31 Things You Need To Know About Me

31 Things You Need To Know About Me

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

That’s a great quote to tell yourself right before you do something that you might end up regretting.

Like getting ass naked and running down a relatively well-trafficked street.

Or, like voluntarily sharing a laundry list of your weird quirks and insecurities on the Internet for everyone to read.

Come to think of it, I guess there’s really not too much of a difference between those two things, and I’ve already done the first one, so fuck it.

This Is Me, Unfiltered

Throughout most of my life, I always tried my best to be the good, well-behaved kid that didn’t get into trouble.

mini me
I don’t know why I’m holding a rope… but it made me feel like a BADASS.

I tried my best to avoid disagreements and to keep my opinions to myself.

No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I always wanted everyone to like me. Even if I didn’t like them.

And when someone didn’t like me, it made me angry.

“Why don’t they like me? I didn’t even do ANYTHING to them. What’s WRONG with them?”

I’ve wasted so much mental energy replaying scenarios in my head, going over every single minor detail, worrying about what kind of an impression I made on people.

But within the last couple years, I’ve learned, and finally begun to internalize, a very important lesson: it’s impossible to please everyone.

It’s IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone. The sooner you accept that, the better off you’ll be. – Tweet This

Instead of trying to please everyone, we should focus on pleasing the RIGHT people—the people who share the same interests and motivations as us; the people who understand and relate to us; the people who support and inspire us.

The way you do that is by being more open, honest, and self-expressive. First with ourselves, and then with others.

This means that you have to be able to answer some questions for yourself, like…

  • What sorts of things are you actually interested in?
  • What sorts of things actually motivate you?
  • What sorts of things do you struggle with, time and time again?
  • Who do you genuinely enjoy spending time with?
  • Who are the people that inspire you?

Once you know the honest answers to these questions, then it’s simply about putting yourself out there.

Stop putting up a front.

Be more self-expressive and allow people to see you for who you really are—give them the chance to connect with you. 

This blog has been the perfect medium for me to do just that. Because of this blog, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many awesome, smart and ambitious people who share my obsession with self-improvement.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.47.12 AM
A weekly “mastermind” call I do with Zachary Sexton, Stephen Warley, and Thomas Frank

Two years ago, I was scared to talk about self-improvement to anyone I knew. People hear “self-improvement” and they instantly roll their eyes. It isn’t “cool” to talk about self-improvement.

And I get it. A lot of the motivational, self-improvement stuff out there today is really fucking annoying.

Just be yourself! Because you’re a unique, special snowflake that deserves nothing but the best! And as long as you’re smiling, everything is going to be okay!”

That shit doesn’t help anyone.

But, despite all the crap that’s out there, there’s also some REALLY GOOD stuff out there.

Getting into self-improvement has changed my life in just about every single way. In a very good way. And I continue to learn and grow and improve every single day. Not to say that I don’t constantly run into set backs along the way. I do. And I still struggle with a lot of the things that I write about on this blog. In fact, that’s a big part of the reason WHY I write about the things I write about—to help me hold myself more accountable.

But, it’s a never-ending work in progress. I might have a bad day, or a bad week, but no matter what, I keep on chugging along.

And I’ve finally reached the point where I don’t care if people think I’m weird for writing about self-improvement. It’s become a big part of my life and a big part of my identity.

That being said, it’s not my entire identity. It’s still just one aspect of my life.

I’m Not A “Self-Improvement Guru”

While the Internet is great in that it allows us to connect with anyone anywhere in the world at any moment, it is not so great in that it makes it all too easy to carve out just one aspect of our life and say “This is who I am.”

We’ve all heard of the “social media effect”—an obsession with making our lives look perfect on social media by presenting an idealistic version of ourselves.

In blogging, a similar problem arises. However, the problem isn’t necessarily that we’re trying to portray our ideal selves (though, that can still come into play), but instead, writers often put themselves into little boxes trying to fit the persona that their audience wants them to be. Or, that they think their audience wants them to be.

