THE ART OF LEARNING A NEW SKILL - AND STICKING WITH IT
Fun fact about me: I have about 40,000 different interests. An impossible list of skills I want to learn about and be good at. Over the years I’ve curated a multitude of magazines, podcasts, and books about playing guitar, fashion, blogging, veganism, film photography, illustration.. the list grows and grows. But there’s always this underlying feeling: that no matter how much I read and learn about things, and even begin to practice them, I still feel like an imposter, that I’ll never really be doing it right or be as good at it as someone else.
It’s a frustrating cycle of “I’m gonna learn this” - “I feel like I’m not doing this right” - “I’m not good enough, I’ll learn something else”. This cycle is a side-effect of the huge lie I continue to buy into that I’m too far behind to get good at something, and is one of the biggest detriments to my growth as an artist and a person.
I know I’m not alone in this battle, and through years of being inside this cycle, I’ve figured out some ways to break out of it. It’s not always easy, and it takes a lot of self-reassurance and persistence, but it’s worth it.
Here’s a few ways you can pick up a new interest or skill, and stick to it:
Find people who inspire you, and read about their beginnings.
Whether you’re trying to learn how to produce your own music, work a film camera, or build your own website, it’s always important to have influences that you can look up to. Read about how people that inspire you got to where they are. How they started, how many times they failed and tried again, tricks and tips they’ve learned along the way. It’s incredibly reassuring and motivating to know that even the masters started from a place of knowing nothing. It’s also a good way to learn more about what you’re interested in! A win-win.
Get experience doing what you’re interested in.
This is the scariest for me, but it’s the most important. Get an internship! Shadow someone. Find accountability in learning from others and getting advice directly from the source. If you want to get really good at yoga - be consistent in practicing yoga in a class setting, with others. If you want to get good at playing an instrument, take lessons, and find other people to play with! If you want to do stand up comedy, try really performing in front of people. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will learn if you actually love or hate what you’ve been learning about, you'll get a feel for what it’s really like to do that thing, and you’ll have that experience under your belt to help get you even further.
Don’t quit if you can’t bar chords, accidentally ate dairy, or get drained from trying to learn French. Give yourself grace, and don’t burden yourself! It’s OK to take breaks from learning. It makes us human. Watch a few episodes of Broad City or go out with some friends. Practice is the only thing that’s going to help you get better, but it’s crucial to find a healthy balance. When it gets frustrating, when you feel like you hate what you’re doing, remind yourself of why you’re learning it in the first place, help yourself out and find ways to spark your passion again. Another thing that will help is giving yourself short term end goals. These will help you look forward to something and feel rewarded.
Hold yourself accountable.
Find a few friends and tell them what you’re doing, and how they can help encourage you. Knowing other people care will help you stick to your guns. On top of that, show yourself some love! Remind yourself: knowing nothing is the best gateway to knowing more; questions and confusion are the propellors that will move you forward; what you’re doing WILL be worth it.
As someone who is really new to and trying to be really good at audio engineering - I understand how terrifying picking up a daunting new skill can be. It takes time. It's not easy. You'll have moments where you feel like you know nothing, but you'll also have moments where you feel like the smartest girl in the world. I don't feel qualified to be giving advice, because I'm just beginning too, but half the fun of this journey is that we're in it together, girls! Do the thing. Learn the skill. Broaden your horizon and don't ever limit yourself. YOU have the opportunity to be great at whatever you set your mind to. You’ll be surprised at what you are capable of!