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Interest-Led Learning

In today’s internet age, we can learn whatever we want. Whatever information you want is at your fingertips. How much information you want to learn all depends on you. There’s no one stopping you from learning anything. It’s all up to you. 

During the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I started this blog. I’m not a writer, and prior, I had no experience with blogging. The last time that I built a webpage was over 15 years ago. I decided this is something that I wanted to do, and six weeks later, I launched my blog. 

Yes, 6 weeks. That’s all the time it took me to learn a new skill. I’m not at all the best at it, but I know the basics. When it’s estimated that WordPress makes up to 35% of websites, learning how to build a website on this platform undoubtedly helps foster a needed skill.  

How did I go from not knowing anything about WordPress to launching a blog in six weeks? It’s simple. I was interested in it; therefore, I was willing to learn at an accelerated rate. 

When you are interested in something, things just start opening up, and you get an enjoyment about learning about it. You spend your time researching and consuming content. It does not become a chore. In learning to build this blog, I spent my weekends researching and tinkering with designs. 

Looking back on my teenage years, by the time I was 16 years old, I was a full-fledged auto mechanic. My father was an auto mechanic by trade. Growing up, he had a side gig of fixing cars out of our back yard. If there was a car there, after school and weekends, you bet I was there. This was NOT a choice. As I got older, and towards the end of high school, he wanted me to become a mechanic, but I was not interested. 

When things are forced upon us, we tend to rebel. I never became a rebellious teenager, but I did try to sign up for many after school activities to avoid coming home early and fixing cars every day after school. 

By the time I graduated high school, I had become very adept at fixing cars. We did everything outside of the electronics. Full engine and transmission reconstructions were a routine. Yet, that was not my passion. It’s no surprise that I did not choose it as a career path. 

In high school, I became interested in electronics, specifically building and fixing computers. This is very similar to fixing cars, except I was not outside in the heat, and this is something that I wanted to do. I spent a lot of time reading books and tinkering with old computers. I eventually built my first computer and thought I would be working as a computer engineer. During my undergrad, I realized that I did not like computer programming, so I switched to electrical engineering. 

A passion in high school led me to becoming an electrical engineer. I’m thankful that my father did not interfere and “force” me to become an auto mechanic. Although when looking to switch my major, I did think of mechanical engineering because of my experiences growing up. 

During undergrad, I helped my friends with minor stuff on their cars like oil changes and brake repairs, and I’m thankful that I’m very comfortable looking under the hood of a car. Although with today’s modern cars and all the electronics, it’s more similar to looking at a circuit board.

As a parent, I realize that I can’t force things onto my kids. Right now, my son is 3 years old and  is into cars. He will play with those things all day, which he does, and he sleeps with them. He could one day want to be an auto mechanic. Who am I to tell him no and push him towards engineering or medicine?

My daughter is 6 years old, and she has different interests. We are trying to see what she likes. She has tried gymnastics, swimming, and now keyboard/piano lessons. She seems to enjoy those activities. With her keyboard, there are days she does not want to practice, so my wife does not force her, and there are days she goes and plays by herself. We are trying to foster her interest naturally, introducing her to many activities and seeing what she does and does not like. 

I’m learning it’s important not to force your interest onto your kids. As a kid, I was interested in space and thought about becoming an aerospace engineer. I thought about becoming a marine biologist after visiting Seaworld. I don’t recall my parents telling me no. I remember all the Zoo books that we bought from yard sales and those I checked out of the library. At those ages, I think it’s important to let kids be kids and let their imagination run wild, and help support them as much as possible.

Some of you reading this did not have the option or do not have the opportunity and are working, or pursuing a career, degree/major because of someone else’s wishes. In the end, what you are doing now in this stage of life for an income should not define who you are. If you have a passion for something else, there’s always time to nurture it, build it as a hobby, side gig, or full-fledged career change.

In tying this to financial independence, once your finances are secure, and you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, this gives you the freedom to pursue anything you want. That is the power of financial independence. It’s not about just saving for retirement. It’s about saving for what you want to do. Securing that bag just gives you options.  

Keep your passion alive, and hopefully, one day, you can rekindle that inner passion and do what you want to do instead of what someone wants you to do. 

Become the person that can learn anything. Don’t be rigid.  The world we live in changes rapidly, and we must adapt. 

I genuinely believe that I’m the type of person that can learn anything. I started fixing cars in the yard with my father, and along the journey, picked up many skill sets. I’m not sure where this life will take me. I’m enjoying medicine right now, but I’m not defined by medicine. After medicine, maybe I will start taking those cooking classes I’ve always wanted and, in the process, become the next master chef. 

Believe in yourself and never stop learning.