Things I’ve noticed lately

S21 reflections

Sofia Sanchez
10 min readJul 25, 2021

Life’s a game

The Great Online Game

I could honestly spend hours talking about this single topic. Its meaning I’d already noticed, its name I learned it in this article. If I’m a good communicator, you will go back to this sentence and understand that I’m playing that game right now.

In The Great Online Game, everyone is a player and a developer of their own game. This is mine

My interpretation of The Great Online Game is: the power of the internet. Isn’t it crazy that you can meet someone from Dubai when you’re in Mexico? Or that you can get funding for your startup without living your house? Learn about hard tech from the comfort of your sofa? Invest in crypto while being a 16 year-old?

I may sound like a boomer, but to me it is crazy. I’m actually a GenZ and I clearly saw how the game got in steroids when the pandemic started. People say that the world is virtual now. For me it’s nuts to realize that some of the best experiences in my life so far have happened online.

That article I read highlights NFTs as an example of how the game is itself leveling up. I mean… buying digital art for thousands of dollars is cool, but how about controlling a top-tier lab entirely from your laptop?

They have a point: the great online game is just starting to grow. I can’t wait to see where it takes us, with tech like VR or haptics too.

The endless game

Talking about games, the last call that I had with a mentor (yes, on Zoom) was about playing the endless game. I now know that Simon Sinek actually wrote a book about that. I still need to read it.

I understood 2 things: break systems down and know how you’re going.

What is college meant for? Most people think that it’s knowledge, some say that it’s connections, and others go for credentials. I think all of those are right, but it’s also true that all most of those things (except for the piece of paper) can be gotten elsewhere.

Neither me nor my mentor are trying to say that college is useless. The point is to understand what you need to get where you want to be. Chances are you’re not getting accepted to Harvard, but you can even email some researchers and get the opportunity to intern there. This is not too rare, I know 5+ people who have done this in different ways, even before entering college.

For the second point, some say that “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”. That means that in life, you either have a goal or life will choose for you. I agree, but I think that it’s also important to know the kind of life you want to have, not only focus on the goals. What do you want a day in your life to look like?

That’s what the endless game is about, I think. Being in a constant growth mode, being resourceful, and enjoying what you do because in the end happiness is one of those few things that really make sense in life.

Today’s game

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thought become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny” — Mahatma Gandhi

Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

Let’s talk about the monkey brain. That part of ourselves that doesn’t like working out, eating healthy, or doing anything hard. Every single human has it by default, but every single one of us also has the power to control it if we want.

When trying to build new habits, I find that it’s all a game against yourself. If we put things into a balance, winning will feel better even if losing feeds the monkey brain. Therefore, you ‘only’ need to beat yourself.

It’s actually hard, but it happens all the time. It’s about the little decisions: wake up to work out or stay in bed for 5 more minutes, stop eating because I’m full or pick one more slice, start working on that task or check my inbox instead.

That tiny moment when you’re about to make the decision is what I call the match. Your monkey brain vs your more intelligent self. Those who win the match repeatedly are already way ahead in life from those who don’t.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone” — Blaise Pascal

How do I build more legit stuff?

Get feedback

I started working on biotech projects in the summer of 2020. My plan was to cure diabetes by following these steps: write a research proposal, get feedback from experts, buy the ‘ingredients’, do the experiments, and get that product to the market in less than a year.

What I didn’t expect was that most feedback I received was: you’re being too ambitious (not to say naïve). My budget was far from being right, I missed the protocols, and my experiment design wasn’t ‘scientifically correct’.

I always appreciated the feedback, but I couldn’t understand their way of thinking. I thought I would prove them wrong. In retrospective, that led me to not seeking feedback for my next research projects, which was a mistake.

Despite doing lots of research, I felt like my work wasn’t leading me anywhere. I wanted to build something and make it real. Now I know that the step to making it real is getting feedback from experts. If you share it with others, you’re no longer the only crazy person thinking about that idea.

Sometimes you can’t find all the answers online, and asking someone on-the-ground can save you a lot of time. Plus, they have a unique perspective grown through years of experience, so they can tell you what you didn’t know you didn’t know.

Another reason why I didn’t want to get feedback was because I was scared that people would steal my idea. After some time, I understood that most researchers are already pretty busy working on their own thing, and that ideas without execution are bs.

Build in public

Make it real

After you’ve gotten feedback, iterated from there, repeated the cycle lots of times, and refined an idea that makes sense, you now want to build it.

