The Eternal Learner…

For me there is nothing greater than studying. I know that sounds clichéd, and like one of the sentences I’m spun at University, about becoming more than just a degree, becoming an academic – but its true. I love studying. Ever since a young child I loved school, I loved the idea of learning, of feeling myself getting cleverer, storing information in my memory banks to draw upon, having those light bulb moments when suddenly everything makes a little more sense, you understand everything a little bit more.

Of course when you’re a child that happens almost continually. You are more or less bombarded with a new slice of information, slither of experience or newly figured fact on a minute by minute basis. As we get older, that seems to change. Suddenly we understand the basics, we have the answers to the simple stuff, how to read, write, (in my case, attempt) maths, science… our biology. It’s all there and readily explained. We’ve drawn our conclusions on our basic views, our opinions on the big stuff, religion, family, politics, education… We’re already quite formed.

What do we learn as adults? Relationships. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge we continue to learn there, about ourselves more, with each new experience comes a moment of self-awareness… learning to drive? That always seems an odd one, it’s the first time since a child when we learnt to walk, to ride a bike, to swim, we have to do something that seems completely impossible and illogical to us….

Studying, makes the world, my world, more interesting. The more I learn the more I feel I have to offer, to contribute, the more I understand the smaller things in life, the more opportunities I give myself. I reform opinions, have my ideas challenged and tested, have my intellect stretched, my own foundations undermined, and…. I love that feeling. I love learning something new. Studying English it’s almost something everyday, a new word for my vocabulary, a new concept or idea, historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological details I didn’t know before.

I love reading something I’ve never heard, researching something and discovering a new interest, going into the tiny details… I can feel myself brighten up with each new sentence or concept, my brain buzzing with questions, ideas, contradictions. I lose hours lost int he recesses of my brain processing, ordering, thinking, understanding. I love finding out about everything – anything. What really interests me  is the big picture stuff, culture, society, gender… to civilisations, history, the makings of man.

I study when I shouldn’t be studying, constantly undertaking a new course or programme to keep my mind active. I qualified as a TEFL teacher last summer and this took at Level Four, Educational Psychology, learning about studying – learning why I like studying, we like learning – studying about studying. It couldn’t have been a more perfect course… I’m reading and studying Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, after my degree I begin teacher training, a masters… I’ll never stop wanting to learn – it’s just me.

Everything is a learning experience. Reading, articles, the newspaper, novels, facts, watching programmes on life, on art, on culture, on history… Talking to people. Getting to know them, their story, imparting and sharing knowledge. Life is so rich, so full of amazing things; of knowledge, interesting people, of questions, I just want to enjoy and share it all. We never stop learning, so why don’t we embrace it whole heartedly and aim to learn something new, each and everyday. I certainly do, do you?

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The joys of Mobility.

I’d never really given it a thought, what it means to be mobile, the sense of mobility and its function in our lives. It wasn’t until both my legs were cast and I struggled to move around as normal that it occurred to me. I wasn’t disabled by any means, and I do not think I will ever comprehend how difficult it must be to be impaired in such a way but I was hindered. I was stared at and commented on, I was unable to get about in my usual way, struggled to move in spaces and around town, struggled to move on with my life.

Yes I don’t just mean mobility literally but more in the sense of upward mobility, life’s mobility of continuing on a journey. Since the news of my legs and what not I haven’t been able to, get on with things as I was. University is effectively on hold awaiting test results to decide whether I return or take a year out for recovery, I can’t drive or get to see people with my legs in cast, I am stunted in this place, in this time, in my life as it is at present.

I take it for granted that I can do what I want, that I have the freedom, the means, to further myself and do as I wish. To go to University, to study, to live independently, to plan a career, to make long goals, to develop myself into, well an academic – supposedly.

How many people don’t have that opportunity, the means or the start in life, the physical ability and are therefore hindered in choices, maybe mentally they are held back by experiences or mental health issues, or maybe they aren’t born in the right area, in the right class, the right colour, they don’t fit the demographic that allows us to move on and have chances in life.

Are we all Naive to think that we are all as free as each other, to do as we please, to have the same chances? So yes we all get an education by the state, but anyone who has worked in more than one school, even a classroom can tell you the differences in education received by students not just in the teaching but in the classroom environment and the children’s ability to learn within their group.

Are we to believe we live in a society where racism, gender, sexuality still doesn’t affect those employed, the opportunities we have, that it doesn’t have a bearing on the decisions and the opportunities of others? I am grateful that I have the opportunities I do in life, and am thankful for the start I was given by my parents. I have chosen my career to try to help others, to impart knowledge, to give everyone the same opportunities, but life is unfair, and it hinders some of us.

We are held back by aspects of our lives, we are hindered by our experiences, we are changed by our environment, we are dictated to by the state. The only thing we can hope to do is, try, be happy and  continue to fight. Not literally with violence but to not give up on a dream, on an idea, on a desire, on our ambitions. Its important, its something we can all do, despite whatever may be in our ways, and its the one thing we can all hang on to.

I dropped out of college due to health problems, I passed my GCSE’s with 5 after having not attended school in the last two years, and suddenly the specifications for my board of examinations changed. I had to restart my two-year studies, and be way behind. I found another way, I wanted to do an access course, I was too young, had to pay 6 grands worth of fees, every excuse and measure, and rule book was thrown in my face. So I wrote to the council, I wrote to the education secretary, I got my place on my course and ended up at University just a year later than I should’ve, even more determined to study than I had been before. I didn’t stop there, I went into schools preaching about access courses, the chances they offer, I worked in schools helping as a Volunteer Teaching Assistant, I showed people that you didn’t have to be Einstein to do well, but everyone had a talent.

