On Being

Go to a hackathon and ask someone if they’re a hacker. You’re just as likely to find a beginner as an expert. They’re often very inclusive. Good.

Now go to a chess tournament. Everyone there will tell you that they are, indeed, a chess player. The air is stale. And there is no corporate swag.

Artist, engineer, lawyer, teacher, construction worker, runner, mother, video gamer. The best pour their heart and soul into their craft. It’s an identity, not a weekend.

When you tell me that you’re a student at __ studying __, my ears play this funny trick where they hear “I’m human” and that’s all.

When MIT undergraduates use “Department of” to sign their emails, I ask are you Asu Ozdaglar, Anne Hunter, or Ron Rivest?

I can’t hold a candle to Magnus or Hou Yifan. But when I tell you I’m a chess player, it’s not a knee-jerk thing. It goes deep, and it doesn’t leave in June four years later.

Marketing your art is wonderful. Introduce me to your art. I want to know your art.

But I don’t want to know your title. I don’t want to know your current social badge for its sake alone. Tell me something new about humans. Tell me something old.

Not sure? Awesome. If you can admit it, then you’re thoughtful. You meet all the prereqs. Just follow Lucy’s lead.

If you want to be, then you must do. You must do, day in and day out. Until suddenly in retrospect you were all along.


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