Becoming a Self Learner – Curiosity
Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness. – Bryant H. McGill
A self-learner, or someone who is autodidactic, takes it upon themselves to learn a skill or gain knowledge without formal instruction. Taking a class or getting instruction in an area may be part of your self-learning process but you are the one taking the initiative to learn and expand your knowledge in a way and direction you choose.
I have a strong belief in the value of self-learning. It saved me when I was a struggling new mom.
I had a hard time adjusting to becoming a stay-at-home mom. I knew it was the right decision for my family but I still found myself frustrated. There is an amount of self confidence and validation that comes from providing money for your family. Before I was home with my baby, I could see the contribution I made to our family in monetary value. I wasn’t prepared for how I would feel when that monetary compensation and contribution ceased.
My first (and second and fourth) baby cried a lot. I had a hard time nursing her. I looked at my post-partum body and didn’t recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. No one told me I did a good job when I managed to get up and take a shower before noon, even though that was a major accomplishment. I didn’t get a pat on the back because I successfully got groceries and remembered to bring my baby in from the car. Being a mom pushed me physically and emotionally and I expected that, but I was not prepared for the mentally challenging part.
I tried watching TV but that made me feel like my brain was oozing out my ear. I tried crossword puzzles, word searches, and I even tried brushing up on my Spanish. Nope didn’t work for me. Eventually, I turned to reading. After all, I could read and rock a baby at the same time. I read scriptures, silly romances, What to Expect the First Year, and books on ways to make babies stop crying.
It soon became a game to me. I would go to the library and wander through the racks and grab any book that caught my eye. I grabbed whatever sparked my curiosity which included books on cooking, parenting, math, water color painting, astronomy, and biographies.
That was my first step and if you’re struggling too it can be yours, spark your curiosity.
Pay attention to what piques your interest. For example, listen to the news and write down the stories you find interesting. Maybe there are laws, people, or world events that you want to understand better.
Another example, I used to watch Gilmore Girls and The West Wing when I was in college. Both shows are fast paced and often have literary or cultural references that I didn’t recognize when I first watched the shows. Back then shrugged and pretended I knew what they were talking about but now I’ll write down a reference so I can get back to it later.
So I ask you, what sparks your curiosity? Do you watch sports and find yourself curious about a team or player or coach? If sports aren’t your thing is there a skill you’ve always wondered about? Are there events in history you keep running over in your mind? I went through a two week period that I couldn’t find enough information on the Donnor/Reed party. I don’t know why I couldn’t stop reading about it. I have done the same thing with the Titanic and World War II.
Maybe history doesn’t interest you but could photography, photoshop, finance, writing, Tibetan Singing Bowls? (Seriously, I checked a CD out from the library that was Tibetan Singing Bowls. Turns out I don’t like Tibetan Singing Bowls but I didn’t know until I tried it.) The best part of self-learning is that you can decide what you want to learn and how you are going to learn it. I went through another period, when my girls were younger, that I looked up blogs about hairstyles for little girls. It was great fun until my girls decided they didn’t like me fixing their hair.
The first step is curiosity. The next time you are watching tv, having a conversation, or stumble upon a topic in a magazine and say to yourself ‘what is that’? Write it down.
Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning. – William Arthur Ward