How to Start to Learn

How do you go about starting something you have no idea how to do?

I suppose the first question we should address is whether you know what it is you want to do. Aaaand you do!? Great, let’s just neatly sidestep that existential pit and keep moving along.

So you’re going to try and do it? Awesome.

It’s like this: You’re looking out a window, the sky is stormy and the branches are swaying madly in the tempest. But you must go outside to continue. You see the end goal, but the first step towards it appears to be 8,000 feet straight down into a dark chasm.

Alright, enough melodrama. Starting is hard because starting means humility. The ego does not like to cooperate with humility. Humility precedes learning. And learning is what you have to do to start. Learning is one of the closest relatives to the meaning of life. You do not know everything. Sorry to burst that bubble. I need this reminder daily, maybe hourly.

Starting, and I mean the very first step, means overcoming internal and external pressures to begin learning.

Maybe you’re not ready to learn on your own, maybe you should just take a two-year class and get an accredited certificate and then hopefully, maybe one day, someone will tell you you’re good enough to do what you already wanted to do.


Though if you’re first instinct is to run to an authority who will pat you on the head, tell you you’re good enough, slap you with a piece of paper and send you on your way, then this post may not be for you.

To those concerned, no, I am not condemning the entire current academic behemoth structure.

I am pointing out that if you are the type of person who needs external validation to succeed, success will probably elude you.

Instead, I like to look at learning as deeply personal and selfish.

This definition of learning, whose origin I’m embarrassed to say I have forgotten, is one of the best things written in words.

“Learning is the process of doing what you don’t know how to do, while you still don’t know how to do it.”

That sentence is one of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever read. Read it again. Mmm, great stuff. Seriously, I don’t feel like writing anymore after that quote. It’s so succinct and intuitively true.

Ok. Just a few more sentences.

We all know the truth of learning. It’s hard, embarrassing, and humbling.

And that’s the only honest place to start from.

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