Learning new things

I love learning new things.

I feel like I’m making the best use of my time when I do. Of course, being the person I am, unless it’s something truly, madly epic, I lose interest – fast.

The result is a hodgepodge of unpracticed skills (which I most certainly have). To that end, I can play maybe four chords on a guitar and one or two songs on the piano (that I learned by heart. I can write basic code (and am in the process of coding a choose-your-adventure game right now!). I can draw a little, read Korean Hangul (one word at a time), understand bits and pieces of Japanese and say “hello” and “I love you” in at least 7 other languages. I can write articles on a lot of subjects (even ones I know nothing about). I can do arts and crafts and solve a Rubik’s cube (my average time is 5 minutes).

All pretty useful if I really concentrated on one of them, but that’s the thing. Doing what I want when I want kind of gives me the freedom to enjoy what I do whenever I do it. There’s no pressure to be great. There’s no challenge either. I can go at my own pace, get what I need from it an move on.

The down-side is that I can’t really count any of these as a real skill. Learning something new usually involves a challenge.

Putting aside the complexities of growing neural connections in your brain and all that biological stuff, there are a few hurdles to overcome in learning new things:

  1. Knowledge – I like knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Knowing things is cool. Understanding complexities is cool. My favourite topics in math were Navigation and Integration and Differentiation. They posed the biggest challenges to most of my classes but I revelled in the challenge of taking them on. I can’t solve a single sum now without a brief refresher, but I did like the knowledge part.I feel the same about my one true love – Psychology. I discovered this gem some years back and now, I can’t imagine having studied anything else. I still need to do a Masters to actually practice, but I look forward to it – all of it.
  2. Stick-to-it-iveness – This is the difficult part and maybe the reason I’m so flighty with my -ahem- “hobbies”. Once you choose something to learn, you need to commit to get to the point where you can say you’ve actually learned it.Once the hard stuff becomes small beans (or at least medium hard), you’re on your way. You just need to stick to it, keep practicing and it’ll all pay off in the end.
  3. Ask.for.help – I kind of struggle woth this one too. I like to do things by myself. It gives me a sense of independence when I manage things by myself and for someone with low self esteem, that can be a major boost. However, if there’s one thing life has taught me, it’s that you can’t do it all by yourself, all the time. It doesn’t hurt to seek counsel from someone older and/or wiser for advice.

Learning is fun, whether it’s a new job, a fancy new art form or how to crack a tough equation in particle physics (if there are any). You just need the right stuff to get you started.

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