– This moon is shit – said someone at a party last night. – It’s not even an accurate representation of the terrain.
– Yeah, I see what you mean. – I said. – That’s 3D printing with a light inside, so they had to add an extra layer for the basins to make them dark, and vice versa.
– I don’t care. It’s simply shit.
If only I could chill about my work like I chill about my moon
It’s hard to find happiness if everything has to be perfect
Nobody cares about how good you can be. They only care what is done.
What would YOU compliment yourself for?
PERFECT. FEATURELESS. VOID.
That’s probably the closest I will ever get to free floating in outer space. I never knew floating in outer space would be so freaking scary.
A free fall feels exciting, liberating, and out of this world. It’s also absolutely frightening, and not quite optimal when you want to actually get some stuff done.
As much as I loved the experience of a free fall when bungee jumping, I do appreciate having some ground under my feet in everyday life. I like to know it’s there. I’m happy I don’t have to think about it when I’m trying to get from one place to another.
If I couldn’t trust the floor in my high-rise apartment, I would panic each time I walk from my bedroom to kitchen.
It’s good to trust my accountant that I am compliant with all tax regulations and won’t go to jail.
It’s good to trust the company I work for they will pay me for my work at the end of each month.
It’s good to trust the city transport system that subway cars were tested, regularly checked and won’t suddenly burst into flames.
It’s good to trust the engineers who built my apartment block that it’s stable enough and won’t collapse even when the weather is harsh.
It’s good to trust the people I find most inspiring that if I do X I’ll have a good life.
That’s why navigating underwater was so hard. Without seeing the ground, the horizon, or a guide before me, all I could trust back then was myself.
You probably barely notice what makes up the ground under your feet. Until it starts feeling wobbly, and then you’re in the free fall again.
I thought that once I finally understand how the world works, I will avoid such disappointments. But then I realised, the stable ground is not as stable as it seems.
It’s okay to cherrypick, iterate and have mixed feelings – that’s how you learn and grow.
One thing that stopped me from refining my beliefs was hoping for a complete system that will answer all of my questions. I used to think there is an ultimate answer, and people have either got it figured or not. If someone is a Wise Man, he must have all the answers right. He wouldn’t be a Wise Man otherwise, would he?
In result, whenever I admired someone’s way of thinking, but then found a flaw in it, my trust in them got broken. I was disappointed to hear that Steve Jobs rejected evidence-based medicine, he seemed like a smart guy to me before. If he was so wrong about such basic things, could anything he ever said have any worth at all?
Only with time I realised it’s perfectly possible to hold both very wise and utterly confused beliefs at the same time. Even Nobel Prize laureates can be deeply wrong on some topics that are not the main area of their expertise. Even an arrogant self-help guru can have some wise insights on life.
Again, realising this was both frightening and liberating. Frightening, because I could no longer have absolute trust in any philosophy, community or person, no matter how smart they seemed. Liberating, because I no longer had to defend obvious bullshit when I found it in my idols, and could still enjoy the good parts of a system I don’t trust as a whole.
It’s good to build my sense of how the world works on the shoulders of the finest philosophers, scientists and spiritual leaders.
It’s even better to sometimes verify if all their beliefs are equally valid and true.
And this I can only do all alone, navigating with my compass in hand.
- Got engaged to my amazing partner and my best friend,
- Bought a lovely apartment together with him,
- Had 2 articles published in a nation-wide magazine (and the third one is going to be even better!),
- Co-organized a big 2-day coding workshop for women and several smaller classes,
- Meditated more often than not during the entire year,
- Attended my first WordCamp as a speaker, and another one as a volunteer,
- Finished a scuba diver course in freezing cold water (and freezing air temperature around),
- Deadlifted more than my bodyweight, multiple times in series of 5,
- Learn how to sing traditional Eastern European songs from some very best teachers of this craft,
- Sold a picture I painted (who would have thought, huh?),
- Travelled to the US, Italy, Ireland, France, Denmark, Greece, Canada, and now came to Thailand with an unexpected layover in Turkey, and possibly more unexpected stops on the way back,
- Visited NASA Space Center, including the famous Houston Mission Control,
- Survived multiple breakdowns, failures, self-doubts, and panic attacks which turned into breakthroughs and made me all much stronger.
Can the sense of wonder survive as a kid grows up?
If an idea scares you to death, that’s great. This is how you know it’s one worth pursuing.
There’s always opportunities around, if you’re paying attention.
Hi, this is Sylwia! I’m calling from the Cosmos…
This weekend I learned a great deal about what courage is. It’s knowing that scuba diving in freezing cold water is an absolutely awful and unpleasant experience because you’ve just learned it firsthand, and then still choosing to do the same fucking awful thing again the next day because you’ve signed up for it. And choosing to do it with a smile.
Why would anyone go diving in freezing cold water? For a while I was wondering why I’m doing this to myself. Even though I’ve been putting off this scuba diving course for way too long, nothing bad would happen if I didn’t complete it this time. I could make a deal with the diving school to finish it in the summer, start it again in a warm tropical sea, or decide that diving is not my priority right now. It never was anyway, at least until now.
Yet somehow out of all the possible ways to spend a December weekend I chose to get my ass wet in a freezing cold lake. Me, who fucking hates cold water from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know how they tricked me into this. That’s not something I’d normally do, and for sure not something I’d normally pay for.
In the morning before the first dive I realised what I actually signed up for, and what an insane idea it was. Putting my diving gear together, still safe and warm indoors, I started freaking out that I will freeze there, get sick, or do something crazy stupid and unsafe.
This wasn’t a totally baseless fear. With the first wave of freezing cold water over my head my mind went blank and I instantly forgot the basic stuff I learned at the swimming pool. I couldn’t even keep myself afloat above the lake bottom. Our divemaster suggested I complete the mandatory exercises and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. I ran back freezing, crying, and already terrified I’ll have to do the same thing again.
Then in the afternoon I passed the written test and had to decide what I will do next. I could either put myself together and complete that one last round of diving exercises the next day, or put it off for who knows how long. As much as I hate cold water, I chose to do this crazy ridiculous thing one last time, and to try having fun while I do it. Even if the ‘fun’ part meant crying and laughing at my own misery.
This second time I’ve postponed getting dressed till the very last moment in order to stay warm for as long as I could, put as much clothes as possible under my wetsuit, poured warm water all over myself, and ran into the lake screaming “I’M A FUCKING NINJA TURTLE!”. (Well, wearing the diving gear I totally looked like one).
It was still as freezing and unpleasant as the day before, but I no longer cared. Neither the blistering cold water, the diving mask fogging up, my breathing gear going bananas, nor losing a fin halfway through the exam would make me lose my nerve. I stayed on top of all these the things, and surprised both our divemaster and myself asking him if we can dive around for 5 more minutes (but no more!).
I was wondering why I’m doing this to myself, but I think I know now. This experience made me feel stronger and more powerful than I was before. I still despise cold water, but once I made a resolution to go back there even though it’s so awful, I stopped letting the fear overwhelm me. I’ve let fear paralyse me way too many times, and now I finally know I can be scared but still stay in charge.
Cold water isn’t the only thing in my life I’ve been dreading, but now I feel I am able to face all these things. Maybe not everything at once, and maybe I’ll need to ask for help many more times than I’m used to, but if I survived the scuba diving crash course, there’s not much more that can stop me. I’m a fucking ninja turtle after all.