This is a guest contribution from Ashley Urke.
Back when I was in college, I loved to learn but hated the work. Meeting requirements of reading, writing papers, and giving presentations set me on a road to dreading school. As I am quite a few years out of that beautiful day of graduating, I often still struggle with the idea of learning. It brings back too many bad memories of late nights and falling asleep in class.
As I get older and learning is no longer based on a certain standard or scheduled out to me in a syllabus, I have found that how much I learn is based upon how much time I am willing to take to do it. To really better myself and be open to learning new things and different ways of thinking, I have to make the effort myself.
So as I consciously make a choice to continue learning throughout life, I am finding ways to learn that feel less like school so that I can enjoy and accept the process. Learning does not have to be a rigid process but instead can be a natural addition to my everyday life.
I watch my 2.5-year-old nephew a few times a week, and I am constantly amazed at how much he takes in. Whether it is baking cookies, going on a bike ride, or walking around at the mall, he is fascinated with the world and how everything works. I like to think that I take on learning a bit like an almost 3 year old.
To keep myself always learning, I try to find natural ways of learning that fit into my everyday life. I check out books from the library that seem interesting and meet with women who are a little older and wiser. I look for opportunities to give and serve others as seeing them fill up with joy sheds some light onto their life circumstances. I take time to get outside for a hike or bike ride so that I do not lose touch with the beauty that surrounds me. I Google any and everything so that I too can be a little more of an expert on how a peach tree thrives or how to make my own laundry detergent.
Learning for me is not so much about making a grade or being smart anymore. Learning is about becoming a better person and better understanding and sympathizing with the world around me. I find that it is the people who are just a little different from me that I enjoy spending time with because we each offer something else to the table. It is the new recipe or yoga move that encourages me and stretches me in skills I already attain but did not realize I could take a step further.
By always learning, I am always changing. By always changing, I am looking at life more like a 2.5-year-old. There is a lot to take in during this short lifetime and I do not want to miss out on the amazement that life brings before me.