By B.B. King
Are you a university student, studying to get a good job in the future?
Are you currently an employee, learning some skills to find higher paid work?
When thinking about what subjects to study, what skills to acquire, we all consider what is demanded in society. Software skills, AI experience, data science knowledge… these are the things which are highly demanded in today’s society.
My friends, for example, they major computer science at university, not because they are passionate about it, but because that is one of the most certain way to have a good job and stable life in the future.
However, our society is an arbitrary place.
Skills or knowledge that our society demands are changing through time. Painting skills were much more appreciated during the Renaissance period. In a hunting society, those who are physically strong are highly valued.
You happened to be born in a society which puts importance on computer skills, it does not mean the skills are going to be appreciated forever. Even in today’s world, if you had been born in one of the tribes in Papua New Guinea, deep understanding on computers might not be so useful.
DO NOT objectify skills and knowledge. They are not commodities in a market, where it’s all about supply & demand. If you learn new things or new skills just because they are useful, once the society does not appreciate them anymore, they become useless. Skills and knowledge are beyond monetary value, and you can never assess their values by usefulness. They are to enrich your life and you are to apply them for the sake of society, in the form of “giving back”.
DO NOT learn superficially. Try to grasp an essence which is beyond categories. Whichever subjects you may learn, focus on underlying discipline that you can harness for the benefit of society. You memorized a complex mathematical formula? What for? To pass an exam? Passing an exam is not where the value of studying lies in. It is your role to add value to things you’ve learned, by figuring out how to bring them into play. That is why it is key to comprehend the essence, because it is universal, solid, and everlasting.
I believe these two points are what make your skills and knowledge valuable.
There is no such thing as “useless skills” or “meaningless studies”, since it is YOU who provide value and meaning to them, not the society.