I copied this post that I made on 2+2 in response to KB24's thread "Question to HS guys: Perspective on life before and after becoming rich?" My blog seems an appropriate place for this reflection.
When I was broke, I just wanted to be rich. I didn't care
about much else. I was also not a very happy person.
I did the poker thing for a while, though I stopped really
loving it after the first few months or so. I love the friends I have made
through poker, and the opportunities it has given me, but I was never a huge
fan of playing the game full time. As a hobby or a part time gig I think it is
great, and I am looking forward to playing some over my xmas break, but I do
not regret in any way doing what I am doing now.
I coached baseball for 1 season in 2009. It was one of the
best things I have ever done. I fondly reflect on the memories I created there
and the relationships I built with my players and my fellow coaches. I look
forward to doing something like that again in the future. I spent the next 2
years at a small liberal arts school studying classics and philosophy. I always
sucked at reading and writing so I figured going this route would help. It did,
though I am still not particularly great at either. I took part in an economics
study group while at St. John's College (that small liberal arts school) and my
interest for the topic grew. I decided I got what I needed out of a program
dedicated almost entirely to classics and philosophy and it was time for a
change. I applied to as a transfer student to 12 programs because I had no idea
where I could get in. I ran pretty good here IMO.
I started at Columbia 3 months ago, and am studying Chinese
language/culture (Mandarin) and political science for my major/minor. I am
taking a few economics and math courses because I am not particularly good at
higher level math and feel like having some foundation there will be helpful in
some way I can't really explain. Next semester I am taking a classics course
because what the hell right, I enjoy it still. After that I will work in some
computer science since I know absolutely nothing about that. This summer I am,
for the first time since I turned 21 (18 really, though I only played cash
games for my pre-21 years), saying fuck the WSOP. I am doing an intensive
language program in Beijing. Hopefully I attain some level of language
proficiency by the time I graduate. My goal is not to specialize in any
particular field, but to study a broad range of topics that I am interested in
and that will give me options in the future.
I have no idea what I want to do, who I want to be, or how I
want to live. I like language. I am pretty good at ancient Greek and catching
on to this Chinese thing pretty quick. I would like to learn Spanish at some
point as well so I can cover the top 3 languages spoken in the world. Why? I
don't really know, but 'because it is interesting' is good enough for me at the
moment. I don't have any aspirations of changing the world, but if I can for
the better, I would feel pretty good about it.
I have invested a large portion of what I have won playing
poker in a few startups that show some pretty awesome potential. I could be
throwing it away, but at worst I learn something about each business and can
bring a more well-rounded understanding to my future endeavors. At best, well,
I make some money in addition to my learning experience. I still plan to play
poker in the future, but never as a full time job. A few years ago I think it
was the best thing for me. I no longer think this is the case.
Like many of us, I like spending money on fancy dinners.
Dining experiences are some of my best memories, almost always shared with my
closest friends. I watch Boardwalk Empire and I think it is awesome, though I don't
spend a ton of time watching TV anymore. The Wire remains my favorite TV
series, followed closely by the West Wing (at least the first few seasons). I
stopped watching Dexter in the middle of season 3. I don't like clubbing, but I
enjoy having some drinks with friends while actually being able to communicate
intelligibly. I don't play any instruments, but I sang fairly seriously for ~12
years, and I often think about getting back into it. I always enjoyed it quite
a bit and the only reasons I create for not doing it are lame excuses.
Do I have some magical perspective on life? No. Do I think I
am a much improved person from 5 years ago? Yes. 2 years ago? Yes. My goal is to
always be improving in some way. I still don't think I am a super happy person,
but my overall attitude towards happiness and life has vastly improved over the
last few years. Like SlowHabit, I try to value my happiness very highly. I take
the long term approach to this and try to avoid a hedonistic attitude. I still
eat cupcakes because they are delicious, but I try to maintain a pretty healthy
diet overall because it makes me feel good. I hit the gym a couple times a week
and play basketball as often as I can because I love it. The gym feels like
work at the time, but after I feel great, and those feelings continue
throughout the rest of the day, even if the workout itself is temporary
suffering (and it is rarely that bad).
This is what works best for me: I try to project myself into
the future, looking back on my life. I try to make decisions that would make
that person smile thinking back on life's memories. Will I achieve that? I don't
know, but right now I think it is the best thing I can do.