Dear Lana,

I was thinking about how if I worked harder in undergrad, I would have been able to accomplish so much more now. Then, I am remined of the concept of brain fog today, and I remember when I wasn’t able to work as hard as I wanted to.

I notice that I have some trouble concentrating approximately two hours after I wake up. Most of the time, it extends until noon, perhaps returning sometime in the late afternoon. It takes the form of a mild lightheadedness and nausea, where I am hindered from fully utilizing my concentration capabilities. In the face of brain fog, I cannot do what I set out to do. I am unable to concentrate even for short periods of time because any information I intake would flow out of my head as if nothing had happened at all.

In the face of this phenomena, I noticed that it is best to just wait around for the brain fog to pass, when I am more capable of studying or doing work. It is quite a passive existence.

I wonder if brain fog is the phenomenon that separates relative achievement in people to their circumstances. I remember in a lecture that I attended, Angela Duckworth said something along the lines that if you work 80 hours a week at anything, you will be successful at what you do. I was thinking how much 80 hours a week was, and I realize that it’s a lot. I mean genuinely working 80 hours a week, as opposed to being required to sit around and passively exist for 80 hours a week. When was the last time I genuinely worked 80 hours on anything? Most of the time, I would get brain fog, and then I would stop working.

I remember last summer during this time, I spent so long studying on top of my internship. It was primarily motivated by stress, and I observed that in periods of stress I have very little brain fog. I would just go to work in the morning, and go home in the evenings. I would study when I had down time at work, and I would study when I got back home from work. I studied so much that summer, and I learned so much as a result. It was harder than I had studied for any class during undergrad. Yet, after OCR, I don’t think I ever studied that much ever again. There’s little stress to motivate me, and I’m just wallowing around in brain fog for most of my free time.

If I worked as hard right now as I worked that summer, I would be able to accomplish so much in my life. The problem is — I don’t really want to work as hard as I did that summer. Of course there is such thing as hard work, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that hard work is only possible in absence of brain fog. When you have brain fog, you cannot work as hard as you want to work. The attempt to challenge brain fog through working hard doesn’t actually accomplish anything. It’s not like a challenge like being tired is. You cannot work your way through brain fog. All you can do is observe it. I’m not particularly up for the challenge to overcome brain fog, so I just wait around for it to end before doing anything.