Embracing Irrelevance

I had a brush with the phenomenon of ageing, not that I didn't realise that I'm slowing down a little, and the hangovers are real, but an actual intellectual difference.

When I was in my early 20's, I prided myself on knowing tech. Like really, I could go on for hours on AR/VR, 3D printing, biomorphism, blah-blah-blah— ...the world was changing and I was running with it. Riding the wave. The highs.

At work, I would roll my eyes at M., who was a few years older than me, who was more passive on learning about "THE STUFF".

Cut the chase to recent times, a bunch of tech bros were discussing web3 and crypto in full vigour, I realised I really don't know enough, and looked on for a moment I could find something to say so that I could also participate. After a few moments of figuring and dismissing my naive-sounding statements, I politely sidestepped the conversation, marking it as one of the things I want to learn about.


I haven't come around to. YET.

But the real shocker was, I had made that mental note more than 6 months ago (or more?). Even before I realised it, I'm suddenly running behind. Unknowingly following the path M. took, I scoffed at myself. And that's when it struck me—

No matter how hard you try, how quick-footed you are, or how open to the change you are, at some point, the world around us will change must faster than we can imagine to keep up with. We're all going to face the fact that maybe we will become irrelevant in the ways we've known the world and start repurposing ourselves in very different ways.

A similar conversation happened with my manager where I weighed career paths between being an IC or a people manager. My first instinct was to shy away from people management because I feel that's an unknown or maybe because I felt I'm finally good at my design skills to leave them behind. To which he threw insight, that I like to think as an IC, I would still be working hand-on as I'm doing now, but that's not true. I can't shy away from dealing with people or cling to my craft is my identity because the natural growth progression of all careers is to move from deriving identity from the craft to leading other people to the desired outcome.

The shift in our identities is coming and at one point we're all going to feel irrelevant if we don't embrace change as it comes. The concept of identity will also start being more fluid than before. My younger self who used to proudly assume — "This will never happen to me", stands ashamed of the arrogance and humbled. I feel more empathetic to M. than before.

From being at the centre of the universe to somewhere on the periphery allows me to pick and explore the vast multitudes around me, with more freedom than before. And instead of following the path of brute learning to survive, I'm kind of exploring to thrive: I'm also becoming more comfortable in saying “I don't know this yet but I'll come back with an educated answer".

Grow with the flow 🌊

// P.S I did come around to learning Blockchain, web3 and crypto. My investment however was more passive than active.


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