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Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013)

I'm a 17 year old female student in Singapore, currently in my last semester in high school. I've been lurking around this site for at least the past year, and have made my way through some of the beginning sequences. However, what really made me want to stick around was lukeprog's post on How To Be Happy. Funnily enough, I don't think I've deliberately taken up any of the suggestions, though I have realised that my slow path to extroversion over the past few years contributed significantly to my baseline happiness increasing, as has my recent focus on writing. I guess one could say that my focus when reading this site is instrumental rationality, or basically what can I glean from here to make my life the way I want it to be.

Recently, however, I've been unable to focus as much because a small part of my mind seems constantly devoted to panicking about college. I'm planning on studying computer engineering in university, and I'm fully confident that I will get into the two local universities of my choice. I'm aiming for US universities too, and getting into them is very important to me, because I'm gay. I'm well aware of Singapore's active scene in that regards, it's just that staying here for university means I'll be living in my parents' house for at least four more years, and actively lying/hiding from them what I do stresses me out greatly.

I've always been able to succeed academically even with this kind of stress, but trying to write college essays while panicking over the possibility of being stuck in this house trying to pretend that I'm not gay or an atheist is not very productive. Neither is the panic over whether my stats are good enough to get into the kind of universities that would justify my parents letting me go to the US.

I suppose one would note I've written very little about epistemic rationality, mostly because as fascinating and illuminating as I find it, I've often used reading about it as a distraction from my panic and doing work. I'm keeping my efforts focused on 'winning' right now. I'm not really sure I identify as a rationalist, as I don't feel competent enough to claim such a title. Right now, my goals are getting into university and trying to decrease my risk-aversion, as the latter has often prevented me engaging in social events that would improve my mood and/or stretch my social skills.