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You Either Choose to Learn or You Don’t

What will it be?

“man wearing headphones while sitting on chair in front of MacBook” by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

That’s right. You choose!

Here’s a little story for ya!

Back in college, I taught myself everything. Sitting in class listening to professors reading off of PowerPoint slides isn’t really my idea of time well spent. Sometimes I had professors who didn’t care whether or not my physical body was in class. They were cool and were aware of their own shortcomings.

Unfortunately for me, cool professors were rare.

Most of them incorporated attendance into their grading system which is why I found myself solving electronics homework during differential equation, and vice versa.

Point is, classes were useless for me. All I needed to know was which chapters to study and then I’d spend hours and days and weeks teaching myself.

And I get the feeling that I wasn’t the only one who did that. After all, no matter however you look at it, monotonous lectures never helped anyone learn.

The above anecdote is to make a point that I’m used to researching and learning what I need to know.

The outcome of all these years of self-taught education is simple: I don’t trust anyone to teach me anything.

I’m a real piece of work, I know.

What’s comforting to know is that pieces of work similar to myself aren’t all that rare.

And that’s why, I figured I’d share this epiphany I’d had not long ago. Perhaps it will help the self-sufficient, miserable nerds of the world.

This is how it all started.

I decided to start writing because I’ve always fantasized about being a writer — someone who can spin words like the Kafkas and the Dostoyevskys and the Nabokovs of the world.

But getting there at my age starting from zero is a ton of work, and I already have work that I love, so, I figured I’d start out as a blogger.

Soon, the materialistic world of blogging got a hold of me, and I started to dream about making big money in my sleep. That’s right, the so-called dream of passive income. Before you know it, I was knee deep… no, scratch that, I was waist deep, or maybe I had drowned already, who knows.

I was reading about blogging and making money blogging and about passive income streams whenever I could. Whatever free material I could get my hands on, I had my hands on.

Soon enough, I had my blog up and running.

And then, finally, I decided to make a solid investment in a fairly well-known blogging course.

But here’s the thing. I had read so much already that as soon as I started reading the course material, I knew it had been a complete waste of money.

I already knew everything, and the course wasn’t offering me anything new that I hadn’t already read somewhere else.

But since I made some investment already, I figured I’d keep at it. But even after I’d gone through more than half of the modules, I didn’t feel like I had learned a thing.


A complete waste of money and worse, time.

This happened a few more times. I kept investing because I kept hoping that things would be different. Someone somewhere would have made something that I didn’t know already — taught myself already by reading all the free gems out there scattered all over the internet.


Still, I decided to give one more course about passive income a go. It was an online course on affiliate marketing through blogging. As usual, as soon as I started reading through the first module, I felt it.

There goes another two hundred…

Since this was to be my last mistake (as far as online courses go at least), I decided to keep reading. In fact, I had an amazing idea! I figured I’d go through the entire course and then blog about how these online courses taught by anyone and everyone are nothing but useless junk, meant to lure innocent bystanders into shelling out hard earned, and not always in abundance, money.

And then something happened.

Around module 4 (the entire course was six modules), I pulled out my notebook. I was so into it, I didn’t even realize what I had just done. I pulled out my notebook and a pen, and jotted down “Affiliate Marketing: To do’s” at the top of a new page.

And then I proceeded to write down one tip after another.

Were they all new things I didn’t know about already?

Nope. Not really.

There were a couple that I hadn’t known before.

There were a few I knew but I also didn’t… you know… those things that you don’t consciously think about but when you hear from someone else (or read in this case), you think, “oh! I knew that!”.

Yeah, there were plenty of those.

And you know what? I think that $197 I spent on this course was completely worth it.

A year ago, I stumbled upon Marie Forleo. I downloaded all the free videos I could find on her site. Not that I was learning anything new (hah!), but I liked her energy, so I kept listening.

At one point she had said something profound, and I’m paraphrasing,

Don’t say, “oh, but I already knew all of this”, instead, say, “what else can I learn from this?”

You see, Marie had it right. It’s all about attitude. Chances are, no matter what you know, or however much you think you know, there’s always something new to be discovered. After all, each human being is unique in their own right, with their unique set of experiences. So of course, the things they teach from their own unique angle is always different. All one really needs to do is change their perspective to spot the unique bits.

So, the whole point of this article is to remind you to keep an open mind. Don’t do what I was doing; I was being a narcissistic prick all those times I was going, “uhh, what a waste, I knew all of these already”, but instead, focus on the author/course creator’s unique stance that fundamentally differs from yours, by default.

Trust me, you’ll definitely end up learning something new.

That is not to say that there aren’t a bunch of useless, overpriced online courses out there created by those who have neither qualification nor adequate experience to speak of. But that’s on you to do your due diligence and research before you invest.

However, if you invest in the right courses/people to teach you, chances are, you’ll get your money’s worth, given you allow yourself to learn, and not give in to your own useless ego.

Thinking back on my college days now, true, monologues read off of PowerPoint slides are not fun, especially when they’re about designing microelectronic circuits or sampling a voice signal, however, I distinctly remember referring to the same PowerPoint slides when I was teaching myself the same material at home.

My professors didn’t spoon-feed me the information I needed to know. However, they did give me the tools I needed to teach myself.

These online courses aren’t all that different. The pearls of knowledge are scattered throughout the material. But, you have to sit down and pick them up, and sometimes you may even have to dig them up.

But they’re there, but you have to be willing to see.