Aunt Pythia’s advice
Aunt Pythia is overwhelmed with joy today, readers, and not only because she gets to refer to herself in the third person.
The number and quality of math book suggestions from last week have impressed Auntie dearly, and with the permission of mathbabe, which wasn’t hard to get, she established a new page with the list of books, just in time for the holiday season. I welcome more suggestions as well as reviews.
On to some questions. As usual, I’ll have the question submission form at the end. Please put your questions to Aunt Pythia, that’s what she’s here for!
Dear Aunt Pythia,
I was one of those kids who when asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” said “Errrghm …” or maybe just ignored the question. Today I am still that confused toddler. I have changed fields a few times (going through a major makeover right now), never knew what I want to dive into, found too many things too interesting. I worry that half a life from now, I will have done lots and nothing. I crave having a passion, one goal – something to keep trying to get better at. What advice do you have for the likes of me?
Forever Yawning or Wandering Globetrotter
I can relate. I am constantly yearning to have enough time to master all sorts of skills that I just know would make me feel fulfilled and satisfied, only to turn around and discover yet more things I’d love to devote myself to. What ever happened to me learning to flatpick the guitar? Why haven’t I become a production Scala programmer?
It’s enough to get you down, all these unrealized hopes and visions. But don’t let it! Remember that the people who only ever want one thing in life are generally pretty bored and pretty boring. And also remember that it’s better to find too many things too interesting than it is to find nothing interesting.
And also, I advise you to look back on the stuff you have gotten done, and first of all give yourself credit for those things, and second of all think about what made them succeed: probably something like the fact that you did it gradually but consistently, you genuinely liked doing it and learning from it, and you had the resources and environment for it to work.
Next time you want to take on a new project, ask yourself if all of those elements are there, and then ask yourself what you’d be dropping if you took it on. You don’t have to have definitive answers to these questions, but even having some idea will help you decide how realistic it is, and will also make you feel more like it’s a decision rather than just another thing you won’t feel successful at.
Dear Aunt Pythia,
My boss lacks leadership qualities and is untrustworthy, and I will resign soon. Should I tell his boss what I think of this boss?
In Aunt Pythia’s humble opinion, one of the great joys of life is the exit interview. Why go out with a whimper when you have the opportunity to go out with a big-ass ball of flame?
Let’s face it, it’s a blast to vent honestly and thoroughly on your way out the door, and moreover it’s expected. Why else would you be leaving? Because of some goddamn idiot, that’s why! Why not say who?
You’ll hear people say not to “burn bridges”. That’s boooooooring. I say, burn those motherfuckers to the ground!
Especially when you’re talking about people with whom you’d never ever work again, ever ever. Sometimes you just know it’ll never happen. And it feels great, trust me. I’m a pro.
That said, don’t expect anyone to listen to you, cuz that aint gonna happen. Nobody listens to people when they leave. Sadly, most people also don’t listen to people when they stay, either, so you’re shit out of luck in any case. But as long as you know that you’re good.
I hope that helped!
Dear Aunt Pythia,
How should I organize my bookshelf? I have 1000+ books.
Readers! I want some suggestions, and please make them nerdy and/or funny! I know I can count on you.
Please ask Aunt Pythia a question! She loves her job and can’t wait to give you unreasonable, useless, and possibly damaging counsel!