Can Someone Tell My Neighbor to Not Study Computer Science?
This essay was originally published here.
The other day I was in my parent’s garage cleaning some mats. Suddenly, I see the neighbors frantically walking toward me and saying, “Hi!”
The conversation starts like this:
Mom Neighbor: Oh, you go to this college. Is it hard to get in?
Me: Maybe I don’t know. What is your son excited about?
Mom Neighbor: My son is applying there for Computer Science
Mom Neighbor: What about the jobs? Are your friends getting jobs? What about career fairs?
Me: (I ignored the questions and looked at the son) What do you actually want to do? What gets you excited?
Neighbor Son: (doesn’t know where to look) “I dunno. Whatever makes me money.”
This is classic. The stressed parents tell their kids what to do and how to do it while chasing money.
I could understand. For them, it may be a cultural thing, pressure to make it, and of course, the bumper stickers to flex on their family friends.
Like us, my neighbors are immigrants who are trying to make it and have a better future. But forcing their kid to become either a doctor or engineer isn’t the only way.
The main reason one must do what one loves doing is that supply creates its own demand. Therefore, we have a moral obligation to ourselves and to the world to create and be what we can only achieve. Neglecting that is the greatest disservice and dishonor to you, your name, and your entire existence.
Many of us are worried about doing things with an already existing demand. In this case, my neighbors forcing their son to study computer science due to the job market. The parents aren’t wrong per se. College is messed up and computer science is one of the few majors that could get you a job after graduation. At least find a job to help you pay back those loans.
However, this does not mean everyone must study computer science. Rather, It means we need to be even more careful about finding what we love doing while avoiding the prestige of money, impressing our family/friends, and forgetting the little spark within us.
We all know what we want to do. We just need someone to believe in us.
That someone may have to be yourself, which is why we need to create self-belief to trust that doing what you love will work out in due time but it will work because it’s the morally right thing to do.
Supply Creates its Own Demand
What the hell does that even mean? Let me give you an example. Kids who set up lemonade stands. They set it up and people, myself included, who wouldn’t otherwise get lemonade, stop by and buy lemonade from them.
If the kids did not set up the stand, no one would have bought lemonade or knocked on their kids’ door asking for lemonade.
A simple example, but it happens everywhere.
Comedians create a demand for themselves by publishing videos online and then getting called to do comedy specials, acting, or television.
Technologists create a demand for their products by creating something people didn’t know they needed.
This is a beautiful idea.
And important concept to grasp because if you find and do what you love, you will do it well, and you will create a demand for whatever it is you do.
This is even more true in our globalized world because no matter how small your interest may be, there will be at least hundreds of thousands of people with the same interest. Better yet, you don’t need millions or thousands of people to make a living. You may need as few as 1000 or even 100 people.
The idea that supply creates its own demand is called Say’s Law. Production can be the source of demand. Not always the other way around. This is huge because the creation of demand is possible, which means you can do what you love and, yes, make money.
You can’t have a demand for something that doesn’t exist, something people don’t know exists, or something people don’t know they want .
This is also the reason why market research is bullshit. When you’re doing what you want, the demand will be created.
This goes from doing whatever hot thing to doing what you want and knowing how to sell/convince others that what you have is what they want.
Doing what you love adds a new layer, knowing how to sell. But perhaps that’s the price of doing what you want while the demand is created.
Oh dear neighbor
What should my neighbor do? He must do what he wants.
Throughout his whole life, he’s been taught to be an NPC so he has no idea what he likes or what he wants.
He must drop that shit and start focusing on following his curiosity wherever it may lead. I would also tell him, “Don’t ever follow your passion, it’s horseshit. Follow your curiosity, it’s a never-ending goldmine.”
Following your curiosity is a never-ending goldmine.
If you don’t know where to start, remember what you used to like as a kid or what you’re really good at remembering.
I’ve always enjoyed business. My first time ever was when I’d sell Panini collectible stickers to my friends during recess when I was seven years old. Then I’d have a cheese distribution business to family and friends, and local deli places. I moved to the US and created a social media marketing agency, and on and on. I found it interesting and keep doing it.
Combine my business sense with other things I’m curious about such as engineering, science, coding, philosophy, media and storytelling, writing, and economics. Something will come out, but not just something.
Something that I am only uniquely able to contribute to this world. That must be our focus because that is how we thrive.
Do what you want and the demand will be created. Be an NPC, follow the demand and you’ll never be happy.
 Sometimes when you’re making a product or service, you need to think about what other people would like. Listening to the users is the most important thing because you’d ideally want to create something for many people. While that’s true, often that starts with an inner want of something YOU want because if that’s true, that will be true for at least some other people. It’s more like you listen to users for direction but not for answers because only you can know the answers.
If you’re into interesting ideas (like the one you just read), join my Weekly Memos, and I’ll send you new essays right when they come out.
Photo Above by Jesús Rodríguez on Unsplash