I was listening to someone share how they were struggling to learn a new subject that was entirely out of their comfort zone.
Interested in what they were doing, I asked them to share a specific topic that they were struggling with. And they did.
To my delight, although I did not understand the topic completely. I could see pinpoints of light shining through. Some of the material, although completely unfamiliar, felt intuitive.
So, I tried to share what I understood with that person but they couldn’t work with it and eventually dropped the topic.
Just like the other person, I was not familiar with the topic that they were learning. And we had very similar educational backgrounds. And yet, I was able to pick up a few strands and knew I could unravel the subject while they saw a tangled mess and dropped it.
The only difference between us was that I had spent a lifetime forcing myself to learn things even if it was hard and irrelevant.
So when the time came to learn something completely new, it was possible to focus, turn the content into images in my head, and make some sense of the material. Even if it was not perfect.
But for people who drop learning something the moment it creates discomfort, that ability to doggedly make sense of a strange subject never develops.
Why ‘Impractical’ and Uninteresting Knowledge Still Matters
Why bother studying something or learning it if it doesn’t come easily to you?
Because sometimes you have no choice.
And I don’t mean that in the context of studying in school, where social, cultural, and legal institutions compel children to get basic schooling.
A large number of people realize that they need to upgrade their skills if they want to make more money. Or more challenging still, they desperately want to leave an industry and get into a new one.
When you’re older, already having a job, and have a family to provide for, your time, resources, and options are limited.
Your previous education and experience can also limit the skills you can pick up even if you’re determined to change careers.
Being able to learn is a fundamental skill that you may need at any time in life. If you make it a practice to learn things at school and at work even if it seems tedious, you are not wasting your time!
You are honing your brain’s ability to learn. It doesn’t matter what the content is so long as you’re keeping the mechanism oiled and running, ready to process new material.
The Process of Learning Matters As Much as the Content
Keeping your mind sharp prevents mental degeneration as you grow older. It’s also an activity that creates goals and rewards similar to games (bear with me, I meant it!) that makes you feel good.
Try to fall in love with the process of learning even if the subject you’re studying isn’t of interest to you. The rewards are subtle and often immeasurable. You’ll only know how learning new things helps when the time comes that you have to learn something for personal and professional growth.
This blog is all about fostering a love of learning, reading, and writing in adults. If you liked what you’ve read, then share this post with people you think will be interested.
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