Learning might not be the right thing for you

May 19, 2022

The blinds had been pulled down, the classroom was dark and a scene from Batman was playing on the pull-down projector screen. Dust was slowly swirling past the light coming out from the projector lens as I changed from one numb butt cheek to a fresh one. The hum of the projector during the quiet parts of the movie overpowered the projector’s crappy sound system (you can’t call the one speaker in the projector a sound system, can you?). So this is how you learn grammar is it? By watching movies? 

Our new teacher, in her sixties, with grey straight hair and a polka cut revealing black streaks, wearing a dark blue dress and eyes that were sunken in their sockets had escaped the room as soon as the movie started playing.

A few months ago we were all still sitting in a different sun-filled classroom with a different teacher all working intensely and learning new grammatical rules as intended. I was struggling but excited because our teacher was excellent. Demanding, but kind and very good at explaining the rules in an easily understandable format. She wore cat-like red glasses, had her bronze-colored hair tied up in a curly bun above her head and her light yellow dress reminded me of an angel sent from the heavens.

Two weeks later the class was divided into two. Those who were good at grammar. And those who were less so. You can probably tell the group I fell into.

Not long after I figured I was in the wrong group. I wanted to learn. To get better. So you can understand my excitement when one day I saw my old angel from above sitting on the same bus I got on. I walked up to her seat and asked if I could sit next to her. After a few awkward moments, I turned and asked her if there was any chance to get back to her class. The pain of rejection probably erased the next part from my memory so you’re just going to have to imagine it.

I was no bright kid. Far from it. But I was eager to learn even though everything from math to chemistry was a struggle.

So I turned to something I was naturally talented in. Sports. And more specifically snowboarding. 

By the time I was 18 I had turned pro. For the next 8-years I traveled around the world sometimes performing in arenas in front of hundreds of people and sometimes in the middle of the backcountry performing in front of not one but two birds and one guinea pig who didn’t care less.

All I wanted to do was to get better and learn everything. I loved improving.

Your ability to learn and build on the shoulders of our ancestor’s learnings gives humanity its greatest advantage to make progressive leaps in science, mathematics, physics, biology, and so on.

I believe learning is the root of happiness and it can be a healthy way to combat boredom, loneliness, and even depression. Learning gives hope, excitement, and it can connect like-minded people like nothing else. Nurturing a passion for learning can be the most valuable thing in your life.

But having a passion for learning can also be the worst thing. It can alienate you from your friends if you learn faster or slower than them. If you set too high expectations for yourself learning can be filled with disappointment, and never feel like you are fulfilled. Which can in turn make challenges feel impossible and struggle unworthy. Mistakes can feel like a failure if you don’t see them being a mandatory part of learning, not optional. Learning fuelled by having the need to outdo others, to prove everyone wrong can become a vicious never-ending cycle where no winners are crowned.

But I digress.

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beard
plenty more loot in the vault

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