In 2006 I was a normal teenager doing my final year exams; life was good, I was a happy girl preparing for the future. I wasn’t excited nor nervous, I figured it would be easy. ‘I’m gonna leave school, go to college and it’ll be fine.’ But it wasn’t. It turned out I didn’t have a bloody clue what I wanted to do and I’ve had a record-breaking attempt at 3 college courses, 1 sixth form enrolment and 2 failed university degrees. I’ve always worked hard and never been out of a job but when it came to education I was at a loose end and my motivation was zapped for a number of reasons but mainly it was lack of self-belief and difficulty in envisioning the end goal. I was frustrated with myself but felt like I couldn’t do anything about it.
In 2010 I began to question what I loved as I knew I wanted a career in something I enjoyed and felt passionate about; it was a quick answer ‘people’! I was interested in people; I loved listening, asking questions and understanding so I began to plan how I was going to make this happen. ‘Firstly, I should make sure this is a genuine interest and not just a flippant idea and I need to learn more about ‘people’’. So off I trotted and signed up to volunteer with families that needed support – it started with a 10-week course to learn the ropes and in no time, I was hooked! Learning week after week with a group of likeminded people – I never felt so motivated!
By my 3rd university degree people had lost faith in me and assumed I’d quit but guess what…I didn’t! I stuck at every single year and graduated. Without appearing too much of a boasting arsehole; I AM PROUD OF MYSELF! Because I got there in the end.
Learning doesn’t have to be in the classroom
I enjoy learning (you don’t start that many courses for no reason) but it doesn’t have to be restricted to academic courses – the traditional way of learning isn’t always the most effective anyway. Have you ever had a conversation that’s taught you something? Or told everyone about that interesting fact you learnt the other day? I learnt some interesting facts about seahorse’s reproduction recently but I won’t bore you with that. You can learn in the most insignificant of moments and that’s what it’s about; being open to absorbing new information to allow self-development – even if it’s learning about seahorses.
Why is learning important?
Learning allows us to adapt to change – in life there’s a lot of change whether that be getting your own home, changing career, getting married, making new friends, having a baby or having to feed ourselves because one day our parents stop doing that and we are suddenly expected to know how to make the perfect poached egg. Learning keeps the brain healthy; research has found that learning keeps the brain functioning at a high level and can slow down the process of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Learning can even fight boredom and create motivation to enrich our lives!
Why would we ever think ‘I’m done with learning’?
I’ve probably said those words through frustration as something isn’t going to plan BUT that’s rubbish because we never stop learning. So why do we say it? Is it poor self-belief? We sometimes don’t believe we can do something so we choose to not do it at all. I get that, I was diagnosed with dyslexia from a young age and it made me doubt myself and feel less capable than some of my thriving friends. But I’ve learnt that we are all capable and it’s only our negative beliefs that hold us back.
Maybe your motivation holds you back? Or are you stuck in a rut? Are you that person that isn’t happy but you fear change? Bite the bullet and get out there. Sometimes the changes we want are difficult because we have a mortgage to pay, children to feed or are drowning in debt but it doesn’t have to hinder our learning altogether. It’s the small steps towards those goals that count and yeah, you might hit a stumbling block but don’t make that a reason to give up.
Ways to keep learning
What’s that thing you’ve always wanted to do? For me it’s playing an instrument; I admire people who beautifully play the piano or smash it out on the drums so I’ve committed to lessons to learn to play the guitar. I know it’s going to be frustrating because it’s new but I’m trying to focus on the end goal where I’m sitting next to an open fire pretending I’m some cool hippy chick. If you aren’t interested in piercing the ear drums of others, you could learn a craft such as knitting or macrame. Or what about a new language? Or it could be asking questions, researching something you are interested in or signing up for an online or local course. Just remember curiosity helps us learn so question, question and question again!
We also learn from sometimes saying ‘I don’t know’ – we don’t know everything. I can’t pretend to be an astronaut but I can ask questions to learn and understand what they do. Perhaps you want to develop your confidence to learn how to give that terrifying presentation without feeling like you’re going to poop your pants. The goal is whatever you make it but it’s likely you’ll need to learn along the way.
“Never stop learning; for when we stop learning, we stop growing”.