Touch some grass. Get a life.

The Wandering Engineer
8 min readJan 1, 2024

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Just putting some of my thoughts out there after coming back to this Canadian winter hellscape from Hawaii. It was a trip I planned a whopping 3 days in advance. I’ve never had the courage to do this in the past. But here I am, and I don’t regret a single bit.

As electronics become prevalent over the years, and cheap on-screen entertainment becomes common, I see fewer and fewer people going outside. More young people are becoming anti-social, shut-ins, or socially anxious from being chronically online. The pandemic made it multitudes worse.

More young people are lonely now than ever. Approximately 20% of people do not have a single friend. More than half of young adults (under age 30) do not have a romantic partner or are not currently dating. You hear countless people complaining about their dating struggles or the lack of dating life, which I talked about in other blog posts.

Furthermore, younger generations in the West are no longer gaining the coming-of-age experiences that past generations have had — driving, travelling, dating, being outdoors, playing team sports, socializing, partying, joining clubs… All because it is easier to sit at home scrolling on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

As this is an engineering blog, engineers, in particular, always seem to have this stereotype of being the lonely nerd who just sleeps, studies, or works, doesn’t have a friend, and only plays video games in their free time. As an engineer myself, we need to change that image. You need to touch some grass and get a life.

Whether you want to blame it on electronics, social media, online dating, or pop culture, you can only change yourself. Only you can go out and get a life that works for you. Having gone through this process myself, I will share you some tips.

Why should you get a life?

Constantly grinding and working hard without other hobbies is a recipe for burnout, unless you’re someone like Elon Musk, David Goggins, or Nikola Tesla. Studies have shown that average worker productivity actually increases when there is a slight decrease in work hours. People are more productive when they work less.

Working like that is detrimental to your mental health (especially when combined with inadequate sleep/exercise and eating poorly), and is a good recipe for long-term health issues and dying young. I’ve seen this cycle repeat in too many people in finance and tech/engineering.

There was a time when I was pretty much a shut-in. I did nothing else outside of school and studying, had very few friends, and only played video games in my downtime. In the end, I was depressed, socially anxious, unmotivated, and unproductive. In high school, I changed things up and started partying, joining clubs and sports teams, and socializing. Interestingly, my grades went up substantially which got me into top universities and scholarships. I got fit, I made friends, and my mental health drastically improved.

However, when the pressure of university studies got to me, I slipped back to my old state of being a shut-in, only doing schoolwork, and my grades and mental health took a nosedive. I lost a lot of friends during that time as well. When I got out of it again, everything went well again, my grades shot up, I got a desirable job, I made new friends and went on dates, I got fit again, and I became much happier. It worked like magic.

I see the same story over and over again in my peers. The more they worked (or the more they shut themselves in), the more miserable they became, and their life slowly fell apart in many cases. The pandemic lockdowns made it multitudes worse and had many people struggling with mental health. When they worked less (but still working) and made the effort to go out and socialize, they were much happier and healthier. Whether their personality is introverted or extraverted, conscientious or not, did not matter, it was like that for almost everyone.

Life is much more than just working, staying at home, or being chronically online. Too many people are working themselves to death, or completely shutting themselves in because of cheap electronic entertainment options and live in the virtual world. They are disconnected from reality.

Also, social media is not reality. Despite being intended to connect people together, it makes people more disconnected. It is an echo chamber where people showcase their highs and lows. Too many people today are chronically on social media and have a distorted sense of reality.

I think it is a major contributing factor to the mental health crisis today which I discussed in my other posts. Humans are social animals after all, whether you are introverted or extraverted, everyone needs social interaction and live in the real world to be healthy.

Nobody remembers how much they worked or saved on their deathbed. They will remember the life they lived, the places they travelled, the new experiences they had, and the people they met.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

— Steve Jobs

Many more people today are living a life without purpose. They follow the crowd, do things deemed as “popular” or “cool” to fit in, or they are doing what they are being told by their parents or peers. They subscribe to the herd mentality.

They also chase after things such as money, recognition/fame (clout), sex and relationships, happiness (dopamine), and external validation. They always live in fear of missing out or being seen as different.

These people are often miserable, and once they no longer feel a sense of belonging or accomplishment, they are shattered. They have no sense of identity and purpose, and they don’t know what they want. They are simply conforming to others’ expectations and filling their emptiness with instant gratification.

