I’ve often wondered how I came to learn much of what I know. More specifically, I’m intrigued by the processes I use to learn, rather than where I’ve learned it all – as the sources didn’t teach me how to seek knowledge, but instead just gave me the knowledge.
A standard practice of my learning is my utilization of a large variety of resources. It’s fascinating how many people I can talk to that will never interact with each other, and thus I can safely approach without fear of overlap, but still receive a wide variety of thoughts and experiences outside my own. My long-standing tendency to befriend people older than myself helps a lot with this, too.
Some of these are friends, whom aid by walking ahead of me (as the majority of my friends have been older than me, since the beginning) and allowing me to watch as they make lots of stupid mistakes. A few are mentors – not necessarily teachers, but the handful of guys I looked up to and seek out for advice and clarification. The last group would be my ‘audience’. The audience consists of all the people that get to experience the end product, and then supply feedback on where I am. These would be family, friends, acquaintances (peers and co-workers), and superiors (elders, teachers, bosses).
My process of learning begins before there’s even a real problem to address. At the earliest hint or inkling of any new issue, I inflate whatever I experience to what feels reasonable to me, in order to justify a measurable reaction. Reasonable is traditionally defined by how I see those I respect handle similar conflict within their lives – but as time marches on, I move closer to perceptual independence. I know that realistically, my situation is often a far cry from what most people are truly experiencing, thus when I set out to learn more about what a whole situation is about and how to deal with it, I preface everything with the knowledge that I’m young and inexperienced. The boons from this are twofold: my chosen teachers are more inclined to share what they have to know due to this candid confidence in them, and they’re also less likely to alter their translation in an attempt to appear more or less than what they truly are. If they know they’re not being judged for their views, but instead being relied on, they’re infinitely more willing to offer honest advice without consideration for bias. I can then make use of the availability of multiple extreme viewpoints, and taking them all into consideration, find the happy median, a balanced portion of everything I’ve heard.
Take a case example: for much of my early pubescence, I was entirely convinced of my need for some kind of romantic relationship. Some of the motivation for this could be cited towards bizarre parental relations (or lack thereof) in early youth, but looking back, it seems to me that I was attempting to tackle a problem that many men don’t ever figure out how to address, even into their last years. Spawned out of the rather irrational fear that I may have to deal with it for the rest of my life, I felt rushed to exterminate a weakness that I saw plaguing men greater than myself.
This is the formula I concocted, as best I can tell.
Step one: Encounter a new feeling that, ultimately, is insignificant. Examine it and compare it with what I know I could and should be feeling, were I in enhanced circumstances.
Two: Consider existing evidence on the matter and start watching others live out the situations I’m imagining myself in. It’s like living vicariously, but just taking notes on how other people are stupid and where I can afford to make mistakes. Once I’ve collected some concept of what’s normal and healthy, I start making more active efforts at addressing my self-made problem.
Three: Start discussing. Highly depending on the nature and sensitivity of the situation, but in general, I’ll find five different people I can trust to provide varied opinions on how reasonable my feelings are (remember that I’ve exaggerated everything in my head – what comes out to other people will sound significantly more realistic and reasonable than what I’m truly experiencing). A rough number, but I’ll keep talking until I feel satiated in the amount of information I’ve collected and the perspectives I’ve both assumed and received on the situation. I’ll process the information over (most typically) a week.
Four: Settle on one person to bring all my findings to that I haven’t talked to yet and present my situation and conclusions, but offered in the same manner as with my other friends – a dire need for advice, regardless of what I’ve learned thus far.
Five: Adjust, adapt, and record. I’ve successfully learned how to solve a problem that I haven’t experienced. By amplifying all my feelings in the situation and imagining myself in more epic circumstances than exist in reality, I push my perspective to a place that it won’t otherwise go.
People do a lot of things that they never realize.
I think too much.