This Week I Learned…How To Start A Blog

  1. I think my life is cool
  2. I want to be a better writer
  3. I want to share my real-time prefrontal, Ph.D., and personal development

If you told me on December 31, 2021 that my 2023 new year resolution was to start a blog, I would not have believed you.

But if you told me that on December 31, 2022, I would run a 10,000 meter race in Rome, I would not have believed you either.

10K race in Rome 31/12/2022

And if you told on December 31, 2017 I would be doing a Ph.D. on internet memes in Italy, I would have laughed in your face.

The point is that life is consistent change. A series of micro-level actions that compound into major shifts in 1-year, 5-year, or 10-year scales. The power to re-direct life is in the ability to harness the micro-level changes that happen every day. Every day is an chance to get 1% better or fall under the illusion of “staying the same”. In 2023, I will harness this knowledge to venture into the blogging world.

Blogging is not just a hobby from 2013. It’s a platform to mobilize knowledge, build a network of interested readers, share long-from content on social media, and most importantly a profitable industry. But, here are three more personal reasons I’m starting a blog this year.

1. I think my life is cool

My life’s trajectory is unbelievable. I can trace it back to a proxy war between USA and the USSR in 1970s Ethiopia and my pregnant mother’s lucky visit to the United States Embassy in 1998.

The Early Years

In October 1998, I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Three months later, my mother left to work in the United States. It took her seven years to successfully file a green card for me and my father to join her in California. So near the end of my critical period for language acquisition, I moved to San Jose, California. I went from a semi-homogeneous culture to one of the most diverse counties in America. The magnitude of culture shocks I experienced in this development window changed my brain, worldview, and perspective forever.

Even though I attended the local public schools, I met some amazing teachers who really shaped my future. And I met some not-so amazing teachers who gave me something to prove. I tried hard to maintain my connection to my Ethiopian roots while learning how to be an American teenager. This struggle for personhood along with my innate observation skills sparked an early interest in human psychology and philosophical questioning.

Fast Forward 10-Years: First-Gen College Student

I attended college in one of the best and beautiful research universities in California: UC Santa Cruz. On the first day, I picked cognitive science as my major and I never changed. Instead, I added philosophy as a second major after taking just one class. I followed this path until the end, getting completely wrapped up in psycholinguistics, logic, and philosophy of mind. When I had the opportunity in my third year, I went abroad to Maastricht, Netherlands in 2019. I officially studied philosophy (and wrote my first academic paper on internet memes in my philosophy of language course), but I learned way more outside of the classroom. As I travelled around Europe, I began to see myself living there, identifying the possible opportunities to make my move. I returned to the United States excited to finish my final year of university and start the future I planned.

The Unprecedented Times

Then, the pandemic hit. All the opportunities I thought were mine were obliterated. So, I finished the last of my classes online, wrote my senior thesis “One Does Not Simply Define Memes”, and graduated on zoom in 2020. Then I sat. In my room. On my computer. Scouring the internet. Until I found it.

An international cognitive neuroscience Ph.D. program in Lucca, Italy with housing, food, and scholarship provided.

I moved to Lucca in November 2020 into a quarantine and red-zone lockdown. I stayed in Italy to watch the country and eventually the world open itself back again.

After intense first year courses, I began seriously investigating the cognitive science behind internet memes. And I learned some painful but necessary lessons about the Ph.D. experience, friendship, loneliness, habits, and health.

These stories and more are why I want to start my blog.

2. I want to be a better writer

My current relationship to writing is the same as my previous relationship to running. I am scared of it. I believe I don’t like it. I only do it when I need a good grade. I know how to do it but I don’t know how to do it the right way.

I learned to enjoy running by running the right way with Coach Bennett on the Nike Run Club app. Coach Bennett teaches that every run has a purpose and that every run should begin easy. Following his guidance, I’ve been able to run speed runs, long runs, fartlek runs, recovery runs, and even run my big race.

Although Nike doesn’t have a Writing Club app (🤔💡), I can to improve my relationship with writing following these steps:

  1. I am going to start writing (the most important but underrated step)
  2. I am going to start writing with an easy effort
  3. I am going to commit to writing consistently (I will post one blog post a week)
  4. I am going to write about a variety of things in a variety of formats
  5. Finally, I will celebrate the start and the finish (publish) line of each blog post the way I celebrate my runs

3. I want to document my development

As of January 01, 2023, I am 24-years old. That means I am in the last year of my prefrontal cortex development. Although humans are capable of learning and creating new neural pathways at any age, the rate in which my plastic brain and my experience of the world is changing is astonishing. I’m better understanding how to manage myself, my finances, my health, and my relationships.

In addition to my biological development, I am undertaking a Ph.D., the ultimate learning experience. For four years, my job is to push the limits of human knowledge. To do this, I learn new skills like natural language processing, read new theories like predictive coding, and produce new interdisciplinary knowledge through my projects.

Putting these two factors together, I am going through an immense personal development journey. One that had large ramifications for my future. I can’t go back in time to tell myself what has happened these past five years. But I can document my real-time development every week for my future self to look back on.

While I write for my future self, I hope I can reach an audience that resonate with my blog, especially young and talented black women who are interested in a Ph.D. abroad. And I hope blogging teaches me skills that opens more opportunities for the future.

We only get 4000 weeks in a lifetime. And for the next 52 weeks, I want to write to mark where I am and what I am learning with the hope that my future self and my possible readers appreciate what I write.

So that’s why this week, I learned how to start a blog.

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