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Day 30-31: Why did I fundamentally change the way I learn?

These days I have been thinking about my education and about how much my learning and life improved after I made this fundamental change. Back in January, while I was at Vanderbilt, I realized that the "elite" education I am getting brings me zero value👌. The computer science and math courses I was taking were there simply to fulfill my major. I realized that I am not actually learning but I am in a rat race of getting grades and passing classes and just moving on with the crowd of other multiple cs majors. Do not get me wrong. There are careers and types of people who thrive in academic environments. There are cs majors who are amazing programmers. However, the moment I realized I am not that person and that I have been learning at a university simply because this is the traditional societal norm for a place to learn at 20, I decided to change.

Why was it necessary?

  • I fitted myself into a major that vaguely reflected my multiple educational interests.

  • Taking classes for fun of learning is seen as a luxury you can afford only if you are "on track" for your major/s.

  • Whenever I changed a course in my learning, I had to switch majors ( I had been biology, film, communication, cs)

  • Whenever I wanted to learn something new, I had to look towards a certain 5 months commitment.

  • I did not find classes to learn the things I want to learn. (branding, marketing, human psychology design)

  • I had to carve out time for learning I enjoyed. (like waking up at 5 am to do the fun reading)

  • I was stressed all the fucking time because I had some assignments hang on my neck.

  • None of the instructors were in a life or earning position that I wanted.

So after 1.5 years of trying to understand what is wrong with me, I finally had the confidence to realize that it is the system that is not designed for me. Classes are approximations for an average student to get an average amount of knowledge towards a sphere of knowledge that is averaged into a certain class and given a name, a level, entry requirements, and a major. Sometimes it happens to work out. I did not want to be learning that way. There is no major to lead me to where I want to be. My friend Betty (shoutout to Betty's birthday yesterday🎉) gave me a really good example of this once. She was interested in Russian literature and wanted to read The Idiot. So she decided to take a class on it. The moment she was in the class she started losing interest because "its a class". Now, of course, there are ways to work with that. The point still stands: academic environments with its regulations and grades often damage the learning curiosity and drive. So I acted radically and dropped one class and withdrew from the other and minimized work for the other three to "just pass" mode. All of this gave me time and space to get back to self-education. In self-education you have the freedom to decide what to learn, when to learn, what exactly to learn, and in which amount. You are your own student, teacher, planner, and master. Previously, I had experience from 9 years of self-education throughout my local Uzbek school where I realized the same thing: "Shit, if I don't learn myself, I will not learn anything valuable. I will be just like everyone else. " So instead of looking to a major or a class I can take to learn about a topic, I started finding the right resources to teach me what I need in the most effective way. Learning became extremely enjoyable and also way more responsible. I felt like I am finally learning. I felt present in my own life and not just breezing through these extremely valuable and fleeting years. When I need to learn about marketing, I find a course from a person who raised a multimillion-dollar business instead of doing homework in a class taught by an ancient professor. I gave myself the freedom to critically evaluate and then choose the best way and source for learning things. On top of the enjoyment of self-education, the responsibility aspect is very important. I fully mentally departed the idea of even one of the best universities is going to educate me. This means it is all in my hands and all on me. If I do not develop my education, I am screwed. If I do not have the motivation or discipline, I am screwed again because there are no emails coming to remind me of homework and tests. I absolutely love this part. It might look hard right now but the extreme benefits of it are that you get lifelong skills of self-learning. Everyone will be out of college and other institutions are some point. If you do not know how to self-educate yourself, you will continue to look towards a "class or a major" to do that instead of directly going to the best source. My teachers are the people in the position that I want to be in. They are teaching me things they actually did in real life and did not just write about in a research paper. I am fully in charge of where my education goes. I decide on my commitments and there is nothing being imposed upon me. This is the way to learn and to live for me. To be waking up early because I actually want to learn that exciting new thing. The moment I evaluate something that needs to be learned, I don't have to wait for a semester and be on the waitlist and then go through a bunch of icebreakers. I immediately go and start learning. A concept that especially helped me in this process is coming up tomorrow. What I've described here will sound amazing to some people but it is actually mentally hard to depart traditional structures because of their strong grip on our worldviews and opinions. If you think about it, in the eyes of most people, friends, and family, I am Mariyam with a horrible GPA, with no major really and wow no internship or research this summer. The concept helps me stay centered in opinions and values that are important for me and not be thrown off by the societal ones.

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