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It may not be the kind of question I am supposed to ask here.I apologize if I violate any terms and conditions.But I really need an answer to it.I am in my mid 20s and just another average guy.But for long questions about the origins of the world,purpose of life,the ultimate goal of the professional rat-race, all these have been bothering me.I am not the hippie kind who would quit it all.I am rational and believe in scientific reasoning.I respect the professional life but I also know my insecurity about the questions related to the world around me,about Nature,about the Universe,about the pattern of things makes sense.Further, I also highly regard my professional engineering life and all the material security it affords me.

On these premises, which I have tried my best to describe,here is my question to all you people,especially those who are 45+ dedicated mathematicians/engineers/scientists, those who know about Mathematics deeply and know professional and social life much better due to experience.

---Is a life-long dedication to Mathematics, in the form of committing a few hours a day,both in terms of time and dedication, WORTH IT?Will it go a long way in helping me in my professional engineering life as well as helping me in understanding nature later in life when I go for it with full-fledged dedication?Nature is after all best described in mathematics....I am not that gifted, but I can see that mathematics has been the continuous thread that links us to our ancestors thousands of years and beyond, and it will continue to link us to the future.Everything may change but laws of nature and laws of Mathematics remains constant---

To be clear, let me put it succinctly--Is the commitment in terms of time and effort worth every bit of it? (I didn't intend the question to be so roundabout, but sitting alone by the beach-side and looking at the dark starry sky, raises questions in my mind that drives me insane,GIVES ME THE CREEPS..PLEASE HELP!!)

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closed as off topic by Zev Chonoles, Andres Caicedo, Amzoti, Daniel Rust, Henry T. Horton Jun 12 '13 at 0:51

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Speaking as a 17-year old, I probably can't give you much in terms of life experience. What I can say, however, is that I think you (and anyone) should do what you enjoy above all. This raises the question - do you enjoy Mathematics? –  Daniel Littlewood Jan 12 '13 at 11:54
@Ivy: there is no such thing as gifted. There are people who can seem gifted to you but that's just because they started out sooner and correspondingly they know a huge amount of math already. But all of them still had to spend more or less as much time as you do on learning every subject one by one. –  Marek Jan 12 '13 at 12:13
Great question! Unfortunately it doesn't belong here, but I'd be happy to participate in a discussion about it where it does. I'm flagging it so that it can be copied to an appropiate section, but I only will ask this: it all depends on what you qualify as $\,"worth"\,$ . Mathematicians are not usually rich people, (unless they inherited big time, rob banks or rich elserlies...or won a fat prize likethe Fields Medal), but I think most of us enjoy deeply dealing with mathematics, which takes us back to Daniel's comment. –  DonAntonio Jan 12 '13 at 12:16
Perhaps a more constructive approach to this idea might be to change the question to something like: "How has studying math enhanced or benefited your life or work?" As it stands, the title "Is it worth it?" sounds somewhat negative, but it is definitely a very personal question which won't have a very clear answer. –  robjohn Jan 12 '13 at 13:58
@Marek: There is clearly a broad range of mathematical ability; some people are mathematically more gifted than others. What is true is that one needn’t be extraordinarily gifted mathematically to work successfully in the field: work and persistence are just as important. –  Brian M. Scott Jan 12 '13 at 16:53

1 Answer 1

Well I quit my whole career (IT manager) and decided to start completely over by going to college for mathematics. I didn't find a love for math until I was 24. I'm now 27 and I am extremely happy with my decision. There is not a day that goes by that I don't see the beautiful patterns everywhere.

You have about 80 years of life on average if you're fortunate. Spend them doing what you love, because you probably won't get them back.

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