Andrew Huberman and “That Girl”
Same person, different fonts.
Tl;dr: Huberman made the ideal framework for “That Girl”. Waking up and going on a walk first thing, making my room more visually appealing, and taking magnesium before going to sleep in a cold room are habits that have improved my life. Learning to balance the “self” and “optimization” is an ongoing journey.
A startup called Humani raised $2.2M to enhance its AI engine that evaluates assessments, exercises, and other data to provide personal development and career choice guidance. Its initial products are set to launch later this year. Until then, I guess we will have to rely on other sources to optimize our lives!
I’ve been leaning into self-optimization over self-improvement lately, with the former taking constraints into consideration and the latter attempting to break them. Working with the grain rather than against it resulted in far more improvements than living life like a never-ending 75-hard challenge. Instead of waking up on January 1st trying to create a new version of myself, I slowly started to incorporate habits without turning down every spontaneous weekday wine night, moving my mind away from focusing on the process to focusing on the outcomes.
Here are some things that have made big changes in my day-to-day:
Morning: I wake up between 6:30AM and 7:00AM (most days), and go for a walk first thing to get exposure to natural light. According to Andrew Huberman, this helps reduce my stress through optic flow and “waking up” my circadian clock. It’s also a great time to be outside if you live in a city because you can see it before the workday hustle. It’s hard to have “you” time when you’re constantly surrounded by others.
Day: I started to make my environment a more pleasant place to be. I switched my journal to one that looks nicer when it’s sitting on my desk and started to hang more of my clothes rather than keep them in laundry baskets under my bed. My room is now less of a storage unit and more of a place where I’m happy to work and relax in.
Night: I take magnesium before bed and make sure my AC is blasting. This routine not only helps me fall asleep and stay asleep longer, but has forced me to be more intentional. Adding something new to the old brushing-teeth-and-washing-face routine made me think more about the process rather than just feeling like I was moving through the motions that took me from my laptop to under my sheets.
It seems like a lot of people are trying to optimize themselves like the technology embedded in their lives, including myself. In Wikipedia terms, self-optimization in regard to technology, is “... a process in which the system’s settings are and continuously adapted to the traffic profile and the network environment…” I see myself trying to navigate the traffic that occurs in my own life like my Dad on a family road trip, minimizing the number of stops with the goal of a smooth ride while searching for opportunities to accelerate. From my sleep tracker to medical-grade skincare, I’m constantly tweaking sectors of my life. If I run into a traffic jam, whether that be going to bed at 2:00AM after a night with friends or breaking out yet again, it feels more like a mechanical failure rather than a result of being human. I can’t bring my body to the auto shop despite the amount I’ve spent on insurance. Instead, I try to adapt while performing a balancing act with my own journey of self-optimization. This is the only body I’ll ever be given, and I want to use it as best as I can, for as long as I can. I also want to embrace what it means to live a human life without boundaries.
Learning to balance isn’t a unique experience, but it’s interesting when I take a step back and see how it’s received by two groups that I culturally engage with online. On Twitter, I found the term “bio-hacking” and Andrew Huberman. I liked how people documented their journeys and how Huberman broke down his own science-backed methods to optimization, which he calls protocols. I see others that work in tech, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, posting about their experiences and results.
Moving over to the other side of the internet to: “That Girl” a genre of content I see on TikTok and Pinterest that emulates the pinnacle of success and productivity, often focusing on the ideal version of a 20-something-year-old woman's life. I come across this content normally in the form of thin, white women in their spotless rooms waking up at sunrise. Huberman is actually creating the ideal framework for “That Girl”.
If we set aside things like the promotion of physical items (LMNT electrolyte mix or Lululemon workout set) and lack of representation on both sides, and focus more on their mindsets, the two groups both have self-optimization at their core. However, if someone tries to follow Andrew Huberman’s protocols, it’s seen as a noble pursuit to improve oneself, whereas “That Girl” content is seen as a toxic fast-pass to either burnout or an inevitable disappointment. Self-optimization is seen as either aspirational and motivating, or performative and toxic.
You’re in control of defining and perceiving self-optimization in your own life. To me, it’s not superficial to feel accomplished by my habits and routines, but I am always working to focus more on the “self” and less on the “optimization”. You may be seeing a different response to these groups on your side of the internet. If so, let me know by replying to this email!