I’ve been sitting on this blog post for over a week (ok, two weeks) just going back and forth whether to post it or not. I want my writing to inspire and leave some contemplation; I’m not sure if this post achieves it but I know it’s been highly requested.
This is a topic that has come up a lot in my Instagram DMs. I often post little snippets from my day and I’ll often get the ‘how do you do it?’ comment. The truth is, it’s not something that I’ve mastered overnight, it’s taken years of juggling multiple projects at the same time and training my body to keep going even when it’s tired. This can prove to be unhealthy and detrimental to my mental health, but my determination always takes the reigns and I let it. In saying that, I can (healthily) take on a fair amount that has allowed me to progress into so many different areas in my life.
I recently shared my good grades from my last semester on Instagram and I felt it was time to share ‘the tea’ on how I balance everything. To be clear, I have always studied and worked fulltime with the exception of my one year of Law (LLB) in which I had three part-time jobs during full-time studies. My entire undergraduate degree was done whilst working full time and so has my postgraduate studies.
Why am I studying at 31?
Why the hell not? I’ve got so many things I want to achieve and they need to be done through studies. A lot of studying, in fact. My brain still feels fresh and excited for knowledge so I want to feed it whilst I have the capacity for it.
Why Being a Life-Long Learner helps
I’ve got this ridiculous thirst for knowledge; I want to know everything about anything and it gets on people’s nerves. I can’t simply watch a movie; I keep pausing it to fact check and lookup terms I don’t understand. A couple of nights ago I watched ‘Into The Wild’ for the first time and within 24 hours I’d watched several documentaries, read numerous articles by experts, and could regurgitate the entire story with key details memorized. This is just one example and I wouldn’t even call it a ‘flex’ or ‘boast’ because it can get exhausting at times. People can’t really relate to you much cause they simply don’t care enough about every single thing they come across on the daily but I do. I really do. The reason I’m going into detail on this point is that this thirst for knowledge and the rate I absorb new information helps me to study at the age of thirty-one. I am constantly studying the strangest things because it interests me to the point of obsession.
Why Exercising Helps
I started exercising regularly at the age of six. This is outside the playground aspect and more to do with actual training. I showed promise in the swimming pool so I went to swimming practice five times a week and made the provincial team at the age of seven or eight. More practice. My training schedule only grew more demanding as I got older and at one stage (I will never forget) I was clocking nearly twenty hours of training per week at the age of fourteen. Again, not a flex, I had ligament reconstructive surgery at fifteen, broke out in stress shingles at twelve because of upcoming trials, took my body out of service for three months because of full-blown fatigue, and finished my sporting career with both ankles and knees strapped on the daily. I don’t train twenty hours a week but I cannot take exercise out of my life entirely because I wouldn’t function. Hitting the gym five times a week and a few yoga sessions in between pales in comparison to what my body was once used to. As you can imagine, without exercise my mind doesn’t find the peace and quiet it needs to study. Even after a full day of work.
Why Working Full-time Helps
I’m an adult and I’ve been earning money for almost seventeen years; it would put me through a lot mentally if I didn’t have a professional career. It may seem that working all day would put you out of the study mindset but it’s almost like I have different parts of my brain that need exercising. One part needs to absorb knowledge through theory and the other part needs to grow through practical experience. When I exercise one without the other I feel unbalanced and frustrated. I’ve also always worked in the industry that I am studying which may seem odd but it’s helped me grasp the industry faster because what I learn in theory I immediately apply in practice. It cements it in my brain because I see it being used versus sitting in lectures for years before putting what you’re learning into practice. I’ve always known I couldn’t be just a student or just an employee; I would need to do things simultaneously.
Why Being Creative Helps
You’ve heard the theory of having two sides of your brain? Well, can you imagine exercising one arm and not the other? This is my oversimplified idea of why I need to exercise my creative side as well as my… boring side. You could argue that there is an element of creativity in essay writing and such, but it doesn’t quench as a sketchpad can. It breaks up the monotony of studying for me but keeps my brain active. When I’m drawing, my mind is relaxed but not dormant; I experience different thinking patterns and focus on the strangest of topics during my artistic sessions. It’s like flexing different muscles to make sure all muscles work together in harmony. If you have dominant muscle groups, your lazier areas will suffer and cause discomfort. I feel discomfort if my creative muscles aren’t exercised.
Where does my motivation come from?
The thing is, I believe we are capable of a lot. Humans can be ignorant and lazy but we’re not stupid. Some believe being an average version of themselves is enough and strive for very little. That is perfectly OK but I cannot relate in the slightest. This could be from my history as an athlete or the sheer thirst for expanding my brain as much as possible – I’m not sure as I can only speculate. I’ve also always felt like I don’t know enough and undersell my intelligence. I spend my life listening to well-educated masters in various fields and that inspires me beyond measure. I’ve been patronized by both men and women for most of my life and that’s created this Imposter Syndrome type mindset that feels the need to take my knowledge further in order to simply qualify. This is no longer the case and I’ve learned this said more about them than me, but the idea that learning more brings job confidence has stuck.
I’ve also been very honest with myself and where my priorities lie. There is no time-wasting in the life of Lamb. I don’t want to hang out with people I don’t want to hang out with and I won’t spend years in a career I no longer have a love for. When things get boring and tedious I know it’s time to expand or branch out. This strong sense of self gives me the confidence to pursue what I want to do without too much doubt settling in. In short, I make sure I like what I do. When I like what I do I feel motivated. My motivation is predominantly intrinsically driven in that I make it for myself; I don’t wait for people to applaud my efforts as I do that myself.
I hope you have taken something from this post! I’ve tried to be as honest as possible, as always.