Some remarks

This is partly a response to Rafid’s comment on my previous post. I don’t know if my symptoms are beginning to subside or if I’m just fighting more bitterly to stop them from dominating my day, but anyhow, I’m now trying to attack some work that should have been done a few days ago.

I think you’re right; exercise and diet probably have a lot to do with it. I don’t have a bike in Waterloo, and I’ve never had the endurance to run (sprinting is fun but I can only do that for one or two minutes). Most of my exercise I get from long, fast-paced walks. I also don’t eat that often since there aren’t that many foods I like (mostly just meat and vegetables).

This is becoming less and less relevant to my post, but I’ve been eating and drinking math for almost 4 years straight, and if I go right into grad school right after I graduate, I feel like I may burn out. I think it would do me a lot of good to take at least a few months off and travel. Not only psychologically, either: having to adapt to dramatically different lifestyles would probably help me conquer some fears and bad habits I’ve developed. Alas, I have no idea how I would ever come up with that kind of money.

I’m feeling more and more like I’m living a very narrow, sheltered life; if I don’t keep an eye out, I’ll start spotting gray hairs and will not even have any crazy life experiences to show for it. Plus, nobody is going to want to party with some 50-year-old guy.

I’ve also never drank a drop of alcohol in my life. This isn’t because I subscribe to some zealous “straight edge” ideology or something, nor is it for religious reasons. To be completely honest, the thought of any substance influencing my mental facilities just makes me recoil in terror (you can probably deduce, at this point, that alcohol isn’t the only substance I’ve utterly shunned). It has been that way for as long as I can remember. I wonder if I’m “missing out”, as they say… should I rehash these boundaries I’ve set?


About mlbaker

just another guy trying to make the diagrams commute.
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5 Responses to Some remarks

  1. Rafid Hoda says:

    I think it’s great that you have recognize the problem. The first step towards fixing anything is to properly identify exactly what it is that needs to be fixed.

    I like running because you really don’t need to go out and buy anything. It’s literally the simplest thing in the world to do, and it’s how we used to survive as a species back when we were a hunter-gatherer society. I think it’s a shame that due to the recent technological advances, we have distanced ourselves from truly using our bodies for what they were meant for and challenging ourselves physically. There are certain people in the world that are able to run non-stop for several days, but they’ll be the first to tell you that they are completely normal and possess no superior human traits.

    Last year, after the Winter term was over I went back to Norway for the summer. Since leaving Norway for the first time for Waterloo, I had gained around 8-10 kg. As with any weight gain, it was gradual, but towards the end of the Winter term it was becoming noticeable and I started getting some comments about it from my friends and family.
    Determined to lose the weight and get back in shape I made myself a goal of training for a half marathon over the 4 months of summer vacation I had and then run the Trondheim Half Marathon in early September, before coming back to Waterloo for the fall term.
    It required a lot of planning and persistence but I was able to take myself from being quite out of shape to being able to comfortably finish the race in 2 hours.
    However, the best moment for me was not when I crossed the finish line or when I got my medal, it was when I made the transition from a guy who did some running to a runner. Ask any runner what I mean by that and they’ll understand completely. The transition happens when you are able to run for hours and you can no longer feel any pain in your legs. At this point you are in a very spiritual place and running is providing a great outlet for you to let go of all the anger and frustration you have accumulated throughout the week. It is something that cannot be explained, but needs to be experienced.

    I don’t care how bad of a runner you think you are. If you run 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes, you will get really good in a couple of months.

    I also think you should go to Health Services for a check up. I know I’ve had periods where I felt unusually lethargic and a lot of times was that traceable to bodily deficiencies.

    I definitely like your idea of taking some time off to travel. I recall you telling me once that this was your 8th consecutive term on campus. For most Waterloo students, they get a bit of a break on their coop terms, but you have been at it continuously for almost 3 years. I think a few months where you didn’t take a single class would give you time to recover physically and mentally.

    As far as money goes I think you’ll manage. I would suggest you at least work part time during your break so you can support yourself financially. You’re a smart guy and you should have no problem finding good work.

    I myself am thinking of taking a little break either next term or the Winter term next year. I would love to live somewhere like Paris or Zurich in Europe. I’d get a cheap place to live and do photography and caricatures for money. I could also take one or two math courses at a local university to stay sharp. An added bonus would be to become well versed in a foreign language.

    I know what you may be thinking right now; “I definitely want to do this, but maybe in a year because I have to take that very important course next term”. Well, that’s fine, but realize that that time may never come, or you may have told yourself that before. Remember that we are still very young and you are already at a way above-average level for a math undergrad. A term off from University will not likely become an obstacle in the future, but an asset.

    As far as alcohol goes, I think that’s a personal choice. I have also never had any alcohol in my life. It was originally for religious reasons, but now I just don’t have any interest. People can do whatever they want, but in my opinion I think it’s very irresponsable of people to deliberately consume a substance that puts them at a very high risk of doing something very stupid. I don’t think I’m missing out on anything.

    Wow, this ended up being way longer than I wanted it to be. Hopefully I was able to express my ideas in an understandable way.

  2. Rafid Hoda says:

    I read this interesting discussion on math.stackexchange a couple of months ago that I think you might like

  3. dcmshi says:

    Hope you get better. I know it feels like a chore to eat properly and exercise regularly. But starting something is usually the most difficult part, once you work it in to your lifestyle it will eventually feel more natural. Just make an effort to stick with it. You are a very hard-working individual, incredibly passionate about what you do, and I want you to be able to enjoy those things for as long as you want.

  4. mlbaker says:

    Thanks a lot for your comments, guys. Rafid, I think you’re the first person to leave a comment on this blog that’s significantly longer than the post you left it on 😛

  5. hehsaan says:

    Yo. I think exercise is a really good thing. Being active actually affects your mental state too. I’ve been exercising a lot more recently and I always have more energy, motivation, and even self-confidence.

    Trying going for a 10 minute run every other day. I think it will really help, especially because it gives you time to yourself. It doesn’t take much time. You have access to the treadmills in PAC (it’s included in your tuition!) and you’re allowed to spend as much time as you want there.

    If 10 minutes sounds like too long, that’s fine! Just run for as long as you want, and your time will increase over time. Taking a break from math is a good thing, believe it or not.

    Also, alcohol is overrated. I like it personally, but I think people make a big deal about nothing. Don’t worry about that.

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