My only career plan: Building my own learning path
Because of health reasons, I have been battling attention issues since I was 15.
That was pretty troubling for a straight A student who could dive into books for hours without even noticing the noise and the people around her.
I still managed to wing it through high school and enroll in the college English language department I liked with very few disruptions. But I never did graduate.
It isn’t easy to accept when you are no longer fitting in
My student days were not a straight line. Though I enjoyed the classes and was genuinely interested in the work we did, cramming for the exams was a nightmare, which led to me becoming a procrastinator par excellence.
That, of course, didn’t help my scores. But it did make me feel useless, creating a vicious cycle of all-nighters, added stress, and a lot of wasted time.
Looking back from the point I am at today, I realize just how long it took me to admit to myself that I was no longer a good college material.
And it took me even longer to admit that not being a college material is not at all a big deal and that I can make it without it.
At 26, I don’t mind saying I’m a college dropout.
It was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done.
I think that I managed to learn in college just enough to be able to push myself further. I sharpened my 2nd language skills, I met some new people, fell all over again in love with linguistics, and left in time to learn something new and at the rate I wanted.
But back then, I was not that easy breezy about it
See: I was used to being able to nail those things. The only class I ever had issues with was PE, and that’s just because I’m exceptionally clumsy. And now I was facing so many walls I just couldn’t pass.
And believe me: I tried.
I tried planning my milestones in advance.
I tried colour coding.
I covered my walls with notes.
I used Pomodoro.
I tried learning in groups.
I tried studying in a library.
I watched a zillion YouTube videos on productivity.
But all that effort barely managed to provide me with satisfying results.
Out of 30 finals I passed in 5 years of attending college (I attended the junior year twice), I didn’t get a single A.
On the other hand, I was good at something
During my junior year, when I was 21, I started working
As I jumped into freelance writing, my workload tripled.
I had to study for my classes, learn about content writing, and do the actual work.
That, you can imagine, didn’t help my student reputation.
But it did help me realize that my attention challenge didn’t mean the end of the world.
I was a freakin’ good freelancer. For over 2 years, I was even a Top Rated on Upwork.
Being able to learn on my own the things I could easily try in real time worked for me.
But then, I hit my first self-learning plateau when I was 23. Then a second time when I was 24. Then a third when I was 25.
The problem: Too much content, not enough structure.
And with the attention deficit and a schedule that was tooo flexible, I desperately needed structure.
You know all those “common freelancing issues”, stereotypes and memes about working from home?
I love my “work from home” co-workers. // Hannah Hillam for BuzzFeed ComicsPosted by BuzzFeed Animals on Tuesday, 17 January 2017
I went through ALL of those phases.
From heavy isolation to sleeping during the day and working at night, I had it all.
Then came the period where I had 0 projects that meant something to me. They were not challenging, they were no longer interesting, and oftentimes, they weren’t well paid either.
Which is when I realized I need to seriously upskill in order to break through that wall and actually feel like something was moving.
But upskilling wasn’t that easy. As I said, I lacked structure.
By some luck, I stumbled upon Zest in one of the marketing groups on Facebook.
I installed it, and I fell in love with it.
That was it!
Those were the people that knew what they were doing. They were sharing good reading material. They were constantly in my browser.
I had it all: The structure, the content, the people.
And the tone of voice? It felt like joining the family. Who knew that’s what they would become. 🙂
So after a couple of weeks I made a bold move: I suggested an article I wrote on Zest.
The jitters were there, but I didn’t have my hopes up.
My goal was to get constructive feedback on my writing, not to get published.
But guess what? I got published!
Which just drew me forward to suggesting and reading more, to making bolder moves, to discovering the sunrising side of myself, and to drastically changing the course of my career by eventually joining the Zesteam.
And has brought me to this point today, where I can actively participate in the revolution all the self-learners are leading.
We are Enlightening together
The last three weeks have been truly humbling. Reading all the stories published as a part of #MyOnlyCareerPlan helped me remember how it felt to be stuck, but also how good it felt to push through, and it made me even more determined to keep conquering my walls, one wall at a time.
I know now that my walls will be there as long as I keep learning, but that doesn’t make me want to learn less.
Because there will always be walls, we just have to build our own ways of conquering them. And now we get to do it together.
So pop over here and make sure that we do.