You Can Learn Anything You Want, Just Don’t Quit
I had a revelation yesterday. Sometimes that happens to me. I’m minding my own business when a crystal clear thought slaps me in the face. It was more like a knowing, actually, and it told me that we can really learn anything, all that matters is perseverance.
And that, my friends, hit the proverbial nail on the head. I have been known to go from one thing to another for some time now, feeling incompetent and really bad about myself, because of my inability of developing any exceptional skill. So, does that mean there’s something wrong with me? Not at all.
I recently discovered that there are many people who do not find their one true calling, rather they are learning many different things and combining them uniquely together. They’re called multipotentialites. I know, it’s a mouthful. I thought, great, nothing’s wrong with me after all, there are others like me and this trait can actually be of benefit!
But, I still felt inadequate. Without much to show for after all these years of dabbling in different areas, like: working as a croupier in a casino, learning how to mix drinks at the bar, photography, pole dancing, break dancing, drawing, roller derby, rope acrobatics, lucid dreaming, addictology, ecology, playing guitar, coding, the list goes on.
There are different stages at which I’ve left these skills. Sometimes, I just read about it; sometimes, I try it and realize I don’t like it all that much; other times, I stick with it for a few months before it kinda dissipates into the hum of everyday life. Some skills I still really like and have interest to learn, but didn’t continue doing. Why?
The Reason Behind Quitting
This might differ for each person, but I found these main reasons for quitting:
- Boredom (you thought it would be more fun than it actually is);
- Frustration/ Failure (you take failures too personally);
- Limiting Beliefs (this is when your subconscious mind decides to throw sticks under your feet);
- Self-sabotage (when you don’t allow yourself to receive all the goodness).
With most of the skills I started learning, I felt discouraged and demotivated to continue because of, what to me looked like constant failures. I was always quite hard on myself, with high standards and self-criticism, which only led to frustration and resentment towards whatever I was learning. I had little patience, and wanted to be awesome almost straight away. That is how I abandoned a significant portion of my endeavours. I killed it.
If the Key Is to Persevere, How Can I?
Do you ever go hiking? I really dislike walking up the hill, it’s like a torture of some kind to me. But, every now and again I decide to hit the mountains, anyway. Why? I want to enjoy the beautiful environment, and let’s be honest, feel the sense of achievement it brings.
My point is, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to get there. If I only walked a few metres from my house and decided it’s too much work, I wouldn’t get there. If I stopped before the peak, and cried about the pain and tiredness in my body, I wouldn’t get there. We understand that. With learning skills it’s the same.
TO LEARN ANYTHING IS TO MAKE MISTAKES
Do not mind the mistakes and failings. They are important steps in learning and that’s how you become better. There’s no point in crying over making a mistake as it is, in fact, a learning experience.
It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good.
— Paula Scher
When I applied for an animation school, and didn’t get accepted, I felt so down that I stopped drawing for a long time. When I applied for a circus school, and didn’t get accepted, I felt like crap and abandoned all my dreams of ever becoming an acrobat.
All those rejections were there to ask – how badly do you want this? If I have continued with it and persevered, I would have eventually been accepted. But I took it personally and thought, I’m not good enough. That I’m not ever gonna make it. That I don’t have that talent, I don’t have the skill. I felt so discouraged that I couldn’t continue.
Ralph Smart says: “The difference between the master and a student is that the master has failed more times than the student has even tried.” Be patient with yourself and welcome the mistakes as the growing factor.
Also, do not take yourself too seriously. This is something I still do myself, but I am reminding myself that it’s not that big of a deal. Making a mistake is not a grave danger (at least not in most of the things we are trying to learn). You have to ease up on yourself a bit, and allow yourself to be bad before being good.
FIND SOMETHING YOU LIKE DOING, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT IT
You gotta really like something to be able to do it while not getting the reward of it, i.e. when you still suck at it. Some people just will themselves through this phase, I suppose, but I think it’s better to do what you really like so much so that you don’t care looking stupid for a while.
It will help you to weed out the skills you’re only ‘interested in’, but not really passionate about. Like drawing for me. The last time I checked, I absolutely hated the process, I couldn’t get myself to sit down and draw, it was a pain in the butt. All I wanted was the end result, right.
Now, with things I actually enjoy, I don’t dwell on the result as much. Every time I try to do a hand stand, for example, it doesn’t hurt me to fail again and again.
Enjoying the process really is critical in persevering, ‘coz this process has no end. Even the teachers are still learning. I’m learning hand stands from wonderful yoga teachers and they still take classes from someone else. Your level changes, but there is always more, you can always learn more.
DO NOT GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF
Keep your focus on your goal, but enjoy the process all the same. Do not compare yourself at your level 1 to somebody at level 50. Really, don’t. It’ll make you miserable and possibly make you want to quit. It happened, true story. Comparing ourselves generally doesn’t serve us. There are so many variables that it’s never a fair comparison, anyway.
Every person that mastered any skill had to start somewhere, too. They might not remember their beginnings anymore, but they too were, at some point, really shitty at it. It’s a process, okay.
Some people get motivated by seeing what others are doing, but I tend to get discouraged. If you are the latter type, save yourself the misery and just focus on your own work. Immerse yourself in your own creation and do not mind others.
What to Take Away From This
The main point of this article is, that you can learn anything you want, all you need to do is to stick with it. Love what you are doing. Enjoy the process of learning. Don’t mind being a beginner – it’s just a stage which everyone has to go through.
- Pick the thing you love practicing, not the thing you love the end state of.
- Don’t take mistakes and failures personally. See them as important lessons to learn and become better.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Ease into the never-ending process of learning. It is not about being perfect or being finished. It’s a practice 🙂