What do you want to do with your life?


When you are at the end of your PhD, you get asked this question a lot. It’s actually more challenging to explain what I want to do after my thesis than it is to explain what my thesis is about. I mean, my initial response is, “man, I just need to get through the week.” The uncertainty certainly causes some anxiety, but if anything was for sure, I know I’m not going for a tenure track faculty position, nor do I wish to move out of the San Francisco bay area.

So, what options do I have?

  • be employed by craigslist odd jobs, random web consulting/development, and/or as a lecturer for community college
  • actually try to be a consultant for some rich corporation
  • work as an indie game developer
  • work for a big publisher or game studio as either a researcher or developer
  • become a journalist/writer
  • get an MBA, Post Doc, or some other Masters at Stanford or Berkeley
  • marry rich and play saxophone
  • run this non-profit organization like there’s no tomorrow!

My adviser says that my strengths are in casting the vision and producing the resources, but I have trouble connecting two together. I’ve managed to fill that middle gap, for myself, with some combination of faith and naiveté; however, it’s not enough to convince others, whether thesis committee or crowd funders.


Since this post appeals to neither thesis committee nor investors, I will do what I do best, cast vision:

This is what I want to live for:

  1. I believe that, perhaps, all the ills of the world are rooted by one tragic misunderstanding– that love is, not only finite, but scarce, and we all must be careful to invest it appropriately or ration whatever it is we can get. I want everyone in the world to love extravagantly, generously, and to understand that, regardless of the circumstances we’ve been given, we have access to unlimited supplies of love– that love is a choice, and nothing can take that choice from us.
  2. I will make an even stronger claim that symptoms of fearfully rationing love include: depression, poverty, and slavery. Love does not only bring purpose and hope, but such love would also feed the hungry and liberate girls who would’ve otherwise been objectified in the worst ways imaginable.
  3. The byproduct of nondiscriminatory and unlimited love is a sense of duty. With whatever influence we are given, we are responsible to steward: our education, our skills, our treasures, our time, our social networks, our technology, our voice, our story to be the hope that we fail to see. After all, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

So what am I stewarding?

  • An eventual PhD in Computer Science
  • Teaching experience
  • Programming experience
  • Game development experience
  • A network of the worlds most creative, intelligent, entrepreneurial, and privileged individuals
  • An unusual threshold for doing stuff that no one else feels like doing

I remember when I was doing my undergrad at University of Delaware, reading the school newspaper, it informed me that if I didn’t see anyone else wearing something, than I shouldn’t be wearing it either. The fashion police was being proactive that season. I, however, have little reverence for any sort of normal police.

It’s simple. I cannot live in a world less than the one I believe is possible; therefore, I will efficiently use all I can acquire towards something better. I do occasionally feel like I’d be happier if I didn’t care, but being that the alternative is to do nothing, I cannot debase my own rationality on the matter– It’s either all or nothing.

Trying is far less futile than not trying.

…And for all you game theorists out there, love, as a strategy and payoff, is no prisoner’s dilemma; for how can we truly know our Nash equilibrium, unless enough people choose not to defect?


The Nash equilibrium of Prisoner’s Dilemma is for everyone to defect, b/c even if cooperation gives a higher payoff, you could always get more by defecting. I propose that, in the case of life, choosing to cooperate is, not only, socially optimal, but also the dominant strategy, making it no longer a dilemma.

6 responses to “What do you want to do with your life?

  1. Love is the wrench in the cogs of rational self-interest-based behavior. Its a type of faith! Choosing cooperation, sometimes blindly, because the simple act of cooperating rather than defecting is love. It’s such an exposure to the softest, most tender part of ourselves. And I suppose what you’re saying is that, for the world, the game is not to seek the most self-advantageous strength and resilience, but rather to engage the most people in cooperation, in love.

    It does seem too easy to defect, or to simply not care and view love as a finite and scare element of the world. Sherol, lets make it a goal to show people that they’re playing the wrong game. Our cooperation in expressing love is certainly infinite. The more people who realize this and play the “irrational” compassionate strategy, the more they will feel the rewards of love, and the more everybody wins!

  2. @bmb, Yea David! I think you put it best, when you said: “lets make it a goal to show people that they’re playing the wrong game.”

    Another way to put it is that: the way Prisoner’s Dilemma is setup, defecting is the dominant strategy. I’m willing to claim that cooperation is not only the most socially optimal (as it yields the highest sum of payoffs), but that cooperation IS the dominant strategy. There is no dilemma…PERIOD.

    So, Reclaim International, Academic Bridges, Outside-the-Box, or whatever it is we are calling it.. I’d like to accomplish aforementioned points 1, 2 and 3.

  3. Very nice article…*beam* *beam* i was especially touched with the section this is what i want to live for 1,2,3….
    A recent study by scientists on 846 respondents who were majorly stressed and had lots of psychological problems and stress showcased that the more a sample of respodents were given tasks to be philanthropic or more giving or in helping people the more their condition improved.
    Bottomline!…the more we dedicated our lives into giving to others starting with God the more happier we will be.@bmb5220 engaging the most people in love is the way to go…@ffpaladin let us achieve goals 1,2,3 girl…ti hi hi.

  4. @kevin,

    Hah!.. thanks. I feel “majorly stressed” a bit myself. I’m trying to finish school and it’s become a bit alienating. My 1, 2, 3’s can be alienating too, b/c not many people are quite so vocal about stuff like that. HOWEVER, if everyone avoids doing the hard stuff, then many things would never be accomplished… So, i guess things are only tough for a season, and I should be ok soon 🙂

  5. @ffpaladin i feel you my sister…toggling in between study,publications,internet,research,projects,philanthropy and being an artist is majorly distressing….but i promise seasons of refreshing will occur soon…*beam* *beam*
    i.o.n here is a beta version of our wasanii mtaani site,we will complete it soon——> http://bit.ly/WVlQUw plus here is a campaign project that i initiated on indiegogo,though i didn’t reach my funding goal it was worth the effort——> http://bit.ly/O0DYbC
    So if you need a some really nice traditional beats,african sounds,some hip hop rhymes all packaged into some nice perks mixed with jazz on indiegogo you know who to work with…ha ha ha.

  6. Pingback: I Feel Okay Being Myself because of Brenda Romero | ThoughtfulPlay ^_^·

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