My Goals in Life
October 20, 2017
Author: Bianca Yang
I have temporarily come to be at peace with myself. I don’t know when this peace will break, but I think my conclusions are rational and will lead me in the right direction. The next step is to emotionally acclimate myself to this new path.
I have gone through many, many destructive phases, most of which were variations on the theme of wanting to become super rich and turn into a hermit. Those thoughts helped soothe my anger and frustration when I felt like life wasn’t going in a satisfactory direction, but I’ve come to terms with how I think I want to mold my future.
Money is not my main objective. I used to think having a purpose in life would sustain me, but I now am willing to defer that goal of having a purpose in life for 10 years. I feel I am too young and too naive to be able to clearly formulate a purpose. I hope that in 10 years, I will have come up with my purpose. I hope that in 20 years, I will have made progress towards achieving that purpose. In the meantime, I want to solve hard problems, which most likely means pursuing a PhD.
Why do I want to solve hard problems? As vibrant as the startup culture has proven, I don’t think startups solve hard enough problems. Amazon and Google have commoditized many hard engineering problems related to getting set up and running. This makes it exceedingly easy for some half capable engineers to pull together a web app or mobile app and market it as the next solution for X. There’s also a ridiculous amount of money floating around. It’s a self-reinforcing loop where aspiring entrepreneurs start some “easy” company that solves a niche problem and then investors fund these cash cows and then more aspiring entrepreneurs get lured to the money and so on. Creating a CRM dashboard for the dental industry just because no one else has done it will make you money, but it is neither hard nor interesting enough for me.
Startups just don’t have enough resources to dedicate to solving hard problems. I will not deny that there are startups like Tesla, and SpaceX, and 3D printing companies that are solving fundamentally challenging issues. But I want to solve more basic problems. I want to do research that is just between basic research and applied research. I want to be at the current Bell Labs or Xerox PARC.
I feel like my Caltech education would be a waste if I didn’t spend at least past of my life past undergrad working on fundamentally hard problems. I don’t know if I’ll fit into the research culture, but I think this is the right direction to be going.
I will probably stop working at Virtualitics soon, so I can focus on researching something awesome.
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