Note to Self

Episode 3

Aarish Shah


Night time shot of Hong Kong street, with the street signs hanging everywhere over an empty street with one passer by.

I am always worried about not knowing enough, or making a mistake because I hadn’t investigated something thoroughly enough, it is the bane of being a generalist and of having fairly deep rooted imposter syndrome.

I’ve written about both of these things in the past and don’t think that I need to rehash them here, but I did want to explore the need to learn / know more a little more.

I think my desire to learn stems not just out of curiosity, a passion for reading and a broad enjoyment of many different topics, but also from boredom.

This is also one of the reasons I have ended up such a generalist. When everything excites you a little, nothing excites you a lot.

This is why I pepper my way through subject matter, courses, books or articles but never pick up a second or third, potentially more detailed, source and keep going.

I like to scratch at the surface, gain insight and move on. I don’t like to dwell and delve so deep that I can’t find my way back out again.

I would find the thought of doing a PhD quite daunting (not that it isn’t daunting in any case) just from the fact that I would need to dedicate myself to one thing, to explore a thread to its root, to its origin forsaking everything else for it.

And to me that sounds horrendous.

But I digress.

The point was why I like to learn.

I have always enjoyed knowledge for knoweldge’s sake, and recently whilst reading Why Students don’t like School I learned that a good base of general knowledge helps with further learning in any subject. Because in order to learn you need to know.

So that leads to a self reinforcing cycle I think, at least in the way I percieve things — I absorb knowledge in order to learn more, in learning more I absorb more knowledge which allows me to learn more again — and so on, a self referential loop that just keeps on giving.

I also think that my childhood, with a mother who read to me constantly, a family that travelled extensively and of course schools that challenge me heavily maintained that thirst for knowledge, that curiosity about the world out there. There’s also something quite interesting about taking the world out there and bringing it in here — that is into one’s own mind — and then allowing yourself to explore it unfettered by what the weather might be doing or what a teacher might have asked you to think about.

Working with very early stage ventures, as I do, means that I am constantly thowing myself up against the improbably, sometimes the impossible. Because everything a startup does is testing what we know today, challenging the assumptions that constrict us to do things this way or that way. And to do this, one must learn, explore, think.

I may never satisfy my desire to learn, in fact I know I won’t but maybe that is the joy, it is narcotic in its ability to excite and inspire me and to bring me back always for more.



Aarish Shah

Generalist | Thinker | Life Long Learner | Writer | Photographer