The Tipping Point

At what point do you decide that you just can’t carry on with something? You’ve given everything that you could have and there’s still no way out? At what point do you give up?

My early twenties have been a struggle. I know some people have struggled a lot more than I have, but there are many who have made better choices. Well thought out ones. There’s something very skilled about making sensible choices. Heck, there exists an entire education system and career revolving around the very concept of ‘management’. There has to be a good science behind it.

So to what point can one stick to a romantic idealistic view of the world? After what point is it more foolish than moralistic to be “who you are”, when clearly, you’re not fitting into the society’s expectations? Isn’t change the only constant? According to Darwinian theory, I must alter the trait that goes against my survival prospects in the society. If I had to describe myself in a sentence; I’m whimsical, eccentric, emotional, sensitive, non-intrusive, helpful, capricious and crazy. And that’s not helping.

During college I had some more qualities. I did what was expected out of a good student. I studied. I got good grades. I participated in extra curriculars. Made good friends. I also explored a lot of ideas to pursue, but never really found anything that caught my eye.

At this point, I know what I want to pursue, but I’ve let all of those other qualities die down, due to situations that arose in my life. I won’t be immature and simply blame the situation without taking responsibility for my own downfall. Yes, bad things happened to me, but I also did not take timely measures to rectify them. At this point I can only look at the chain of events that have transpired, as a lesson. I think I am better prepared for my future.

***

Some times people come into your life, and you’re perplexed about where to place them. They put you on a pedestal. They start giving more than you could have asked for, without ever being asked for it. You don’t quite understand what it is in your personality that they see that makes them act that way. Maybe it was never you, maybe it’s just a picture that they were trying to paint.

You suddenly see yourself swayed by your emotions. The intensity of the stimuli is blinding. And yet, you are actually curious to see that very picture being painted. Splashed with colors in a haphazard fashion. You try to makes sense out of chaos. Find structure in randomness. Mathematical models rarely exist for extreme phenomena.

So at what point do you realize that you can’t make sense out of what has turned into a mess? I have an inquisitive mind. It torments me when I can’t find the solution to a problem. But even the simplest problems don’t have solutions sometimes. For a linear equation

Ax = b

a solution does not exist if b does not lie in the span of the column space of A.

There are heuristic methods to solve this. We can try to go as close to the solution as possible.

argmin_x || Ax-b ||

Okay, so the heuristic approach depends on the basis that an iterative minimization of the distance of the given solution from the actual solution converges. Of course, this is a good approach; if you know that conflict can’t be resolved, at least minimize it.

To solve norm minimization problems is computationally hard. What makes it harder is when you add a rather important positive variable. Add that to the objective function, and the algorithm never converges. What do you do now? Trying to find a solution to a problem whose solution just does not converge?

You go back to the problem statement. What if it’s an ill-posed problem? What if I had made all the wrong assumptions to begin with? Do I still break my head solving the wrong problem?

***

To end this rather excruciating session of self questioning, I’d like to mention something my boyfriend Drake had mentioned to me ages ago. He had told me that he’s with me because he wants to be with me. Not because he needs to be with me. I think that’s a sign of a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship is when you’re able to function well even when your partner isn’t around. Your partner’s presence adds to your life. It does not compensate for the lack of something else. That’s true love. Peaceful coexistence. Now, many people have different definitions of love and attachment, but this one appeals more to me. The difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’ is the locus of control. When you’re emotionally dependent on someone else, you give that someone immense control on your life. Why should you give someone else control over consequences that only you have to bear? Isn’t that a way of running away from taking responsibility of your own well being and happiness?

***

Funnily enough, you can’t really estimate the tipping point unless things tip over. And so, here’s hoping, that with the end of this post, the situation has indeed tipped over.

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