When I finished undergrad, the term life-long learner was the buzz word of the day. I swear I incorporated it into every paper I wrote my senior year. It's a great term, but I can't say I really used it with much conviction back then.
I want to be a lifelong learner, I want my children to be lifelong learners and I want life to be shared with others that are passionate about the lifelong pursuit of learning. Along the way, I've realized it's not nearly as simple as it sounds.
I'm working through the process of learning as an adult. Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. It's deeply personal.
Sometimes being challenged with new ideas is like breathing a big sigh of relief. It's almost as if the thought was there all along but you just couldn't grasp it yet. It meets you where you're at and moves you along. Other times it's scary. Not in a frightening way, but in a oh-crap-now-I-have-respond-to-this-but-I'm-not-sure-if-I-have-what-it-takes kind of way. Ok, so maybe that is downright frightening.
2. It's communal.
If there's one thing I've learned this year in an online Master's program, it's that learning is meant to be done with others. Online education doesn't allow for busy people to gain access to education, it makes for isolated learning that should be communal. It's meant to be worked through with a community of people so you can hash it out together. There have been so many times when I wish I could just sit with others in the same boat. I just needed an ounce of solidarity. Honestly, it's been one of the loneliest years of my life. Not only because of the time that it takes away from the people that are right in front of me but because of the mental exhaustion it's caused from trying to work through ideas alone. I didn't expect that. Solidarity gives the motivation to push through. Isolation convinces you that pushing through doesn't matter. This is something I've had to battle a lot lately.
3. It's meant to be shared.
I'm not sure how to word this one because it's similar to communal but not quite. I think it's a combination of my first two points. I wish there was a word to describe what I'm thinking but I've got nothing. There's probably some sweet Japanese word that says it perfectly. No matter. When you're seeing the world with new eyes, you want everyone you love to put on the same glasses so they can see what you see. You want them to understand it because in understanding it they can understand you. But sometimes they don't. It can feel like you're gifting a part of yourself to them but they won't take it. It's painful but in a way that's hard to identify. It leads to walls if ignored.
4. It makes you gain weight.
Or maybe that's just me. Seriously, not sure I would have signed up for this if I knew about the extra 10 pounds I'd be packing. Who am I kidding? Almost 15. But it's true. Not only do I not have the time to work out like I used to, but the bigger problem is that I get the nervous munchies when I'm trying to work through stuff all by my lonesome. And yes, I realize what a loser this makes me sound like. So be it. The stress of 15 extra pounds on this girl is not pretty in many ways. Hate it. I think it would be helpful to find a better balance of working out my mind and body.