I’ve been lackadaisically studying for my upcoming Jeopardy auditions over the past few weeks. During this time, I’ve noticed several things about myself that I have found disturbing, to say the least.
When I was little, I used to devour books. It didn’t matter what the books were about, I read them all: animal books, history books, science books, mythology books, classics (I admit, they were the Great Illustrated Classics. But I was a kid, give me a break!), nature books, geography books, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. (I also loved oldie musicals, can you tell?). I knew about everything and everyone from Hatshepsut to the Velociraptor to Oliver Twist to Persephone and Hades.
Going to IB helped keep that flame alive, against all odds. I think this was because I forced to know a lot about a lot of subjects, so my mental faculties were working at full speed for a solid four years. I could describe mitosis to you with one breath and in the next explain how Isabel Allende’s use of magical realism in The House of the Spirits was important to the larger historical context of the novel. Needless to say, I felt very smart.
That all ended with college. Suddenly, I was only taking courses in the things that I was passionately interested in, with a few “necessaries” thrown in to keep things torturous. My mind stayed open, and I kept learning, but this time my knowledge was laser-focused onto subjects that don’t get a lot of traction outside of academia. Because, let’s be honest, when is the last time you discussed Durkheim’s theory of social facts outside of a Sociological Theory class?
Studying for Jeopardy has shown me how much I’ve forgotten that I used to take for granted. I’m not the well-rounded person I used to be, and that concerns me. I’ve also realized how little I’ve learned in the past four years that hasn’t been taught to me in the classroom. I’ve forgotten the joy of picking up a book in the library, or turning on the Discovery Channel, and soaking up information.
In my defense, when you spend most of your time reading Sociology textbooks for class or working on Political Science publications, picking up a biology textbook isn’t the ideal way to spend your free time. But I have just gotten lazy, especially with the advent of the internet (here’s looking at you, Facebook), and I haven’t been diligent about keeping my mind sharp. Why do brain puzzles when you can mindlessly flip through friends’ photo albums or waste hours on Pinterest?
Thankfully, I have really enjoyed getting back into the swing of teaching myself things, and it’s been easy to pick up a lot of the things I had forgotten. That’s very encouraging, because I want to make it a point to stay as mentally sharp as I can, and to be a well-rounded person, even if it is just intellectually. (I’m working on being well-rounded in general, but hey, one step at a time!)
I write this because maybe there are things in your life that you’ve set aside for some reason, and have never been able to pick back up? If so, I want to encourage you to try and find time in your life for it, if you want to. It might seem like a daunting thing, since time and neglect have a way of making tasks seem much larger and more challenging than they really are. But it is so rewarding to revisit things that you’ve put aside, especially if you put those things aside because you doubt your own ability to handle them.
It took the hope of winning thousands of dollars on a game show to get my momentum going- maybe this post is the push you need?