Although it looks like these people are not missing out on life, they are not living the life they want. They are living for someone else. They are living by society’s standards. They live in fear of the unknown and discomfort.

That was me for a long time. I did all those things for external validation (from my parents, to look cool to my peers, etc.). Although it led me to accomplish many things, I felt empty over time. In the end, I was anxious, depressed, lonely, and apathetic from chasing the wrong things.

Although I am still working on changing my mindset, I feel more at ease once I find a higher purpose and stop basing my satisfaction on my material accomplishments (money, job title, relationship status, social media popularity, etc.). I am trying to discover my own interests and not conform to other’s expectations. I am trying to live my own life, and not living for others.

Many aspects of life are talked about online and should be common sense. However, if you really want to start living life, you need to f***ing do it. Don’t just sit at home and be afraid of changing your current way of living because it feels uncomfortable.

Get over your fears and step out of your comfort zone! A lifetime can go by quickly, and I’ve seen far too many people stuck in their routines, not doing anything interesting, and regretting their choices when they’re too old and about to die.

Anyways, let’s quickly go over some things I did to make my life more interesting.

  • Stop chasing dopamine — I believe this is the root of all evil and the cause of many of our mental health problems now. From electronics to social media, junk food/sugar, drugs/substances, and many other things, there are too many easy ways to chase dopamine and escape reality. It is the main cause for people to become shut-ins and anti-social. Look to my mental health post to see how to dopamine detox.
  • Stop chasing — Whether that’s money, fame, relationships, a promotion, happiness, or validation, you need to rid that mindset of chasing for things. It is a scarcity mindset and you are simply becoming a slave to these things. It will only lead to misery, emptiness, and a lack of life purpose. Instead, you should work on yourself, become the best version of yourself, and allow these things to come to you. Focus on the process, not the result.
  • Develop a purpose — Again, you need to stop basing your value on materialistic accomplishments (e.g., money and status), and develop a higher purpose. I believe everyone came down to Earth for a reason, whether that is learning, self-discovery, helping others, finding peace, or seeking a relationship with God, you should be driven by your higher purpose, and not by the materialistic world around you.
  • Develop healthy interests — Everyone should have interests, but these interests should connect you with the real world and connect you with other people, not take you away from it. There are many interests that are healthy and don’t involve being a shut-in (ahem video games and porn). You also need to try different things to find those interests. Nobody is born with interests. How will you be able to find these interests if all you do is stay at home and scroll on a smartphone?
  • Be content being alone — Too many people are needy and are seeking a sense of belonging and social validation. It leads to a feeling of loneliness. However, loneliness does not equate to being alone, and you need to find peace in being alone (whether you’re extroverted or introverted). Learn to do things on your own, whether that is pursuing your interests, travelling and exploring, or learning and reflecting. Once you’re okay with being alone, finding other people becomes easier.
  • Be social — Humans are social animals after all, whether you like it or not. Although it seems contradictory to my previous point, you still need to put yourself out there to be with others. Long-lasting social relationships are built from common interests and people finding value in you. It is not something you can merely seek. To get to that point, you need to have already worked on yourself and have something to offer, whether it is a common interest, skills, or a good time.
  • Help others — Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, you’re probably privileged. You’re sitting in a nice warm place, scrolling on your smartphone or computer with Internet access. Despite how dire you think your situation is now, many others are less fortunate than you right now. The world needs your help. We all play a part in making our world a better place. Go help someone in need. Trust me, you’ll feel happier.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone / Spontaneity — Too many people stick to the same routine throughout their lifetime — same job, same schedule, same partner, living in the same city… They live in fear of change. Although I believe everyone needs some stability in their life, you need to go out of your comfort zone and experience different aspects of life. Make time to try new things, travel, meet new people, and seek new experiences. Life is too short to be spent doing the same thing every day. In essence, be a little spontaneous and do some things unplanned.

Life is full of surprises. However, it is up to you to discover them and live them. You get nowhere by sitting at home and playing video games all day, or chasing after the dollar sign, social media likes, and men/women/sex.

We live in this physical world, and we only get one chance to live (as most people seem to believe anyway). Get in touch with the real world, and make the most out of it.

Go out and be the person you want to be, and live life on your terms. Humans are adaptable and flexible — don’t limit yourself and believe that you cannot change.

Touch some grass. And get a life.

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