10.18.21 - Weekly Writing Prompt #1

So as the title of this post suggests, yes this is going to be something I do every week. It's Monday today, and I decided it's as good a time as any to begin. Writing prompts are something I've wanted to take part in, for about...three years now. A good friend of mine, at the time, had a book of writing prompts that she would write in, whenever she had the chance, and it was instantly something I wanted to do. The thing is, I always told myself that I "don't have time", but I see now that I simply wasn't willing to put other non productive activities to the side, in order to make time. If I was willing to sacrifice all the time I spent on social media & video games there's really no telling where I'd be today. Not to say that I didn't handle my responsibilities, but I always had this sense of entitlement that said I "deserved" all the relaxation time I took, and a lot of that time was spent on social media.

But enough about my past (mediocre) time management skills. This idea arose (again), from a YouTuber named UnJaded Jade, and her video "How to actually ENJOY studying". She's part of a sort of niche YouTube community that makes content centered around productivity, studying, and self improvement. I can honestly say that this community lit the fire under me, that is still burning today, when it comes to being my most productive self. I can specifically reference Ali Abdaal as another person who contributed to my study methods. Anyway, at the end of Jade's video she refers to a list of writing prompts that the viewer can write about. It instantly sparked that curiosity, from three years ago, and I decided I was going to do it this time. Thank you for reading, if you do. Happy Monday!

Prompt: what are 3 reasons you love learning?

Three reasons I love learning...this first writing prompt might be easier than I thought.

Well, reason number one: i greatly enjoy watching things grow, from nothing, to something, especially by my own hand.

For instance, my days working manual labor, or being a logger in the forest. As a logger we would be dispatched to areas of the forest, whose vegetation needed culling. We would do private projects too, if a homeowner needed some trees chopped down on his property, but the forest jobs were always my favorite. When we got to the area it would most definitely just resemble a dilapidated, woodsy, and dreary forest that you could barely see through, let alone walk through. Fast forward a few days, or sometimes a couple weeks, and that dilapidated part of the woods would resemble an area that you could bring your family, and have a picnic, or just sit and enjoy nature. I loved it. All the hard work - chopping down 15 to 80 foot trees, delimbing the trees once they hit the ground, scooping up all the limbs, putting them in piles, throwing the limbs into a chipper, cutting the trunks into rounds, stacking those rounds, and finally cleaning up the remainder of the mess - had paid off, and we had essentially turned the forest into something that it wasn't before. Just us five guys. All the sweat, and often times blood, were worth the finished product. From an area where trees were dead, new trees weren't able to grow, and animals didn't flourish, now seemed as though new life was breathed into it. Deer would often run through the newly accessible area, when our chainsaws were off, and we were sitting on a break, or lunch. Every time I look at the scars on my body it reminds me of those good times.

The same can be said when it comes to learning. I enjoy being ignorant to a subject, and after some studying, having it slowly begin to make more, and more sense. Then, before I know it, I'm adept in whatever subject I'm learning. The formulas, or concepts, that once looked like gibberish I can now make sense of, and even utilize to some degree. I started with no knowledge whatsoever, and eventually worked my way up to understanding concepts, in full detail. It produces such a feeling of accomplishment that it's rivaled by very few things, in my opinion. On top of that, once I begin to understand these concepts, it begins to spill over into other parts of the subject. Learning many concepts allows you to bring in other concepts of the subject, and put them together, kind of like a puzzle. For instance, in computer networking I learned the steps that go into a computer sending, and receiving traffic over a wireless connection. But before networking, I was learning about computer hardware, on a daily basis. I eventually also started learning about older networks, as well. Now, since older networks weren't wireless, and ran on hardware, I was able to better understand the topology of older networks, because I already had a base knowledge of computer hardware, so it made it easier to see in my head just how these networks could be setup. Networking terms that might've been foreign to me, had I not learned anything computer related previously, instead were well known, and it made learning about computer networks just that much more efficient.

reason number two: i love the whole process of studying.

From sitting down at my computer, and turning it on, to implementing methods of study that I've read about in books, I love all of it. I turn my computer on, let it boot up, and throw on a Lo-Fi mix that puts me in the mood to learn. It's relaxing. With the music going, and my material in front of me I'm ready to tackle anything that's on the agenda, and can easily get in around 2 to 4 hours. Sometimes longer, if caffeine is involved. I usually set a timer to 25 minutes, and another set to 5 minutes (sometimes 10). I work for 25 minutes, and take 5 minute breaks (sometimes 10). This has helped me immensely, by allowing short bursts of study, with just enough break time, so my brain doesn't melt. It adds another level of enjoyment to my study time.

Another factor that I love, about studying, is becoming more and more proficient, in a number of areas. Take, for instance, the timer method I just shared. This method has recently driven me to the point of studying, for around 6 hours. I know some people will read that, and think "ok? I study that long nearly every day", or some people study longer. I know that, but personally that's something I never thought I would do. I didn't start out able to study that long. I started out studying around 2 to 3 hours, and by the end of it I was burnt. But little by little...slowly, but surely...I eventually reached the level I'm at now. Little by little I honed my study methods, and studied a little bit longer week by week, until I got to the point I'm at now. Not only have I slowly reached my current study lengths, but the study methods I implement have made for extremely effective, and efficient studying, so that during every session I'm getting as much out of it, as possible. I'm not studying for hours, only to forget 75% of what I just tried to learn. This is something else that I slowly got better at, as time went on. And I greatly enjoy that. The compound gains we can accrue with a little patience, persistence, and consistency. I don't believe that going all out during every study session is sustainable for very long. Give yourself a break, breathe, and go at a pace that is sustainable. This is easier said than done, I know. I'm not a medical student at Harvard, so I can't even begin to imagine the other types of student work loads that are out there. But I also know that it is possible. People do it all the time, and come out on top. It's about finding the right methods, and sacrificing things to make time.

reason number three: i love utilizing study methods, and watching them work!

This kind of ties in, with the first reason (and a little bit of the second) that explains how I love the process of starting at the bottom, and working towards something. But what I'm referring to here, are the actual tools I use to get there. Ali Abdaal, who I mentioned at the beginning of this post, has a YouTube video on how he studies for his exams. He's a medical student at Cambridge (or was, I'm not sure if he still is). This video opened my eyes to more methods of information retention than the usual approach, of just taking notes, or rereading something dozens of times. His video then lead me to a book called Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, and this is when my studying reached new heights. This expanded my knowledge even further, and I began to implement these methods into my own study sessions. Low and behold they worked far better than I ever anticipated. My study sessions became longer, and less stressful. The anxiety I once had with exams had all but vanished, and of course, I was retaining more information than I ever had before. And I love that. I love learning more and more methods of study, implementing them, and watching them take my academic career to new heights. I love honing each of these skills, and getting them down to a science, which just allows me to utilize them even further. I've become quite adept in a couple of them, and it's helped me tremendously over the last 8 months, or so. Specifically making quizzes for myself, something called active recall, and a method known as "interleaving". The joy of reading about these methods, using them, and honing them is, again, rivaled by few other things.

There are definitely more reasons I can list, but it's 4pm, I have more things to do today, and my daughter needs to start her homeschooling. So I'll finish it here. Thank you for reading this, if you have, because you certainly do not have to. Leave a comment on what you love about learning, if you like. I'd love to read them. Goodbye.

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