There’s no better feeling to having tangible results to your work. That doesn’t mean a physical product. It could be a digital one. The point is to have an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that you can show to others to iterate again.

There’s a greater leap to do this in biotech (talking about non-computational biology). I trust that soon, biohacking and community labs will make it easier. For now, research labs are the best place to build.

[I don’t have a story for this part yet. That’s where I’m at right now]

Currently under learning mode

Build with others

My plan for this year was to work on a biotech project before the summer so I could turn that into a startup during the summer. Now I know a lot of things I didn’t know.

My mentor actually insisted that I did an internship. I didn’t understand why. I saw internships as poorly paid jobs in which you follow instructions from somebody else (a.k.a. nothing like starting your own company).

It took a long while and taking a horrible shot at starting a biotech company for me to understand why my mentor thought that was the best way to invest my time.

Now I see internships as high-quality, free, and real-world education that can give you important credentials too. In the future, when I actually start a real biotech startup, others will think I’m more credible if they see X internship in my resumé.

Of course it’s not only about that. I will actually be more experienced since I’ll know how people do things in the real world: how they manage teams, run meetings, do research, talk to investors, and more valuable insights.

^ The startup where I’m currently interning at

Getting my life together


Before 2020, I was never a person who liked planning. I preferred executing. Long story short, I went through several phases in planning my life, to re-discover that to do lists are all I need.

Some say that failing to plan is planning for failure. I‘ve found that there needs to be a balance. Planning every single minute of your life (as I was doing at some point) won’t make you more productive. Planning without execution is the dumbest.

Planning in the long-term sometimes makes sense as long as you break down those goals into doable chunks. It’s about working backwards from your goals.

Another approach I’ve recently taken is having a bucket list of things that I want to do in the future. That way I keep them in my radar, I know when they’re coming but I don’t let them interrupt my current activities.

I have a Notion page for this 👀

The life buffet

Ray Dalio says that life is like a great buffet with more delicious plate than the ones we can try. If you don’t stick to a juicy plate at some point in life, you may never really enjoy something. But to do that, you’ll have to learn to say no.

After overwhelming my schedule for some months, I learned that (indeed) quality diminishes with quality and depth decreases with breadth. Of course, there are people like Elon Musk who’ve managed both very well. It’s not my case yet.

In the past, I used to think that I could do everything and anything that I put my mind to. “I can do it all!” — I would say. Now I think that I can do everything that I put my mind to but I’d better not put my mind to more than 3 things.

It’s not only about doing few things better, but also enjoying those more. As said before, eating that whole juicy plate as opposed to just bits of everything.


After having a philosophical talk with a friend, I learned that it’s all about balance. Everything in excess is bad, as they say.

It’s also about the balance. If you need to make a decision but you’re unsure about the options, put everything in a balance and analyze the cost-benefit in the long-term.

2021 Sofi may not want to study for the SAT, but the potential benefit of entering a good college is more valuable than the cost of studying today, and that could compound in the long-term too.

The opportunity cost of not studying is higher


The highest level of overthinking I’ve found myself doing is meta-overthinking: overthinking about overthinking. Hopefully I’m not doing that right now 😂.

I do that a lot. One conclusion I came down to is: life could be as simple as following your curiosity, setting goals for yourself, and removing the obstacles or closing the gap to get there.

Some shorter realizations


There will always be someone better than you in some way, and you never know if that person is standing in front of you. Balance between having self-confidence, but acting with caution and respect to others.

Seek understanding

Everything I wrote in this article has been thought by millions of people at some point in their lives, but you only understand those quotes until you experience them yourself.

Knowledge ≠understanding


Those things that we’re most scared of doing, are sometimes what we need to do the most. It starts with small things too: participating in class even when you’re not sure of your knowledge, talking to that expert when you’re not an expert too.

Be patiently impatient

Understanding that few things happen over night, but time can pass faster than we think, so there’s a huge power in starting now and having the discipline to continue every day.

Only stagnation means failure, and 1 year is a great reference point for how compound interest can do its job when it comes to personal and professional growth.

I may not start a startup during high school, but I can work on projects to learn by building. If I do that for 3+ years, I will gain invaluable experience and advantage. I may not know it all, but I prefer that approach to the ‘fake it til you make it’ one.

Start today.

Yellow = what others don’t see

Hey! I’m S🧠FIA, an ambitious teenager researching and building innovative projects with 🧬Synthetic Biology and (occasionally) AI.
Just for growth, I also innovate at TKS🦄, create content, play the piano, read, and 🌎 connect with new people on a weekly basis (hit me up!).