

I’m taking a two-month break of taking in new projects. Not out of burnout, but out of desire to try a different direction. I have this itch of starting something of my own initiative. This is especially hard for me because I’m not a visionary. I’m more of the person someone would trust executing a vision.

Timing also feels right as I’m turning 30 in two months. This is the kind gift I want to give myself before starting my next decade.

My focus for the next few weeks

  • This website
    • Create structure/framework/process that makes it real easy for me to publish and share
  • Create a habit of sharing of things I’m doing and learning
    • I love to teach. Sharing my journey teaches other people too.
  • Create a habit of writing and publishing
    • Publishing is the notable change here. By publishing, I’m forced to articulate my thoughts in a way another person can understand it.
  • Optimize on producing, not on consuming

Relative size perception

This is an optical illusion called Ebbinghaus illusion. It shows that when you put a circle around bigger circles, it looks smaller. But when you put it around smaller circles, it looks bigger despite that there’s no actual difference in size.

There’s this saying that you are the average of your friends. I think it’s the same thing, because we tend to be around people we don’t feel little in.

We are inclined to avoid uncomfortable situations.

If we want to grow, being the circle with bigger circles is a more optimal position to be in. There’s a lot of room for growth.

Unlike being the circle with smaller circles where we already feels big, there’s no incentive to grow.

The good side of being unfair

When I hear the word unfair, it usually comes from the perspective of the one being taken advantage of.

I didn’t realize that being in an unfair situation has a good side too. We can be unfair by giving more than necessary, by giving benefit of the doubt when it’s not warranted, by being the more loving when it isn’t even reciprocated.

I think this is the unfairness we should strive for. To be on the giving end. To be in a position where we have too much, we absolutely have to give without expecting anything in return.

Life isn’t fair. It’s good that we strive for fairness. It’s even better if we strive for unfairness, but on the giving end. 

Wishing for a stress-free life

I’ve been dreading having another unexpected stressors for the past weeks because it kept throwing me off-balance. Every single time it happens I get flooded with anxiety, which make me not able to function properly. I end up binge watching a Netflix series which only exacerbate my problem, which causes me more anxiety, until I’m at a full stop. My knee-jerk reaction is to wish for a life without stress.

There are rare moments though when I regain enough self-awareness to understand what’s going on. I realized that my anxiety will not be solved by a stress-free life. Stress are inevitable. My anxiety will be solved by knowing that I have the capacity to handle any stress that come my way. Instead of wishing it to go away, it’s better to wish for increased capacity to handle stress. Being better at handling unexpected turn of things. That is the way forward because it prepares me to whatever lies ahead.

How should I deal with it next time it happens?

  1. Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen? R u gonna die??”. If not, consider that your brain is most likely exaggerating it’s effect on your life. If the worst thing that can happen is losing your job or client, you can definitely find another one.
  2. Exercise and eat right. Mind and body are obviously connected. The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll handle life.
  3. Reframe stressors as life’s challenges. It’s like a puzzle that’s waiting to be solved. Solving it will reward you a natural high (a flood of oxytocin).
  4. Pray. Praying is an exercise of self-awareness. When you pray, you put in to words what you‘re wishing for. Putting it to words makes your thought concrete. A concrete thought gives you clarity and helps yourself understand what you are going through. It helps you focus on things you can do for yourself. For the things that’s out of your control, you can leave it to God. Do your part, then let go and let God.

All these will most likely turn my anxiety to ansaya teh.

Getting better at vim will give me nothing. It will not get me closer to any goal I have now.

So this is my simple observation: When deciding to embrace a self-motivated ambition, choose a definition of success that your aunt in Peoria would understand and find impressive. This is not about succumbing to the status quo, but instead setting yourself up to receive the brutal but useful feedback needed to eventually start producing things too good to be ignored. – Pursue Metrics that Matter, Cal Newport

I’ve been thinking of making my workflow vim-centric again, just because.

Then this got me thinking:

Getting better at vim will give me nothing. It will not get me closer to any goal I have now.

PhpStorm works perfectly fine. It’s heavy, yeah. But so what? My machine can handle it pretty good.

Ewan ko ba bakit na attract ako sa idea na of “get better” at vim. It does not provide value. What I mean is, the effort I will put in it does not convert to something of valuable.

Pursue metrics that matter. Getting better at vim does not matter. Getting better at coding does. Better yet, getting better at achieving goals that improves my life is the thing that truly matters.

Focus on getting better at creating things instead.


I enjoy understanding how other people code.

I’m not the type who bash at other programmers just because our “way” of thinking doesn’t align (most of the time).

Reading other’s people code and doing something about it is like stepping in someone else’s shoes. I asks all the why’s. Why did he do this, why did he do that. I try to think like the person who coded the thing.

Best practices are there for specific scenarios. There are no universal best practice. Early bird does not apply on going on a field of landmines.

The more “way” I know the better I get at choosing what’s the best for the situation.

This is why I’m getting paid by the premium. It’s because of the different “ways” I tried before and the lessons I learned from them and knowing which is the best for this specific situation.


Adjusting is normal, expected, and encouraged. It means you’re setting a plan, then adjusting that plan as new information arrives. — You Need a Budget: Rule One

This is from a budgeting methodology. However, this also applies to planning in general.

Things rarely go according to plan. But that doesn’t mean planning is useless. Planning gives you enough insight to know what to anticipate. What was planned isn’t absolute. It can and should be adjusted as events unfolds.

2020 © Jerico Aragon