Organizing Helps Social Alienation

I think one of the most beautiful things about being committed to field organizing is that it forces you to become a better person socially. I still don’t consider myself to be particularly socially smart in certain very deep respects. I still have got a long, long ways to go. But I’ll tell you this: I was way, way worse when I first started. The amount of improvement I’ve made in terms of my social intelligence from when I first started my career to now has been absolutely staggering. Night and day difference: organizing has totally transformed me deep into … Continue reading Organizing Helps Social Alienation

Self-Development is Strange & Weird & Worth It

I’m having one of those mornings where my brain is firing a hundred thoughts a minute. There’s a larger idea that all these rapid-fire thoughts are coalescing towards, and I can sense that it’s there, somewhere, and so my hope is that if I just write my thoughts down in an essay, I can start to comprehend that larger idea. This is going to be one of those essays that I’m probably not going to edit very much at all — just start writing completely in a stream-of-consciousness style and just see what happens. I had a very strange dream … Continue reading Self-Development is Strange & Weird & Worth It

Turning Hustle & Self-development Into an Identity: Don’t

I write a lot in these essays about hustle, and don’t get me wrong: I think hustle is important. You’ve got a limited amount of time on this Earth. If you want to live a fulfilled life, become the best person you can be, accomplish great things, etc., hustle is half the battle. There is no getting around the axiomatic fact that in order to do lots of stuff, you’ve got to take lots of action. Something I’ve been reflecting on the last few days, though, is the point when “hustle” becomes an identity — when “hustle” becomes something you … Continue reading Turning Hustle & Self-development Into an Identity: Don’t

3 Self-Help Clichés

Let’s combine three self-help clichés. When I was very obese 7 months ago, I wanted to not be obese. The goal was be *just* overweight. Then I got there, but I made the decision: why stop. I thought I would be happy when I could fit in a medium-sized t-shirt. And then I did that. My next goal after that was to get into a healthy weight range. I did that. Then the goal was to look great in a small-sized t-shirt. I’ve done that, and now I’m telling myself I’ll be satisfied when I can see my abs. I could … Continue reading 3 Self-Help Clichés

Call to Action for Life

I’m in one of those moods: Life is yours to make it. As a kid growing up, you don’t get to choose how you start off. You don’t get to choose how much privilege you have; you don’t get to choose your family or your upbringing. But when you are an adult — whether you are comfortable or have gone through unimaginable pain — you realize that there are things that you can control and there are things that you cannot control. Focus on the things you can control. The world is oppressive, yes. That isn’t your fault. And still, … Continue reading Call to Action for Life

Don’t Confuse Apathy with Fulfillment

I feel like a big mistake that people in their 20’s make — and I’m certainly no exception — is confusing apathy for happiness/fulfillment. You see it everywhere, and it makes sense, because on the outside, apathy and inner spiritual fulfillment can look a lot alike. It’s this strange idea that “if I am comfortable and full just in my own skin, then I don’t need anything extra, and I don’t need to do anything extra, to be happy.” And I think at a certain level, it’s sort of true. To be fulfilled, you *should* be able to be happy … Continue reading Don’t Confuse Apathy with Fulfillment

On Maturity & Responsibility

A couple of weeks ago, I turned 25, and since then, I’ve felt super old. I keep on being told that, no, Ian, what are you talking about, you’re not old. But my brain is weird, and it’s a feeling I haven’t been able to shake. It’s the feeling that, oh my god, I’ve been alive for a quarter century now, and yes, I may have a great job that both pays the bills and fills me with abundant purpose, but what the heck, I still identify as a kid, deep down, on a base identity-level sort of way. And … Continue reading On Maturity & Responsibility

The Importance of Win-Win Relationships in Organizing

Over the last two years as a hobby, I’ve been reading a lot of self-help books. Really, my reading self-help books is a spin-off interest of one of the main driving passions of my life — organizing. They’re really quite similar fields: the caricature of self-help is that “if your life sucks, it is up to you as an individual to fix your mindsets and behaviors, and then you can thrive,” while the caricature of Left organizing is that “if your life sucks, it is up to you as an individual to gather as a group and create/alter social structures … Continue reading The Importance of Win-Win Relationships in Organizing

On Giving Gratitude

So, for work every day, I’ve had to be at a particular geographic area around lunch time. There’s one of those Chinese express takeout places there, and so — also in a general attempt to eat healthier and eat fewer carbs — I’ve been going there and getting two portions of the plain roast chicken and steamed vegetables. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and it’s always the same lady working there, and by now she knows what I’ll be ordering every day, and today she gave me a smile, sneakily glanced over to her manager, then … Continue reading On Giving Gratitude