On learning…

Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea,
never regains its original dimensions.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I’m taking a programming class. I hate it. I don’t know why I decided to do this. I blame my daughter. The first few weeks I opened the book and did my homework in an hour and felt like, “I’ve got this.” Last Tuesday night, I opened my book after work ready to knock off some quick assignments, but it did not go as well. Seriously, it made me question my ability to function as an adult. When my daughter called, I was ready to drop the class or cry (but maybe I was already crying). She talked me down off the screaming edge that night, and I was able to hand in half of my homework (due that evening). But it shook my confidence, and I am feeling edgy about it now.

I don’t know why this surprises me. I have been taking classes for the better half of two decades. I was a late bloomer, and what that meant to me was I had already stopped doing all of the things I didn’t do well. I can’t spell, I can’t draw, I can’t sing, and I don’t do those things because I already know I that I’m not good at them. As an older student, I found the most difficult part of learning to be simply admitting I didn’t know how to do it. I really hate admitting that. The next worst part was doing something badly. I don’t want to do it badly. I want to do it well. But doing it badly is the first step to doing it well. It’s called learning.

So many of us have long since given up on the things we don’t do well. We develop our strengths, the things we do well and get even better at them. There is nothing wrong with that. But what happens when we stop learning and growing? What happens when stop taking risks and learning new things? What happens when we stop putting ourselves in the position of not knowing?

I am taking a class, partly to give myself the illusion of freedom, but mostly to just keep learning. I don’t think I will give up my day job to become a programmer, but I might. I like to think I could. Spending my days dealing with pure logic definitely has some appeal. This class reminds me what learning feels like, the time it takes, and the frustration of the process. It also reminds me of the importance of continuing to stretch my mind and grow in new ways. I will continue to work through the material. It will take some adjustments… like not waiting until the night its due. I will struggle and eventually learn something. It is probably good for me to realize my not knowing, and struggle a bit. But I still hate it.

So, what are you learning?


This is part of a 31 day writing challenge. If you are interested in following along, you can find the rest of the series here. Thank you for stopping by!

2 thoughts on “On learning…

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