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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

Advice I give others that I don’t follow myself by CJ Q. '23


  • People change, and that includes you. You don’t have to live up to the person you were, or who you think you were. You can admire things that your past self did, without having to do them again. You can admire personality traits they had, like taking risks, and that doesn’t mean you have to be like that now. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re becoming worse. Situations change.
  • If you don’t have the energy for it, that’s fine. You’re fine. Most of the time, the factors are beyond your control, and it isn’t just an excuse you’re making up.
  • Not every single blog post you make has to be perfect. Sure, quality beats quantity, but the quality of your writing is like a probability distribution, and writing more gives better chances, in the long run, that you’ll write something good. (As a corollary, if you’re writing something you want to be good, like an essay, write early, write often, and prepare to throw most of your ideas away.)
  • Besides, a work is never truly completed. You can always edit blog posts, or write follow-ups.
  • The people that matter don’t mind and the people who mind don’t matter. It’s a cliche because it’s true, and we tend to ignore cliches, so take extra effort to remind yourself it’s true. In practice, it means that if you tell a friend you can’t talk to them right now, or can’t meet up with them, or can’t do something, because you’re busy, or not feeling so great, or need a break, then they probably wouldn’t mind.
  • It’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is yourself.
  • Intentionally schedule time to hang out with your friends, because you’ll forget otherwise. In fact, just schedule time for things that make you happy, because these tend to be the things that matter the most, more than finishing your pset, clearing your inbox, or writing up a feature for your UROP by tomorrow.
  • Cut the things that don’t matter and don’t spark joy, if you can afford to. Aggressively. This includes classes, commitments, and sometimes, people. And if you can’t, don’t sweat it.
  • Take breaks.
  • Take breaks, even if you have a lot of work to do.
  • Take breaks, especially if you have a lot of work to do.
  • Pursue those random bouts of motivation to do things, even if you think they aren’t productive. It seems that opportunities to pursue personal projects, talk to friends in the middle of the night, and just do things spontaneously in general, come by less often past college.
  • Oh, if only you would love yourself as much as others love you!
  • There’s a point to learning how to do things even if you never do them again, and for the same reason there’s a point to watching movies even if you forget about the details, and for the same reason there’s a point to making friends even if you eventually have to leave them.
  • For most decisions, the specific details of the pros and cons probably matter less than the fact that the decision was made with intentionality. This is sometimes why it feels bad when other people make decisions for you, even if they turn out to be good in the end. Do careful research, talk to other people, think about it deeply, and then abandon all of that and follow your gut.
  • It’s probably not the case that you are spending too much time reflecting on things.
  • Take your own advice. After all, you only give advice if it’s something you wish you would’ve done.