I’m not perfect, and I am not a saint, please do not think I am trying to preach my own praises, I’m simply saying that, mobility is a something we all take for granted. The right to move, to go where, to do as we please, to have the opportunities we all share, and its something we should always strive for, work for, look for – something we should remember and cherish.

Quiet Time.

“Others inspire us, information feeds us, practise improves us, but we need quiet time to find us, to figure things out, to emerge from new discoveries, to unearth original answers”  – Dr Esther Buchholz

So I’ve been a little quiet of late, well for a week at least. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about blogging, or that I thought that well, I didn’t need to. More, simply put that… I didn’t feel like talking. There are times in your life when tis important to spend time with yourself, not really thinking about anything. Just spending time, sitting, clearing your mind rather than spending too much time contemplating the world.

For me I spend a lot of time in my head. I enjoy working through stuff, contemplating stuff, musing in thought and thinking about every little detail. Not of situations or people, I’m not one for getting paranoid or hung up over the little details, “What did he mean by that” – that sorta thing. More about general big picture stuff, or my own thought processes, my reactions to stuff. I’m a great believer in thought and the power of the mind, in growing as a person, in finding out about yourself, in understanding yourself, in healing yourself…

So i’ll apologise for my absence. But I needed some quiet time and that’s nothing against you it is just I wanted some time out from all of that. The past week has thrown up a lot of things to think about, too many in fact that I simply needed time to recuperate my brain and then spend some time over the next coming week going through stuff, getting my head around this weeks events.

Next time you feel like you need a break, from life, from relationships, from your own mind and its thoughts, then take one. Sit back and clear your head completely. Its easier said than done and I promise you it won’t happen over night but you will finally get to that point that you can sit and just, think of… nothing. Clarity, clear minded clarity.

So I’m back out of quiet time, ready to hopefully share my minds ramblings with you once again. I cant guarantee they’ll be any less jumbled or more coherent, written with more purpose or  intention than usual but they will at least be coming from an un-jumbled uncomplicated place.

We’re all to critical, we’re complex creatures.

We are all culprits of the self-critical. How hard to we push ourselves, work ourselves, how self analytical. As people we are so eager to focus on our own faults, to draw attention to the times we do things wrong, get it wrong, make a bad decision. We obsess about our negative qualities, the place about ourselves we don’t like, the worst parts of us.

None of us are terrible, we aren’t murderers, we haven’t committed any great crime, we haven’t truly hurt someone beyond repair, and yet we act as though we have. We beat ourselves up, riddle ourselves with guilt, of shame over the silliest things.

Sometimes things go wrong. Relationships don’t work, despite how every much work and effort we put in. Sometimes situations don’t go quite right, despite the best of intentions, situations or our comments, our actions are taken the wrong way. We cannot predict how people will take anything we do or say, and yet we take it to heart when someone  doesn’t understand what we meant, what we were trying to do. We don’t take the time to say, we didn’t mean it like that, we explain and yet we still take it personally, as though we really did mean for things to go badly.

How many times do we accept a compliment. This may just be me, but I’m not one for self praise. If someone gives me a compliment, it’s normally followed by a quick thought of, what’s their intention, what do they want, what are they trying to get… How ridiculous a way of thinking. Maybe they just, wanted to make you feel good, maybe they just said it because they were thinking it, with no thought or provocation, just a simple comment. Why don’t we just accept our good qualities, focus on them, say thank you and receive praise gracefully.

Why do we have to be so self-critical. I have made a point of being positive, of accepting that we aren’t going to get on with everyone, not everyone is going to understand our point of view, or even like it. That we can’t change, so believe in your own beliefs, your intention, your heart. Accept yourself for all its qualities good and bad.

I am no perfect individual, I make mistakes. I’m quick to write people off for not being my sort of people, to stop putting effort in when others aren’t putting the same back – that doesn’t make me a bad person, that s just a part of me. I make an effort to be different, to acknowledge this, and to try to change. But I don’t think I’m a bad person for it, I don’t beat myself up, I accept that I have high expectations of friends and that people aren’t perfect, people fall short of them.

I’ve made mistakes. I’m screwed up good relationships, given up, been focused on the negatives, been to slow to forgive. Its human nature, we’re hurt, we’re upset, we can’t see the trees from the wood. But we should. We should take the time to understand ourselves, the way we work, the way we think, why we act certain ways.

We should all strive to be the best person we can, but we shouldn’t be too harsh. We are after all only human, we’re a flawed species to start with. We are overly emotional, or not emotional enough, we’re quick to judge, to pass comment, to jump to conclusions or assumptions. Why not just accept it and try to acknowledge when we’re doing so, but not be hating ourselves because of it.

I welcome my flaws, it makes me human, it makes me a rounded individual. My mistakes have given me lessons, experience, I wouldn’t change anything because of it. I’ve been wrapped up in my own life and own problems when I shouldn’t have been, I’ve been overly harsh when I needn’t have been, but guess what. I’ve learnt. I’ve grown, I’ve become a fuller person because of it so I’m going to suggest…

We give ourselves a break. Love ourselves, take the time to think about ourselves. We’re all good people deep down, trying to muddle through life as we can, find the right path, our way through a world of inconsistency, problems and drama. To be loved and accepted we must love ourselves, our whole selves. Believe in you. Love you.  Strive to be the best you, you can and then… Well regardless of outcome situation, you can never disappoint yourself. Let alone anyone else.

I’m a person and I love myself, in the most non arrogant, not overly confident or self-assured way possible. Lets all do the same.