For example, having a self-improvement blog, I see all these other self-improvement blogs out there, and I often feel obligated to write only about certain topics and in a certain way. Many times I end up scrapping parts of my writing that aren’t “on topic.”

But, I’m more than a niche. I’m not a “self-improvement guru” (God, I hate that term).

I’m not that one-dimensional. No one is.

And even though my writing voice has improved significantly since I first started this blog, I still feel that there’s a part of me that I’ve never fully expressed here.

There’s likely a couple reasons behind that. Corbett Barr of Fizzle.co wrote an amazing post (which inspired me to write this one) explaining that there are two factors which keep us from fully self-expressing ourselves. I was going to try paraphrasing, but he’s a much better writer than I am so I decided it’s best left in his own words:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.15.20 PM
From Corbett’s post, “33 Things I’ve Never Told You.”

I think he hit the nail on the head.

Sure, part of the problem may stem from a lack of courage to be vulnerable enough to open up, but the other part of the problem is that it’s just not easy to fully, and accurately, express yourself in writing. I have a hard enough time doing it in-person, let alone in writing.

But, like Corbett says, it’s a learned skill. All it takes is practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more and more open about what I like and what I don’t like (still figuring some of these things out along the way), and by doing so, I’ve connected with so many amazing people that I never would have connected with otherwise.

But, I want to continue to push myself. I don’t want to come across with a watered-down personality. I want to be fully self-expressed (to the best of my ability), so that I can create deeper, more meaningful connections with the people I’m meant to connect with. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time by leading them on to believe I’m someone I’m not.

So, today I’m going to share some things with you that you may or may not know about me. Some of these things I’ve only ever shared with a few people in my life, but hopefully you’ll know more about the real me after reading this.

Here we go…

  1. I’m 22 years old, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been told that I acted older than I am. I’m the youngest of three, so I attribute it to that.
  2. My parents are both immigrants from Guatemala (the tiny country below Mexico). I know, I look super white, but I’m not. My Dad’s side does have Italian heritage, but it’s a couple generations back and no one in my family knows how to speak Italian. I do know how to speak Spanish—not very good, but enough to get by.
  3. I graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in May 2015, with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. I applied to USC sort of on a whim, but I never thought I would actually end up going to school there since it’s known for being so expensive. There was no way my parents could afford it, so it seemed out of the question. But, I unexpectedly ended up getting a half tuition scholarship and a few more smaller scholarships, so I accepted it.
  4. I have a lot of debt. Despite the scholarships, I still had to take out a lot of money in student loans. It didn’t concern me before because I always assumed I would end up rich one day, but now that I’m finally starting to pay them off I realize how absurd the cost of higher education is in the US.
  5. I used to want to be a millionaire, but I’m not really motivated by money anymore. My biggest motivation is to do something meaningful, to have the freedom to live on my own terms (money comes into play here, but it’s more of a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself), and to inspire others to do the same.
  6. I used to have a strange obsession with donuts. In 7th grade, we had a group project which required us to create an imaginary country and battle the other groups’ countries. My team made Donut Island. We ended up winning and I got so excited that I jumped up on the table in the middle of the classroom and started waving our donut flag like a mad man, until the teacher yelled at me to get down.
  7. I played soccer for most of my life. I started playing when I was 5 and played competitively up to and throughout high school. In college I played in intramural leagues until my sophomore year when I tore my lateral meniscus. Haven’t really played since then. I miss it a lot.
  8. I skateboarded for most of my life. I also started skateboarding when I was 5. I would skate with my older brother (who’s 7 years older than me) and his friends. Makes me laugh to think about a 6 year old skating with a bunch of teenagers. But I stopped skating in middle school, and then started longboardnig in high school, which was a ton of fun. Unfortunately, I also had to stop doing that after I tore my meniscus.

