My Journey Of Self-Driven Learning

I was a hamster running on the wheel. Fueled with curiosity, I was focused on learning everything I could about computers, ranging from digital art to software development to hardware to even the basics of artificial intelligence, but my path was in circles, and my goals were clouded by confusion of what exactly I wanted to do with my life and where I saw myself down the road. I had always been passionate, but I didn’t really know why.

The initiation to my journey of self-driven learning was the rejection of membership for my school’s computer club in grade 6, on the basis that I couldn’t use the Final Cut video editing software. It was a setback, as I had always considered myself to be adept in computers. That feeling of not being “good enough” was enough to transform my curiosity about the computer, into a desire to become better and learn about different professional applications. I started using online resources like YouTube to learn about video editing, then digital art, then vfx, and finally started moving towards programming, and as I learned, the motivation matured from the need to excel, to actual love for the computer, and I knew I wanted to learn anything and everything I could about it and how it works. Seeing my drive, my father bought me a MacBook Pro, which was more than what we could afford, because I was struggling to learn and I needed a computer powerful enough to keep up with my pace of learning.

I have always felt that I am gifted. I found opportunities, support, and help when I have needed them the most, be it from my family or my teachers. I have had the idea, that this fortune of mine is for a reason, and I have some purpose in life which I must fulfill to actually prove my worth for these gifts. I work hard, because I need to justify the investment that my parents are making in me. But though I was running hard and fast, I actually had no direction, for I learned just because of curiosity and did not actually apply my knowledge to attain any definite goal. Entering online competitive coding competitions made me realize the theoretical nature of my knowledge for I lacked the experience in applying it.

A hamster on the wheel is running yes, but he is not actually moving forward. This was my situation till grade 9. I had knowledge of various subfields of computer science and development, but had not actually attained mastery in any one, I wasn’t the best anything. A definite goal is a must. I was aimless even though I was in love with computers, and was learning something new every day. This realization hit me, that being passionate doesn’t really mean that one is driven. He may be working hard, but till the goal is not as clear as still water, he will not succeed.

This period of introspection, led to significant changes in my thought process. I started understanding the “why” behind my hard work and motivations. I started developing projects using the knowledge I had attained, implementing ideas which had always seemed to have potential for me, potential to be the next big thing. I understood that I learned best when I actually applied the knowledge. I made multiple mobile apps, contributed to open source software, freelanced online, taught and worked with juniors on various small projects. This exposure to the real world, helped me uncover what I actually wanted to do in life and where I wanted to see myself down the line.

Learning has been my love, and knowledge is my craving. I want to be a teacher, for then I will be able to continue with my love of academia, work with bright minds, and actually get to inspire and continue to be inspired. This definite goal makes me less of an hamster, and keeps me from running in circles of confusion. My emotion for my work, which transforms it into passion, and a better understanding of my true goals, which direct this passion, are what me struggle to innovate and move forward.

11 February 2020
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