January 8th, 2013
The incredible amount of aggression that drives people around me is just astounding. I see it not only in professors yearning to get tenure, but in students targeting to get that perfect grade, graduating students yearning to get that perfect job, fellow gym buddies targeting to lose those pounds and attain the perfect figure, and so on. An acquaintance recently told me that he applied for a hundred different jobs while he is completing his PhD. Even if he was exaggerating, I am sure the number was no less than fifty. Now how many jobs do you need at the end of the day? Just one.
What worries me about aggression is the fact that I don’t think I have enough of it in me. I mean, I am still doing the things that I wanted to, living independently, (still) getting an education, driving a car, traveling the world, applying for jobs, and trying to lose those extra pounds at the gym. However, I am only too happy to smell the roses, wake up to a carefree life, enjoy the sun and the breeze, take pictures, write a poem or two, and watch that favorite movie again and again. I try not to live life off a checklist- Visit Paris. Run a marathon. Shed 20 pounds before Christmas. Get a $125k/year job. You get the picture, right?
In life, it is very important to push oneself beyond one’s comfort zone. We would never have been what we are if we did not leave our comfort zones, pushed ourselves to excel, learned that new programming language, run that new statistical analysis, and so on. But how do we decide what is pushing oneself and what is being aggressive? Where do we draw the line? I am not assigning a value or a judgment to being aggressive. But I worry about what if it is not in me? What if being happy go lucky turns out to be intellectually fatal? I wonder if it is specifically a trait for people working in the US, or if my brethrens in other parts of the world feel the aggression building in them too. And while I mull over this, I know it is time to polish up that CV, publish another research paper, go to another conference, start networking aggressively, get a paid membership at LinkedIn, spend a fortune on formal clothes, anything to get myself a job here. Preferably a very high paying job.
And as usual, we run out of life as we struggle to make a living.