    Missing this. Loved that board!
  9. I don’t watch sports. As much as I keep telling myself that I should (mainly for social reasons), I have very little interest in doing so.
  10. I don’t play video games. Again, one of those things that I sometimes wish I did, just because so many people are into it, but I just don’t have any interest in doing so.
  11. I barely watch any TV. With a few exceptions.
  12. I love movies. My favorite genre is psychological thrillers (Inception, Shutter Island, Black Swan, Fight Club, to name a few), or comedies.
  13. I have a really bad nervous habit of twisting / pulling out my hair. It’s hard to describe, but if I don’t stop I’m going to end up having giant bald spots on my head. It’s embarrassing to talk about. I’ve never been a finger-nail biter, but I imagine it’s a similar type of habit.
  14. I’m in a very transitional period in my life right now. Two months ago, I broke up with my girlfriend, and last month, I quit my job. Both situations ended the best way they possibly could, and they were very eye-opening experiences that helped me learn A LOT about myself.
  15. I was in a fraternity in college. It was a crazy experience. I had a ton of fun and I’m glad I did it because it really helped me get out of my comfort zone. But, it’s really not my scene and by my senior year I was pretty much over it.

    Fall ’12. Living up the frat life.
  16. My freshman year at USC, I got caught breaking into the aquatic center and jumping off the high-dive at 2 AM. This was the same night (shortly after) that I went streaking. I may or may not have been slightly intoxicated.
  17. I like to drink. I did a lot of it in college, but I’ve slowed down a lot now. I can’t handle the hangovers anymore. I love having a beer or two and getting a nice buzz while having a good conversation, but I rarely get drunk these days.
  18. I was raised Catholic, and both of my parents are very religious, but I don’t associate with religion anymore. Unfortunately, this has strained my relationship with my parents a bit, but it’s slowly getting better.
  19. I’ve had chronic back pain for over a year now. It’s WAY better than it used to be, but I still have some minor pain almost every day. I’ve sort of just become used to it.
  20. I’m a sociable introvert. Meaning I’m an introvert, and I love spending time alone, but I also love going out and meeting new people. I just need to take a break and recharge my batteries after a long day of socializing.
  21. Writing is still really hard for me. I love to write, and people have always told me that I’m good at it, but it’s never come easy to me. Each post still takes me forever to write, and I’m always afraid that my posts aren’t good enough. But, I hit publish anyway.
  22. I hate drama.
  23. I compare myself to others way too much. Whenever I see someone else my age, or younger, doing something amazing, I get jealous. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.
  24. I wish I was smarter. I don’t think I’m that smart. I know so many people that are so much smarter than me. The truth is, I work hard, but I just try not to show it. For some reason, it’s not “cool” to show how hard you work. Which is STUPID. I want to change that.
  25. I was depressed in high school. I was never diagnosed with depression because I never went to a psychiatrist or anything, but I had some very dark times when I was trying to figure out what the point of everything was. I never really talk about it, but this is probably why I’m so into self-improvement today. Because I never want to be like that again.
  26. I don’t know if I’m a good person. I like to think I am, but everything is so relative. I’ve always found it difficult to know where to draw the line between looking out for yourself and being selfish. Sometimes I feel like I’m being selfish, but other times I feel like I’m not selfish enough.
  27. I might be the worst singer in the world. I’m incredibly jealous of anyone who can sing well. Maybe one day I’ll take a vocal class or something.
  28. I had a near death experience in Guatemala with my sister when I was 10. We were canoeing in a massive river called Rio Dulce, when suddenly the current picked up. We got pulled down the river, our canoe started sinking, and we ended up having to swim a couple hundred meters to the shore. I’m not the best swimmer and I was freaking out, but luckily my sister is a great swimmer. So, I clung onto the canoe while she swam us to shore. She saved my life.
  29. After graduating from USC, I went on a three week backpacking trip across Europe. It was one of the best experiences of my life. One of my biggest goals in the next 10 years is to become financially location independent and spend a couple years living in different countries.

    lessons learned from traveling
  30. I hate my hair. It’s super dry and frizzy. I wish I had silky smooth hair like my brother. (Maybe this is why I subconsciously pull it out…).
  31. I love my life and I’m confident I’ll be successful. Despite a less than perfect past and my many shortcomings and insecurities, I believe that as long as I continue on the path that I’m on and just keep working hard, it’ll all pay off. I’m still figuring things out (and I’m starting to believe that it’ll always be that way), but I’m not too concerned about the future. I’ve been trying to be more present lately, so I’m just taking life one day at a time. :)

Alright, I think I’ve confessed enough for now.

