The Learning within the Learning

Image by chenspec from Pixabay

I have recently gone back to study, something which I haven’t done for a number of years. I am undertaking a Design course, a large portion of which is learning Adobe Illustrator. I consider myself computer literate but learning Illustrator has been incredibly challenging. We were warned from the outset that Illustrator would be challenging to learn, akin to learning a new language.

Many hours have passed with me feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and tears were shed when things weren’t working out as they were supposed to.

I came to the realisation that even though I am learning something quite specific, there are other lessons that I am learning also. These are subtle lessons which reveal themselves between the lines, once I step back a bit, start to observe my mind and my reaction to it all. These are the learnings within the learning.

These are some of my revelations during the course of my studies:

We all come into this world knowing absolutely nothing (other than innate wisdom, but that’s another blog!). So everything that I ever see anyone doing has had to be learned by them at some point. If they can do it, so can I. Why not me?

Technology doesn’t always behave as it should. Yes, sometimes it is the operator but sometimes technology just has it’s own agenda. It is what it is. Mercury may be in retrograde which impacts on global communications and technology.

Google, YouTube and the Help function are great friends at times when things aren’t going to plan.

The undo button or CTRL Z is my best friend because it allows me to learn through trial and error.

I may not be able to control technology crashing or not working properly but I can control my mindset and reaction around this.

While the mind is infinite, the brain is not, so it gets tired. If I am struggling to grasp a concept or find myself getting overly frustrated, I walk away, make a cuppa, stretch, go for a walk or sit outside. A good night’s sleep is even better. I am amazed at how such a break can bring on an ‘Aha’ moment of ‘so that’s how it’s done!!’ If all else fails, walk away and allow the brain to recharge.

There is an optimum time for study which will be different for everyone. My optimum time is between breakfast and lunch, which is why I try to schedule the more challenging tasks for this time and somewhat easier tasks for the afternoon.

I avoid spending time in front of the computer after dark because it leaves me wired in such a way that I struggle to get a good night’s sleep.

Sometimes no matter what I try, there is no flow in my work. It’s okay to give myself a day off every now and again, without feeling guilty about it. This too shall pass, and my mojo will return. Life is cyclical.

Sighing and long exhales help to release pent up tension and allow for energy to flow through my body in a healthy way.

Albert Einstein was right when he said that insanity is defined by doing the same thing and expecting different results. If something isn’t working, try a different way. Often slight variations will make all the difference. Is there another tool that I can use to achieve a similar result? Is this absolutely critical to my learning or can I move forward without it?

The concepts that are hardest to learn are often the ones that I will remember forever, for the simple reason that I have put a lot of effort into coming to terms with them.

Sometimes near enough is good enough.

I remember my why. What is the reason behind me wanting to study this?

I make sure that I have a good support network (in my case, my sister who happens to be studying at the same time and an awesome online community of students and alumni). It helps to know that someone understands what I am going through.

Lastly, I remember that I exist as a separate entity from my studies. I am not my studies and I have a life outside of my studies. Creating that mental sense of separation can be quite cathartic.

Despite all, I get an incredible sense of achievement when I find myself whizzing through tasks that I had struggled with previously. Every challenge that I overcome makes me just that little bit surer of myself and builds up my confidence, task by task.

I am living life. I am growing. I am learning.