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Daily musings: On learning and our insane capabilities

Having started a few new jobs recently, I've been feeling the effects of being a little fish in a big pond. That is to say I've been more than a little overwhelmed at having to get to know new people, get to know new systems and absorb more information than my not-so-sponge-like brain can hold. There have been several leakages (including my eyes leaking from the emotional despair I feel over the prospect of multi-tasking. I'm an uncomplicated woman who likes to keep things as uncomplicated as possible!!) This all sounds a bit dramatic but it's true that learning new things can make anyone feel uneasy and apprehensive. After all, there are many layers to learning something new - not just the actual learning itself, but all the other...I guess baggage (for lack of a better word) that weighs us down and threatens to make the process harder than it already is. The shame of getting things wrong, the weight of responsibility, the frustration at ourselves which stems from wondering why on earth we're finding something that should be so easy so very difficult... The list goes on. I happened to be relaying all of these thoughts to my Dad the other day and he spun my emotional angst on its head and came back with more than enough reasons for me to feel proud of what I'm doing and who I am as a person. He gave me a very simple scenario to help me understand just how much our brains cope with in day-to-day life. Just imagine the process of travelling from one destination to another. Waking up for work in the morning, rushing to get ready (which involves time management and flexibility), walking to your nearest station and then boarding a train. There are so many things your body subconsciously deals with and it's truly fascinating. Making quick decisions about whether or not to board a carriage. Maneuvering your way through limbs, finding a suitable space to stand on the carriage. Subtly shifting your bodyweight so as not to fall spectacularly on other passengers, shuffling around so that people have space to get by, so that you have space to rest your aching arm on something (although a lot of the time this isn't always possible.) Whilst doing all of this you might be listening to music or reading a book, eating or drinking, thinking about the day ahead or what you should get your niece for her birthday or whether you have enough change in your purse to buy chewing gum or the pros and cons of a no-deal Brexit. All this happens before you have even started your working day, in which you spend hours homing your craft and making things happen out of thin air - it doesn't matter whether you're a CEO or on minimum wage. You're offering something which you have learnt to do and positive things are happening because of it. I guess what I'm really trying to say in this post is that we do a lot of thinking but maybe we don't think enough about the fact that our bodies are truly spectacular and we are capable of a heck of a lot. The things that we take for granted such as movement and speech and being able to form ideas and opinions are just some examples of how complex human beings are. This has become particularly apparent to me since working with kids. Kids are going through it all - they're changing mentally and physically, and this all happens at lightning speed. The fact that it happens so quickly makes it so much more palpable. I'm sure you've all heard the idea that kids are like sponges and it's better to learn things while you're young as you absorb information so much more readily - this is definitely the truth, but I wonder if it's because kids are like blank canvases and for them everything is new. Once you get to 20, 30, 40 you've discovered and experienced a lot more and perhaps it's more difficult for your brain to process things that overlap with one another (can you tell I have done no scientific research whatsoever?!) Whether or not this is true, as adults we have different, complex abilities that children do not possess, and it's truly remarkable. When you're ill you realise how much your body is fighting to keep you alive and you also realise how much work goes on behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis - when you're healthy you don't really take into consideration the effort your body is putting in to keep you that way. You can improve your health, you can make your body stronger, you can challenge it, put it to the test...which is also true of your mind. It needs to be stimulated. So I don't think we need to be quite so hard on ourselves. One of the traits I most deplore in myself is constantly feeling like I'm not good enough / beating myself up about stuff / being a perfectionist, and I know this needs to stop because in reality I have many things to offer. I am not a robot, the final result of many prototypes, carefully crafted to be able to perform a task whenever and wherever. Being human gives us multiple abilities but we have another side to us which is the fuzzy, sentimental, emotional side (I'm sure there are many scientific words that refer to our emotional capabilities, aha.) These two sides are inextricably linked, in my opinion. I don't know, maybe some people would prefer to work as a robot does, without tiring, being constantly upgraded. But that's just not what we are. There is definitely a view present in societies all over the world that sees growth as one of the most important if not the most important values. Betting ourselves is what we should strive for, says this view. And there's nothing at all wrong with wanting to learn and expand our knowledge and do things to become more open-minded and improve in a certain field, but I think if we concentrate on that too hard then it may ultimately, ironically, be our downfall. To learn is to understand and maybe we need to understand that to keep learning isn't to suddenly become a different person, one who never looks back, but it's a journey on which we are taking things from the past to use in our present and to prepare ourselves for the future. ***

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