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#43 — The Strength of Weak Ties

Brandon's Bulletin
Some insights towards how meaningful your 20s can be, taken from Dr. Meg Jay’s “Defining Decade”. What should we really invest in and consider as we live during this critical period? Read on to hear my thoughts on this :)

Hey everyone! I’m writing this newsletter on a Tuesday — I just picked up a book (The Defining Decade by Meg Jay) and I’m feeling super inspired. Growing up, I’d love reading. It was a way for me to be transported into another world. The books I read today aren’t really that as much, but rather a way for me to learn from other people, to be transported into another person’s mind. It’s one of my goals this year to read a lot and I’m really excited to make this a habit I build on this year that will hopefully stay with me for the rest of my life.
the strength of weak ties 🪢
As many of you probably know, I’m 20 years old. It’s the start of what many call the “Defining Decade”. I saw this book in one of my friend’s nightstands and I’m now working my way through it.
A lot of people reading my newsletters are around the same age as me, so maybe you might learn something new here. Dr. Jay (yeah, she has a PhD in clinical psychology) speaks about how important it is to invest in yourself and make the most out of this time.
On a side note, who uses Apple Books? I’ve been reading these ebooks on my iPad now every day before nighttime and it also syncs to my iPhone. I was waiting 20 minutes for a dental appointment today and I just opened Apple Books and got a good 20 minutes of reading in. How come I didn’t use this sooner :(
Okay back to the good stuff. I’m only 20% into the book (it’s my first day reading this) but what I learned so far is two things that I would like to share with you in this letter.
1. Invest in Identity Capital
Identity capital is the collection of our personal assets, things and resources that we have accumulated over the years that no one can take away from us. This can be our education, our personality, test scores, our experiences leading school clubs, etc…
In our 20s, it’s probably one of the most pivotal phases of our lives (says everyone, I’ll let you know if it is in 10 years). I wouldn’t be surprised though; for most people, it’s the time before we start families and when we’re able to be responsible for only ourselves. It’s important that we use this time to trampoline into building up a diversity of tools within our toolbox that will help us be where we want to be in the future.
Looking at personal experiences, I can see how investing in this identity capital helps a lot. I’ve taken on some unpaid internships and volunteer work, sometimes prioritizing them over school. The amount of value I’ve been able to get on that is unparalleled, be it expertise in the field, lifelong mentors and friends, and sometimes even more opportunities (that may actually have the potential to pay me back). The experiences that I have been so lucky to have has since allowed me to pivot into different career options, I have options now, if I ever wanted to (and I currently do).
So, say yes to more things and pursue opportunities that will help you build your toolkit — experiences, connections, and future opportunities.
2. Weak Ties
“It’s the people we hardly know that make the biggest difference in our lives, often for the better”.
I’ll revisit that quote in a bit. I want to talk about this one first: “Birds of the same feather flock together”. If we’re honest, our friend groups have some easily identifiable common denominators, be it interest in the same talk show, historical experiences together, or similar interests or career paths. That’s amazing, having people who can relate to and are similar to you.
Dr. Jay argues that the most benefit actually comes from those we don’t really call “close”, people who we have “weak ties” with. Think about it for a minute. We may not get close to them because perhaps we don’t have that much in common or they have different perspectives or experiences than us. Effectively, we could call this an “uncomfortable experience”.
Okay maybe uncomfortable might be a stretch, but work with me here. We all know that “growth comes at the brink of uncomfortableness” (wow 3 quotes in one section, I’m on a roll). That’s exactly the point. When we’re in places that we don’t want to be in, or when we talk to people that maybe we wouldn’t talk to by default, there’s much more to learn and grow from.
It’s ultimately the weak ties that give us the biggest ROI.
So that’s what I’ve learned so far from this book. It’s been really great getting back into books this year, so let me know if you have any recs!
On the note of “weak ties”, let me know if anyone reading this would like to have a 1 on 1 with me! I would love to meet you and have a quick chat. Please feel free to find some time here :)
three life updates 🌱
  1. I’m back to school now! taking 5 courses — 3 bio courses, 1 psych, and one ethics course, and I’m excited for it! It’s gonna be a busy semester but I wouldn’t want anything less.
  2. Making it a goal for myself to post a YouTube video weekly and blog weekly. I’m also setting a goal to read for 30 minutes a day and also do some kind of movement for 30 minutes a day.
  3. sdf
ponder this thought this week 🦋
what steps to I need to take in order to build up my identity capital?
video of the week 🌤
getting my life back together as a UofT student in 2022
getting my life back together as a UofT student in 2022
Thanks for reading this new rendition of Brandon’s Bulletin! If you found this thought-provoking or would like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to reach me on Twitter or via email. Find me elsewhere on YouTube and on my website. Have an amazing week ahead and see you here next Monday!
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Brandon Yu
Brandon Yu @brandonoliveryu

Becoming better in public and sharing weekly learnings throughout my personal pursuit of ikigai.

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