Is there a trick to learn new things? It seems like people are either talented or they’re not.
Because we all envy other people. We look at their skills and accomplishments and it makes us jealous.
We’re jealous because we feel cheated at life, like we lost the life-lottery and weren’t born in the right country or to the right parents. We’re mad that we weren’t pushed as kids and forced to be a doctor.
But you know what? There’s nothing that another person has done, that you can’t figure out how to do for yourself.
How to Learn New Things – Physics
My hardest class in high school was Senior Physics. Senior Physics kicked my butt.
For one, physics is sort of an absolute science. There’s a bunch of rules and a lot math.
Gravity? You mean you can crunch some numbers to figure out gravitational forces? It hurts your brain just thinking about it.
The actual course subject was one thing, but the way it was presented was another.
My teacher forced us to learn on our own. At the time it felt like absolute torture, but it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received in life.
How to Learn New Things – Easy
Let’s get one thing straight: High school is easy. I think I took a nap during most of my classes and passed just by having a heartbeat.
High school teachers stand up front and verbally tell you everything. They’re like, “Hey this is how you conjugate this Spanish verb, now let’s do it together. I’ll show you how.”
You’d have to be a moron to not appreciate this handholding.
But high school is an anomaly. This is not how life works.
For those of you wanting to drop out of high school, you need a reality check. High school is a cakewalk. The rest of life is so much harder.
How to Learn New Things – Reading
But that physics class, he made us read out of the text book and teach ourselves! Oh, the humanity! That should be a crime in 48 states!
That felt really hard. It was a hard class. I had a hard time passing and I was pissed off all the time.
I was glad to finally graduate, and be done with that torture. It was finally time to move on to college where I could chase my wildest dreams and cure world hunger.
How to Learn New Things – College
Guess what? If high school is a cakewalk, college is like getting that cake forced down your throat with a firehose. You’re like drowning and choking on the delicious sugary dessert and desperately want the pain to stop.
Fall semester, freshman year of college, I had a hard time.
Sure, some classes were simple and reminiscent of high school. But lots of them weren’t.
Calculus was like a deer in the headlights. The professor would briefly show a problem, then make us learn it on our own.
Oh, and there was no assigned homework. At first I thought that aspect was great. There were “suggested” problems to solve, but we didn’t have to hand anything in.
As difficult as the Calculus subject matter was, I at least enjoyed the easy workload. No homework felt like a dream.
That was, until, the first test came. My grade: “F.” I failed, straight up. I think I got a zero.
I wasn’t use to failing, so that hurt. But I also didn’t know how to fix it. I figured I’d try again or listen harder to the teacher.
Then the next test: “F.”
This was becoming a royal nightmare.
How to Learn New Things – Learning
Because I’m stubborn, I stuck with the course. A wise student would have dropped it, so a bad grade wouldn’t affect their record, but that’s not how I role.
I like to stare failure in the face. I like to think I can overcome anything.
The professor kindly pulled me aside and said, “Listen, you need an A on the final to pass the course.”
So that was my challenge. In the span of Finals Week, I was determined to learn all the Calculus problems I had been avoiding an entire semester.
And you know what? I did it. It sucked a lot and I had to study late into the night. Every night. I had to ask upper classmen in my dorm for help. I had to fight, scratch, and kick my way into the Final Exam.
The Final Exam came and I was ready. I had the world’s most detailed cheat-sheet with the tiniest of writing, but I was ready. I had learned Calculus and I was ready.
I got a “C+” on the Final. Far away from my goal. But I was incredibly proud of my effort.
And now I had actually learned the material. I knew how Calculus worked. I felt like the professor would pass me just because of my apparent overnight success.
Nope. As a final grade for the course, I got a “D+.”
Ugh. At least I hadn’t totally failed, but I would need to take the class again in the spring.
But this time, I’d be ready.
How to Learn New Things – Dreams
Learning things isn’t easy, but it can be done.
The biggest lesson I learned from college was how to teach myself anything. I don’t remember anything about Calculus or any of the ridiculous classes they make you take.
But that’s not the point. It’s that you’ve suffered through four years of trials, forcing yourself to learn new concepts, and to pass arbitrary tests proving your mastery of the subject.
Is the college experience worth the cost? Yes, definitely. But is it prerequisite to learn things in life? Absolutely not.
You have the power to learn new things. You are your own obstacle. Read a book, practice, and find other people who are successful.
If there’s a dream you want to chase, go after it, and teach yourself the necessary skills.
There’s no dream out there that’s too impossible to pursue. Because there’s already another person who’s done it, paving the way for you.
Do you feel like a stupid moron? Can you teach yourself new skills? What’s holding you back from chasing a dream?