“Studying” is a thoroughly abused word. I mean just look at the word, it combines study and dying into one. No wonder it scares people away.
When the word studying pops up, the picture of a student slaving away tirelessly at the last moment to pass his exams is what evolves up into our mind. We’ve also been in that situation, so its not foreign to us, especially the feelings of dread and panic that accompanies it.
Which is why we hate it. No one tortures themselves for hours on end, unless they’re masochists which the vast majority of us aren’t. We do it anyway because if we don’t, its the end of the road for any of us who wants a job. A really scary sequence of scenarios plays its course when we decide to go against the crowd, which our parents are unfortunately apart of.
Sure, our parents love us which is why they and send us to
concentration camps school and eventually gas chambers collage, but where does the road lead to? Does it intersect at a crossroad which diverges into a wide array of possibilities or a dead end? The answer to that can only be found by riding down a lane of your choice.
But for you to take on that journey, you have to make friends with that dreaded word we mentioned earlier. Studying, believe it or not, is an art. I can hear you scowl and chanting death threats to me, but hang on for a little longer.
Say you love playing soccer. Did you fall in love with it by sitting in a classroom and learning to spell S-O-C-C-E-R, or did you go out into the field and try your luck at mastering the game? Did you become a hardcore fan of Lionel Messi by writing assignments about him, or did you become one by watching how he effortlessly glided across the playing field, tackling and dribbling past opponents until he reached the goalpost?
Every time he performed one of his signature moves, you paid attention.
Every time he dribbled past an opponent, you paid attention.
Every time he made his way into the goalpost, you paid attention.
You wanted to move like he did, Dribble like he did, and glide across the field like he did.
You watched his every move, with complete attention and fell in love with the sport.
And that sums it up. Studying is an investment of attention. You can only invest in something you are deeply passionate about. You don’t see it as an investment, rather you see it as an opportunity to express your joy. An artist doesn’t realize how the time he invested in a project went by. He counts his joys, not his seconds. He will dance, paint, sing, write from dawn to dusk and resent every moment sleep robs him off. People like that have a beautiful magnetism that draws us towards them. They emanate a vibe completely different from the rest of us, and you know, just by watching them that they’re of a different breed.
When we force ourselves to invest into something that holds no place in our hearts, it feels like we’re getting robbed of our vitality. And thats exactly whats happening, we are being robbed of an incredibly precious resource called time. And what do we get in return? A certificate to show others how we obediently went with it.
But you just can’t get yourself to like the subjects being taught at school no matter how much you try. Theres a reason for that. You didn’t pay attention.
“Escus meh? Didn’t you just tell me that in order to pay attention the subject has to interest me first? What have you been smoking?”
A little bit of meth- I mean, Ahem, I never stated it was a perquisite. There’s not a single person alive or dead who fell in love with a subject without first learning how to decipher them. You hate what you hate because you don’t understand it.
I cited soccer as an example earlier, to present you with the psychology behind studying, because it is clearly visible. Sports are a physical activity and anyone can easily get into it, although making your way up can be quite the surmountable task. The subjects you deal with at school are mostly of an intellectual nature. They require a heavy investment in its initial stages to make sense of the nuts and bolts that bring it together, but once you make it past the initial barrier, its smooth sailing from then on.
Take mathematics as an example. What is it? A study of numbers? A study of equations and formulas? An efficient tool used to torture students into near oblivion? Kinda, but no.
Its a study of patterns and how they relate to one another. Numbers just happen to be the most useful abstract tool to convey those messages. Equations and formulas are shortcuts used to encapsulate ideas. Instead of writing the entire thing down, you can describe how an entire system works in just a few lines. Thats the beauty of mathematics, how it reduces incredibly complex systems into easily recognizable patterns.
Sure, you’ve spend years studying mathematics and you still hate it, but the reason for that is you’ve never actually paid any attention to it. The disgust that bubbles up to the surface has nothing do with the subject, but instead with the fact that you don’t understand any of it.
You didn’t take the time to sharpen the tools used to decipher the subjects language, which is why you struggle so much. A weak foundation will never possess the strength required to support a skyscraper. You can’t stack anything of value onto it and expect it to hold up, and even if you do it will result in a lot of strain from your side.
You end up investing not only your time, but also a sizable portion of your sanity to make sense of it. Imagine using nothing but blunt tools to sculpt a wooden face. Think of the kind of difficulties you’d face, the time you’d waste and the result you’d produce. Thats what you’re doing right now, and thats why you hate it.
But I have good news for you. You can make peace with the subjects you’ve been at war with for so long. I know I did, and it will be frustrating. You’ve spent a sizable portion of your life hating them, so undoing the behavior will take a while, but its entirely possible. Hip hip hooray for neuroplasticity.
Spend 10 minutes daily watching videos from Youtube (I prefer khanacademy) and you will notice a renewed interest in mathematics. No, its not the teacher, nor is it the subject that bores you. You didn’t pay attention in the first place. The teacher’s job is to present his students with material for the exams. He will only show you one side of the subject because most aren’t interested. Its your job to find the other remaining sides, and believe me when I say this, it is deeply gratifying when you finally discover them because thats when you have the full picture, and actually relate all those abstract concepts with the real world.
If thats too much for you, then start watching documentaries and make your way into textbooks. Student textbooks only contain the essentials required to pass exams, its only the skeletal structure thats given importance and and even then only a few bones are studied, that too superficially. Not to mention, it can be very abstract and hard to pin down making it a source of frustration.
Documentaries present you with the big picture first, and then proceed to dismantle it piece by piece, showing you how they all fit together. Personally, I enjoy watching Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and have watched most of its episode. I love the way he talks and describes concepts and besides, who doesn’t love Morgan Freeman?
Everything has a solution so strive towards it, instead of against it. The knowledge we’ve taken for granted have taken its founders a lifetime to discover and stepping all over them like mud won’t do it justice. The world functions on those principles and it will only add value to your life by making an effort to internalize them.