He said: “We lived without conflict as if our two souls were one.”
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A reminder to thank the god of small blessings.
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This system is exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, perpetuating privilege, and creating an elite that is isolated from the society that it’s supposed to lead.
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The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things.
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But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top.
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I’d been told that successful applicants could either be “well-rounded” or “pointy”—outstanding in one particular way—but if they were pointy, they had to be really pointy: a musician whose audition tape had impressed the music department, a scientist who had won a national award.
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Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.
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So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk.
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Experience itself has been reduced to instrumental function, via the college essay.
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Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
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We shouldn’t see ourselves as archaeologists, minutely studying each feeling and trying to dig deep into the unconscious. We should see ourselves as literary critics, putting each incident in the perspective of a longer life story. The narrative form is a more supple way of understanding human processes, even unconscious ones, than rationalistic analysis.
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We are better self-perceivers if we can create distance and see the general contours of our emergent system selves rather than trying to unpack constituent parts.
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Depressed ruminators end up making themselves more depressed.
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Rumination is like that middle-of-the-night thinking when the rest of the world is hidden by darkness and the mind descends into a spiral of endless reaction to itself.
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When people examine themselves from too close, they often end up ruminating or oversimplifying.
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