It seems to me that everyone's life is a constant struggle between trying to be happy with how they are, and wanting to improve themselves. This conundrum is something I only came to fully grasp in my thirties, and though I could be upset that I haven't figured it out sooner, because that would've been very useful, I'm just happy that I eventually did.
My whole life I aimed to change things that I thought made me unhappy. I seemed fat, need to lose weight. I'm unhappy at home, need to move out. I don't like doing Architecture, so I need to leave the course. Don't like someone, I need to block them from my life. And for a long time this made sense. It worked. The results that those changes generated were usually good.
The deal is though, deep inside, they never seemed just right. Why? Well, I was doing those things for the wrong reasons.
You see, the reason why I wanted to lose weight when the doctor jokingly said the word ‘obese’ in an appointment, shouldn’t have been ‘because I don’t want to be fat’, but rather, ‘I want to be a healthier version of myself’. The reason why I wanted to move out of my parents house shouldn’t have been ‘because I don’t like living with them’, but rather, ‘I want to be somewhere I can be myself’. I shouldn’t have just left Architecture school because I didn’t like the course, but rather find out why I don’t like it, what are the areas of it I do like, and if there are opportunities to learn and work in them? And lastly, just because you don’t like someone, for whatever reason, it shouldn’t lead you to completely cut them out of your life. Rather, trying to understand what it is you don’t like, trying to understand if it’s somehow your view of something that is skewed or biased, or if you’re actually correct and that is the right choice to make.
All these scenarios have a couple of things in common: One, the more information you have on why you make these decisions, the better equipped to actually make them you’ll be, and two, at the core of every single one of those, the biggest factor I should have considered is: ‘Will I be a better version of myself if I do this?’.
In this topic we’ll get to Data Science. I promise. It does seem like a random pivot to a different topic, but hear me out.
This year has been one of the most intense years I’ve ever had. Take the pandemic aside, I have not been away anywhere for over a year, have ended a relationship, have decided to spend less time with some friends, and have quit my job. ‘That’s terrible’ one may think, but for me, even though some of those things were extremely hard to do, I realised I was doing them for the right reason: To become a better version of myself. And that is the goal I want to accomplish from now on. Every day of every year, just being a little bit better than the day before. If that is what I strive to do, instead of trying to be happy, trying to not be uncomfortable, trying to be rich or trying to be healthy, those things lose their grip over you, and funnily enough, become easier to achieve. I’m not saying I’m rich and a hundred percent comfortable with my situation (actually quite the opposite), but these things are a process. The more you put in the more you take out. You reap what you sow, the proverb says.
Now what the hell does this all have to do with Data Science?
Everything I described to you today was a process. A process of understanding what is relevant and what is the desired outcome. Of getting information, filtering it and analyzing it. Of creating a model, making predictions and visualizing outcomes. For those that don’t already know it, that is exactly the Data Science Process I’m starting to learn.
Let’s take the losing weight situation for instance. The doctor that day, and I remember it clearly, said ‘It’s not like you’re obese or anything, just a bit overweight’. I misread the whole situation and tunnel visioned: I acted on little and biased information I had, blocking out any other opinions, even after I was much healthier. If I was to rethink the situation with a Data Scientist mindset, I’d have gathered more information, being careful to filter it properly (your grandma saying you look fine and giving you chocolate cookies is not the most reliable source for this). I’d have created a model of how I think I wanted to look; in what clothes I wanted to fit in again for instance. I’d have made a proper diet and exercise program, and made a prediction of how I wanted to be in a certain number of months. Then having visualized all that, I’d know exactly what I’d have to do to reach those goals.
This may seem like a silly example, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, and I managed to find more and more areas where to apply that train of thought. I now see Data Science as a tool for improvement that can be applied at many levels. Country-wise - How does a country want to look like in ten years? What is the relevant information it can gather to create a model that could lead it getting there?; Enterprise-wise - How I want my company to look like in ten years?; or even on a personal level - How I want to look like in ten years? (As a last sidenote, I’ve been doing therapy for the last seven months, and the process is very similar. Understand where you want to be as a person in the future, gather information on yourself and relationships, filter out the noise, analise it, understand yourself, make predictions and make visualizations. Fantastic thing isn’t it?).
What I love about it is that it’s applications are endless, and if used right, it can impact people’s lives in a variety of (un)foreseeable ways.
I hope I managed to convey my thoughts clearly over here on why I’m pursuing this change. It’s not about the Maths, about the Code, about the status or about the money. It’s about improving myself. Being the better version of myself I can be. And hopefully giving that power to others: to whatever person, enterprise or entity that seeks to improve themselves, but lack the tools to do it properly right now.