Tuesday, March 15, 2011

all that jack of all trades common sense

Leonarda da Vinci -- generalist or specialist?
nonsense. i reject it.

i paint my story as one of rebellion against the cautionary jack of all trades, master of none tale, against the idiom 门门懂,样样瘟. i fight to discredit "the law of conservation of talent."

i rationalize my own failures and laziness as acceptable losses for enjoying my life, enjoying learning. perhaps i simply lack the vision to see the bigger picture, where i am one of many students here who overextend and try to do too many things. but although sometimes i realize how much i fail,  as a whole i still am so much in debt and constantly inspired by everyone around me that i survive.

i'm going to work hard, and know that my friends and family and my professors and TAs wish the best for me, and go my own way.

i hope i won't be able to understand the sentiment of boxing myself into one field, even as many people in the world may think i have boxed myself into engineering (I have a fierce pride for engineering, though! I have really come to appreciate how much of the world depends on engineering). Even if I declare a MechE major, I still want to be proficient at software engineering, EE, and synthetic biology, and knowledgeable about developmental economics and education. I want to be able to communicate at least a bit in multiple languages and able to write proficiently in English. I want to be in shape (one day >.<) and decent at martial arts (specifically American Jiu Jitsu).

Yes. I want everything.

but i still deeply respect specialists. they're awesome o_o their passion inspires me to learn more about what they're learning about.

of course, generalist vs specialist are all just vague abstractions which aren't terribly applicable to real life, where no one just learns one thing if only i know them well enough. even if it were true, i honestly believe neither is better than the other.

am i smart enough? am i dedicated enough? am i "wandering instead of pioneering"? who knows! :) I'll just take one step at a time and see where i go.

and in response to this:
the top 5 reasons to be a jack of all trades
i have to say, i wish more people thought not just about how to "outsource their work" and find "greater happiness," but also about how to help others. it may just be one of many ways to find happiness for people in general (see Maslow's hierarchy for one historically influential theory), but i think for me in particular, it's the only way to go. even if i'm not in a state to help others. and i don't think this mindset is morally good. i think everyone is this way, and i view it as utterly selfishi do it to feel better]

Another question -- why do people focus so much on UROPs and industry experience? To me, it seems my time at MIT is well-spent taking many classes, as it's likely that never again in my life will I have the opportunity to pursue interesting things for the fun of it while surrounded by awesome people also engaging in the same activity. Certainly, given enough time, I could learn thermofluids on my own one day, but I love being surrounded by people who are passionate about thermofluids.

I suppose that UROPs are experiences unique to MIT / academia as well, that I need to take advantage of while I still can. Not sure.

[Edit 4/3/11] Ooh, shiny, more stuff for my own reference.
"Sheesh....how much of a difference HAVE I made in this world? What HAVE I really 'mastered?' And, if I don't 'master' something, does that mean my life (at its end) will be for naught?" What a scary thought!

But, I look at it again and realize I was perfectly content and happy and making small differences in people's lives here and there throughout my life up until this point. It was only once I looked at my life from the perspective of a non-INTP that I felt like I had accomplished squat. In reality, I'm dang awesome at several things, good enough at several others, and passing-grade on a few others. I suspect many of us are."

I mean, nothing really matters, (yay Comical Philosophy of Death), but I still find Tolstoy useful:

Remember then: there is only one time that is important--Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!"
Any way, I passed over my chronic existential crisis or whatever (haven't proved myself yet, haven't changed the world for the better, etc. etc.) and post-spring-break laziness and am back on track. Back to 8 am to 4 am schedules laid out for every minute of the day! And lots of psetting of course :)