Posts Tagged ‘Learning new things’

a detail of a page from William Morgan's 1588 ...

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I see myself as a pretty well-educated woman. I went to a good secondary school and after that continued to university and have two degrees to show for it. Was I a top of the class student? No. I am no genius nor am I intellectually challenged. I enjoyed learning and it did come to me pretty easily. When I left school I could have a conversation in 5 different languages, translate texts from Latin, have discussions about philosophy, history and in-depth sociological analysis etc. I devoured scientific magazines and was pretty aware of the state of the world in general.

All good yes..? So what has happened? Today I have lost the ability to communicate in 2 of the 5 languages I once knew. Forget Latin. I stumble when I try to remember what I once learned. It actually feels like I have become dumber. The only focus is to learn new things that are work related and even there I sometimes struggle. It is like my brain has developed a teflon shield that makes all new knowledge slide off into oblivion.

It is easy to say “oh just start reading up on everything again and it will come to you in no time”… well that is part of the problem I guess. I have no time to do so or I am so tired that I just cannot focus after work. I really admire anyone who studies in addition to holding down a full-time job.

So at one stage I developed this theory that working actually makes people dumber. In school you are constantly challenged in  many different subjects. There is always something new and wonderful. You discuss, analyze and apply what you learn. There is a never-ending stream of knowledge. In work-life… you focus on your work and the skills needed there. That is all you focus on. It becomes one-sided. Unless you can find a way to continue to grow your knowledge in other subjects and exercise your brain – the ability to learn and adapt is diminished.

I feel I have definitely fallen into this stage for a long time now. It has gotten to a point where I feel embarrassed. Feeling stupid is not something I do well. The worst thing is when a discussion is started and when I KNOW that this is something I used to know a lot about but the words fail me or the details do not appear. Ugh… hate that!

I think I will have to dust of those old books from university and actually make myself reconnect my brain cells again. Because moaning about it is not going to help really is it now…

Now why did I not stay in uni and do a PhD instead…?

Today I once again realized that it is so easy to set yourself up to failure by from the very start by saying “shit i can’t do that”. There I was at the club and our instructor was making us do all kinds of exercises, some more challenging than others.

One of these was that all stand in a row, two and two facing each other – holding on to each other with our arms… building a bridge with our arms. One person at a time then had to run and leap up on top of the arms, make his/hers way over to the other side, swing down and then make your way back to starting point again underneath the arms without touching the floor.

The instructor aptly decided to call this “Nush’s bridge” due to the groan and face I made when he said what we had to do. So there I was…when it was my turn… dreading it but not backing down. There was no way I was going to back out in front of all the lads. But yes, there was a small voice in me saying….”shit I will never get up there and then hang on underneath”. I tried once, twice and just did not get up… the lads were all shouting “come on”. Then my instructor said that I would use his back as a stamp off point…well, my first thought was that “hell I do not want to hurt his back” and off I went (trying to thread lightly). I made it up and managed to crawl over to the other side, swearing like a nutter at the same time cos there was just no way in hell I was not making it.

Yes, I had problems on the way back as the strength in my arms is not up to scratch yet but you know what… I am pretty chuffed that I got up (OK, with a bit of help) and managed to crawl across all the arms.

So today I learned something; do not say never, cannot do, no way… as then you will already have resigned yourself to fail. I thought “no way” and failed several attempts, then with some encouragement and my instructor saying “do not say never in here” I actually managed. No it was not perfect or graceful or even all the way, but I did not give up.

So I have to learn to say “Never say never to me” to myself (and yes, it is a quote from one of my favourite films (and book) as well – bonus points if you get it).

Now… it is time for bed as I am positively exhausted but smiling and can’t wait for the next training session!