If I’ve offended you, or you just think I’m weird as hell now, thanks for reading anyway. I hope you find the right people for you elsewhere.

But, if you’ve identified with any of my strange quirks and insecurities, you should probably subscribe to my newsletter (just enter your email in the “Join My Newsletter” box below). It’s free and you’ll get updates sent straight to your inbox whenever I publish new articles, plus I’ll occasionally send you exclusive content not found on the blog.

Either way, at the very least, I hope this post has encouraged you to start expressing yourself more fully (both online and in real-life).

Writing this post felt great. You should really give it a try.

I’d love to hear a weird/fun/random fact about you—just leave it in the comments below! :) 

About Stefano

Stefano Ganddini

Hey there! I'm the creator of Collegetopia and the guy who writes all these articles. I'm here to help you live BIG, do EPIC shit, & be HAPPY. Click here to read more.

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  • Thank you Stefano. This was the post I needed to read.

    The way I am in real life, I say “crazy” things and talk in sort of a vulgar tone. I’m not afraid to talk about “inappropriate” topics like sex, drugs etc. And that’s how I write on my blog. But as a result, I received a disparaging e-mail, pretty much listing out why I SHOULDN’T write in a “revealing” way and that writing that way would hurt my chances at success in the future. I even decided that I’m going to “tone it down.” Realized that was bullshit.

    Also, I loved this:
    “But, I want to continue to push myself. I don’t want to come across with a watered-down personality. I want to be fully self-expressed (to the best of my ability), so that I can create deeper, more meaningful connections with the people”

    Just like how in life, we’re not going to get along with everyone. Better to put ourselves out there, have some people LOVE us and have haters than have shallow, mediocre relationships. And with writing, we’re having building relationship with the reader.

    This was probably my favorite post you’ve written so far. Because it shows who you truly are, underneath the mask of the internet. Keep it up man!

    • Thanks, Jeff! Glad to hear you found this post so helpful :)

      By the way, I just checked out your site and I LOVE the changes you’ve made. I can totally see your personality shining through, and it’s great to see that you’re writing again. On the topic of “toning it down,” I obviously don’t want you to do that, but I will say that you should be very careful with the words you choose to use and how they might be interpreted–especially when talking about very touchy subjects. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and have strong opinions, but just make sure you’re smart about it.

  • Aida Ganddini

    Very nice post about yourself. So many things we did not know about you!. You are a good writer and you will continue to develop and grow as you discover so many opportunities lfe has to offer. You are moving upward and breaking the eggshell of conventional thinking; moving into the upward spiral of continuous improvement. The the new worlds that you still have to discover. Keep looking upward and listen to the signal from Above. Decode the message like a transponder. Look up, be grateful and move forward on your continuous improvement process, for that is what life is all about “Every end is a new beginning!. Seize the day “Carpe Diem”

    • Thank you, Mita! I’m trying my best to seize each day more fully. I think the problem with a lot of conventional thinking is that is causes people to live their lives in fear. I don’t think anyone wants to be “normal,” but most people are too scared of what other people will think of them if they do something “not normal.” It’s only when you stop doing what you think you’re supposed to do and stop saying what you think you’re supposed to say that you’re able to show the world who you really are and live a more fulfilling life.

  • Steve

    Damn, number 25 really resonated with me. I never told anyone about my depression in high school, not even my parents (who I’m very close with). My mom had no idea until I told her while visiting home last semester. As much as I loved listening to the music of Nirvana my junior year, I think it might’ve accentuated my depression. “You Know You’re Right” was the song I would always listen to when I felt like shit and didn’t want to wake up the next time I went to sleep.

