Studying at school and studying by yourself are like the yin and yang of education (terrible cliché, I know). The government takes you to school, and makes you learn a bunch of things, mostly related to subjects that are of no interest to you. But this raises a huge problem. Many of us didn’t like studying in school, especially in junior high school, and that impression about education has developed into a mess of negative emotions that flare up whenever we face the need to learn something new.
Your boss might tell you to get an additional certificate, and for this, you need to invest your free time in studying the materials for the exam. Or you might be thinking about going to college because it will bring you more job opportunities, but a bachelor’s degree is quite difficult to earn without studying. When we are forced to study, it naturally makes us resent studying.
Have you ever felt resentment when you were playing a roleplaying game on the Xbox, and you were enthusiastically looking for guides that tell you how to get the Chrysamere sword with enchanted powers? Or did it ever bother you that you had to read up on Paris Hilton or Wentworth Miller because you wanted to know more about them? These are both examples of the kind of voluntary studying that you would do on your own initiative. No one is forcing you to do it; you do it because it provides value to you.
The truth is that there really isn’t any difference in studying the lives of celebrities or studying Spanish philology. In one case, we’re learning why Paris Hilton decided to dabble in music; and in the other, we’re looking at why the Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands is sometimes closer to the Spanish used in distant Latin America than it is to the Spanish spoken in mainland Spain—which, in comparison, is just 600 miles off the Spanish coast. The questions follow the same, simple pattern, but only the subjects are different. Neither subject is intrinsically any better than the other. The one who decides its value is the person learning it.
It’s evident that people’s views on studying changes according to the context. For most people it’s easier and more fulfilling to read about holiday destinations than it is to study math. But once you get rid of the pre-conditioned beliefs and impressions about a school subject like math, learning can become equally or even more fulfilling than the “easy subjects”.
It’s ultimately the topic that matters at first. You need to be okay with it to willingly start learning. But even if you hate math, I strongly believe that you can transform the hate into attraction by approaching the subject with the right mindset. It’s enlightening when you finally understand that studying isn’t that bad after all—in fact, it’s pretty cool.