As an adult, do you still make time for learning? All of us have to learn to some degree or another, but do you actively seek out the pursuit of knowledge or the acquisition of a new skill?
I posted the following question yesterday on Quora and on several social media sites: “Why do you think adults give up on learning to play an instrument?”
The answers were more varied than I expected. I was ready for the basic answers like “not enough time,” but the results were more honest in their assessment of the underlying reasons.
Loss of Learning
Check out this answer from Nathan Walby on Quora:
Most adults struggle with the loss of learning new things, and will try repeatedly to ‘reignite’ these feelings- often by purchasing an instrument or taking lessons.
He had a lot more to say about the subject, but that one sentence really struck me. Adults struggle with the loss of learning. We have a yearning to return to our days of wonder, when we were just discovering music or art or the rest of the world for the very first time.
Walby’s main answer was that we basically get out of the habit of learning, and that disconnect makes it much more difficult for us to discipline ourselves enough to see it through.
Impatience and Fear
Or, how about this answer from Erin Kurup on Google +:
I want results faster than I can make them happen in the time I have. Maybe also a fear of being totally new at something again.
Two emotions are fused together here to form a major obstacle: impatience and fear. I know that when I begin to feel that I really can’t get something – perhaps no matter how hard I try – I have the impulse to shut down. I want to get away from whatever it is that is making me feel so uncomfortable and inadequate.
Family / Time Pressures
And though we did discuss time over on Facebook, the answer was deeper than a quick excuse. Sande Barrett Bihlmaier had this to say…
In my case, it was because I was too busy raising my kids and taking care of my family. I would still love to learn to play the piano.
Walby also mentioned that people have an easier time of learning once the kids have left the home, referring to his mother taking up painting lessons.
How Do We Overcome?
Is that it, then? Are we supposed to give up on learning new skills once we reach a certain age? If we have kids, do we have to wait until they’ve gone before we can try something new?
This article is just a quick glance at the challenges we have before us. I didn’t get the opportunity to explore the struggles of each person’s efforts to learn a new instrument. And I certainly don’t want to minimize other people’s experiences by saying these problems aren’t tough to overcome. Just man up and get over it, right?
These topics speak to deep emotions: the fear of being exposed, the fear of feeling trapped, the frustration of thwarted expectations, and the nostalgia for the safety of days gone by.
I do believe these struggles can be overcome. It’s not easy. In fact, the more support that we can give each other along the way, the better off we all are. Each of us has to make the choice to learn. Each of us has to choose to persevere day in and day out.
I wanted to talk more in depth about each of these issues without feeling the need to rush through each problem, so we’re going to break them down over the next couple of weeks. We’ll talk about our underlying needs, and we’ll talk about ways we can overcome.
Until next week, what other factors hold us back from learning new artistic skills?