Alright friends, I have a question. Let me preface it with the fact that I did a little analyzing of the random compilations of reflections that I have been calling a blog. So I realized you may not see the full connection between why I have titled it what it is, as “Lauren Learns Life” especially when I have been at times trying to give advice or make judgments in these. I wholeheartedly believe that I have SO much to learn. I repeat – SO Much. If you know me and you’re thinking… “ya okay, she always thinks she’s right.” You aren’t wrong, but insight and reflection are my best friends and I do know that I have a lot of room to grow and learn, especially recently. This past week I attended an Insitute (Constructing Modern Knowledge) that reminded me of this fact, tenfold, but it also filled me with such excitement and motivation to move forward. With that being said, when was the last time you started learning something from scratch, from the beginning, from the very first teeny piece of knowledge you’d ever been exposed to on a topic, skill, or project? Were you excited, discouraged, invigorated?
I only ask, because this week I entered what I would actually like to call an “experience,” nervous, insecure, and in all honesty, feeling like a novice. My new career requires I be an expert on managing technology in “regular” ed classrooms, but this conference was filled with very non-regular technologically advanced individuals. On top of that, more than half of those in attendance currently live abroad, work at international schools, and I’m pretty sure, spend their spare time curing diseases, or potentially even inventing them. I’m only sort of kidding about the last part. Regardless of my digression, I had the initial instinct to withdraw to my hotel room when allowed, and not invest much at risk of looking stupid or silly or yes – inferior. That is until I met the right humans and found a project I felt spent in and began the very long and slow process of learning something brand new to me.
It was then, and quite suddenly that a feeling vaguely familiar but distant crept up on my soul. Currently when I learn it’s usually “more” about something. I learn new techniques to cook my favorite foods. I learn new authors that I enjoy reading or new stores that provide my favorite clothes or home decor. I learn of new coffee shops or ways to operate my devices. I learn new routes to the places I typically venture to. I learn things about raising a dog or buying a home or life insurance. These “learning experiences” are often in addition to or brought on by a job, life skill, or requirement of society. Yes, I used the big “S” word. But post-rambling, I ask again when was the last time you learned something for learning’s sake or because you wanted to? When was the last time you felt like a child learning to ride a bike, to grow a garden, or play scrabble? When was the last time you were so amazed by the way something works or exists you were caught energetic, giggling, and bouncing through the process on your own time?
Friends, I urge you to find something that does this. I may have only learned how to power LED lights with copper conductive paint and tape, and the basics of computer-coding to power children’s robots, but it was fun and whimsical, and magical. I know I’m the one learning here, as I pointed out at the beginning but the highest order of learning is teaching, so let me try to impart a teeny-tiny-little piece of advice. We are all way too caught up in repeating, remembering, regurgitating life and what it is “supposed” to be- when we should be trying, testing, and taking chances at new things to experience it all. Have you wanted to take a painting class but feared the painting of the dog would look more like a horse or a sausage with legs? Me too. Maybe you’ve wanted to take a taekwondo class, become a beer connoisseur, or compost at home but time and work and life have gotten in the way. Well, friend, life is actually a lot more about those experiences than it is those repetitions. Go do it. Now. And don’t make excuses.
Not only did I leave that institute excited to move on in my computer skills, exhausted from laughing, and moved by other humans, but I left wanting so much more than just an idea for work. I was surrounded by people with different learning experiences than me, and with more “culture” than me, but friends, I didn’t feel inferior. I feel motivated. So I made myself some promises to follow upon exit. And hopefully to keep this feeling going. Are you ready?
- I will travel more. Alone, with friends, with my mom, with my boyfriend. I don’t care. I need to experience the things my peers at this place discussed with glow in their eyes, and I need to fill my soul with the excitement of a child, instead of the stress of an adult who has a Monday, a Bank Account, and Bills to worry about. I will travel more, and I will make this happen, now.
- I will never forget the feeling of wonder. I can imagine the first time I took a creative writing class. The depths I felt I could discover of word choice, placement, and sound felt endless. I dove in like a scuba-diver to the Titanic, in search of excitement and treasures. I will seek out that wonder, even when it requires admitting my inexperience or lack of knowledge, and I will embrace it like a child.
- I will stop repeating and start reinventing and iterating myself. I promise to never stop learning new things, not just more of the same old things, or new ways to do what I’ve always done. Reinvention is key to existence and meaning. It is never too late to change a course of direction or a goal.
Now to clear this up well and wrap it up good, I am not a new person, and I am not going to sell my house and leave my dog and set off on a backpacking trip for the next five years (if that’s your plan, no judgment here). My soul is made of roots that are deeply embedded in the place I was born, where some others are made of wind or wheels. I find comfort in familiar faces and places and long for a legacy. But friends, I will practice growth from the roots up until I have wholly bloomed and grown. I am learning, always, and if you follow along, I promise I’ll share what I can.