Learning to Question Everything
As a child, I never really questioned things that were told to me. Even though I ended up an engineer, I don’t remember spending hours taking things apart to see how they worked, and trying to put them back together. I took what teachers told me as truth, never asking why I had to “simplify” 10/3 into 3 1/3 or why I had to memorize formulas instead of learning why they worked intuitively. In retrospect, I realize that that was a large part of why I did so well in school, as the school system is set up for those who do not question the status quo to excel.
I used to take things at face value. Something not working the way I intended? Just learn to deal with it. As I develop as an engineer surrounded by creative minds, I’ve started to see problems as things to fix, things that I can fix. Being able to code is incredibly empowering because the changes you can make are so tangible.
Now I find myself reading things online and offline and thinking, that’s not really a fair generalization, or hey that’s just not true. As much as it infuriates me to read anything by Penelope Trunk, seeing her posts published by TechCrunch and other “reputable” online sources, has made me realize that things people spout as “this-is-the-way-things-should-be-done” are entirely opinion, heavily biased by the filter of their own lives.
I received some engineering advice recently, which was to “question everything that is technical” because people are still figuring stuff out and there’s no one right way to do something. I think this could be generalized to just “Question Everything.” As Tiny Fey puts it so eloquently in her book Bossypants,
“When people say ‘You really, really must’ do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, ‘You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.’ When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”
The world is revealing itself to me as a dynamic but uncertain place, a place where I don’t have to just sit idly by and watch others change the world. A place where I can make a meaningful impact.
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