An in-exhaustive list of things I didn’t expect to know

In 2012, I graduated college with a degree in International Relations and entered the job market. After a long and frustrating search, I landed a writing job at a children’s hospital, and a few years later, a healthcare IT company. My knowledge of the UN, parliamentary procedure, and peacekeeping hasn’t gotten much richer in the past six years, but I’ve picked up some interesting tidbits along the way:

  • Until a few years ago, Rwanda had fewer than 20 pediatricians in the entire country.
  • There are still a few people who use iron lungs, which were invented to help polio patients with advanced symptoms breathe.
  • Because neuroimaging technology is designed mainly for adults, there’s still a lot we don’t know about infant brains
  • The total length of all the body’s arteries, capillaries and veins can reach up to 60,000 miles — enough to wrap around the earth twice.
  • Vintage music tee-shirts are really, really expensive.

I learned all this and so much more by interviewing people for stories — patient stories, profiles, historical features, and more. The last one, about vintage clothing, I learned last week when I started working on the second project of my UX Design immersive at General Assembly. UX design and writing might not have a ton in common, but they do both provide fodder for anyone curious about the world.

Being a good — or decent — writer means being curious about the world. And one of the best parts of writing is learning a little more than you knew the day before about the world and the people in it. It’s not so different in UX, as I’m learning. So much of good UX design is about asking the right questions. If someone doesn’t have enough time to cook breakfast in the morning, don’t make them a meal prep kit. Ask them why. Then ask them why again. Pretty soon, you’ll end up in a place neither of you expected to be.

It’s only the third week of my program, though it feels like I’ve been in it for much longer, but I’m excited about all the things I’m not expecting to learn during the next part of my career. In the meantime, the list of things I don’t know at all continues to grow, including:

  • How, exactly, does Instagram’s algorithm work?
  • Does anyone actually like the taste of licorice?
  • Why was the lobster in The Little Mermaid the only one with a Caribbean accent? Are they in the Caribbean? Did he just travel a lot?
  • What, exactly, is Dr. Pepper?
  • Why Daenerys, why?!

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