Meditations on Learning#

Study Every Day#

The only career advice I ever received from my cousin, who’s one of the most successful people I know is this. “No matter how busy your day is, no matter what happens, make sure you set aside two hours a day to study and learn something new.”

I took his advice seriously. In fact, I assumed that this was the most sane advice I could ever get from someone in my family.

Study every day.

Taken quite literally though, this doesn’t scale. Life comes in the way. You have things to do, people to meet, places to be. However, the take away has always been, learn constantly.

Study Despite Your Surroundings#

Not many people like to learn though. I’ve had people ask me why I want to learn. The company isn’t paying for it, after all. I’ve had people ask me if I’m doing it to get more money, or better jobs.

I learn because I am curious to a fault. I like to understand things from a basic level. At one level, this is my crippling imposter’s syndrome, making me ensure that I understand things from a first-principles approach. I don’t consider myself to be the smartest person in the room. I have friends who are ridiculously smart. One of them was meddling with circuits when she was a child. Another was figuring out how Linux worked when we were in school. I am nothing in front of them. So, I compared the people I worked with to these friends.

It’s sad how realism comes to smack idealism in the face on a regular basis.

Most of the people you will meet do not want to learn. I am not so sure I know what does this. Perhaps it’s the school system. I love saying I love to learn despite my schooling, not because of it. My teachers, most of them, were atrociously bad. Some of them were even cruel human beings. They didn’t belong near children, not their own, let alone someone else’s.

However I still love to learn. I like learning how things work. I love learning how to take things apart and put them back together again. I’m known for telling people to not learn Django, but what I mean when I say that is that don’t learn Django as your first web-framework. Learn Flask, learn express.js, not because these might be superior, and trust me when I say this, they are not; but because Django hides things under the hood. You don’t get to see what’s happening when your request comes in, guns akimbo, and something, something, doesn’t match. Have you ever had a HTTP request come in where the mandatory blank line between the headers and the payload is missing? Do you know what Flask would do? It would crash the server. Django would handle it well, like a production-grade web-server would, and returns a 415. But most developers are content not knowing. And that is okay.

I need to internalize this myself though. A lot of the people I come across in life do not like to learn. They do not want to learn. They will accept things as fact without asking for the proof. This is how you have people who believe in ideals without questioning them. And that’s okay. That’s not a problem. I don’t need to agree with them. I can still work with them.

Ask the Answerable Questions#

Sometimes you don’t get answers. The biggest reason I love books is that they will reveal whatever they contain to you. Sure, some authors are bad at explaining things. Some of them are downright liars when it comes to the format of their content. However, it’s still a superior medium to asking people directly. Yet, I believe in asking questions. Most importantly, I love asking why. Why is something the way it is? Why does this work? Why does that not work? Why did this happen?

My time working at a shop floor taught me the importance of asking why.


This document is still a work in progress.