    • I didn’t tell my parents either until pretty recently. Funny you mention music– for me it was Kid Cudi. His songs felt comforting at the time, but looking back, I think it might have made it worse for me too. It’s kind of strange now because I still love all his songs from the Man on the Moon albums, but they also remind me of those darker times.

  • Sara C.

    First, your blog is awesome. Second, thanks for doing this. I cannot tell you how related I feel to this, because I always keep my views and opinions to myself because I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m trying to be more open, and posts like this one, really help and motivate me. So, here are some random facts about me:
    I also have the habit of twisting my hair and it sucks, because I ruin my curls. I’ve thought about carrying a piece of play-dough so I can get my fingers busy.
    I love MOOC’s. For me it’s just awesome to learn about whatever I want, from my house and for FREE.
    I speak Spanish and English, the first one being my mother tongue (I’m from Venezuela).
    I’m trying to learn German, but it’s frustrating because I want to be fluent like, right now.
    I love Pilates, but none of my friends know that. I don’t like sports and I’m fat, so everyone assumes that I’m just lazy, which I used to be; but I discovered Pilates like two years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since. I feel stronger and I just love doing it, but my goal it’s not “losing weight”, it’s being healthier but I feel like that’s something hard to explain to people…
    I used to be very unhappy. I didn’t like my body and felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. Thankfully, I’ve changed and grown. I’m much happier now that I can say that I love me.
    I’m studying Environmental Engineering. I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate.

    Cheers from Venezuela! :)

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Sara!

      “I’ve thought about carrying a piece of play-dough so I can get my fingers busy.” – That’s genius! I think I’m going to try this actually. I don’t have playdough, but I’m sure I can think of something else to use instead.

      Also, it’s great that you are enjoying pilates. I don’t think you should worry about having to explain anything to anyone. If they don’t get your reasons, who cares. But if no one even knows that you do it, then you’re not even giving other people who enjoy pilates the chance to connect with you. Who knows, maybe even some of your friends are doing pilates too!

      • Sara C.

        Hey Stefano, thanks for replying!

        Glad I could be of some help and I’ll definitely try to be more open about what I love.

        Hope you had a great day!

  • Ben

    Great article man. I love the level of self-conciousness you’re able to convey, it really resonated with me.

  • Necati

    Hey Stefano,
    You will be great author in 5-10 years. Keep going. You are inspiring me eventhough you are almost 20 years younger than me. Thanks for all writings, sharings and very good advices.


    • Wow, thank you Necati! Really appreciate that. Comments like yours are definitely motivating. I have no idea where I’ll be in 5-10 years, but I certainly plan to still be writing!

  • Hi Stefano~

    It’s a strange impression, the one I get from this post. It’s like everyone else knows you from way before, so this post really is something out of the norm and a way to get to know you better, but for me, being a recent reader, this is almost the first impression I have from you. And I think you’re cool.

    As for a random fact about me: I’m a civil engineering student, and I feel so out of place in my class among the students! They’re so superficial, I’ve literally heard them say “I want to be an engineer just for the paycheck. Engineers earn a lot of money!” when I got into engineering because I didn’t know what else to do, and stayed because I want to help people and the environment if possible. Most people I know there seem to be pretty bidimentional too (I think I only know a couple of girls among all the students I met there that are more interesting), not having hobbies besides either partying or watching series on Netflix/HBO, and not having actual ambitions respect to their careers.

    • Hi Isho,

      I’m glad this post didn’t make such a terrible first impression for you haha.

      In regards to feeling out of place, I definitely felt similarly when I was in college too. My advice is just to continue putting yourself out there and being open about your hobbies and interests. Doing so will automatically filter out the people who don’t share those interests with you, and it will make it easier for you to find people who do share similar interests as you, because they will naturally start to gravitate towards you. I think most people are actually more “interesting” than they might appear on the surface, the problem is that most of people are putting up a front in order to fit in with the crowd. But screw that. Who wants to be normal anyway? Being weird is more fun.