By the time I had graduated university, I already had a part-time job which turned full-time after graduating. Ever since graduating university, I haven’t had any kind of formal education. Some people go for their Master’s, other take online university courses and curricula to further their education and develop their CV’s. I had done not a single one of those.
However, my natural curiosity and interests never left me, not for a day. I instinctively dove head first into various fields and domains of knowledge. I explored many fields of psychology, philosophy, history, politics, language, spirituality of various forms, religion, theology, warfare, and many more I don’t remember off the top of my head.
I scoured the Internetz for content, discussions, forums, podcasts, YouTube videos, and whatever I could get my hands on to learn about these things. All the while I’ve read soooooo many books. I tried going to the source material to learn the fundamentals. For history though I never went to source material, always second-hand accounts and books that summarize history.
I’ve read books by Robert Greene, Carl Jung, Jordan Peterson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michael A. Singer, Eckhart Tolle, Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell, and so many more. I’ve learned online about many other historical and philosophical figures throughout the past 2,500 years of history, and a bit before that also on ancient civilizations and theology and spiritual practices of ancient religions.
I’ve gone to plenty of therapy, some coaching, a whooooole looooooot of introspection in the forms of meditation, journaling, diaries, contemplation, inner dialogues with parts of my unconscious mind, and more.
All of this comes together to form a type of personalized education. It’s one step past higher education. All of this is things I exactly need which isn’t offered anywhere. Discussions I’ve had, and keep having, with intelligent, reflective, virtuous, and philosophical people are worth a ton. Books I’ve read by Carl Jung enrich me to this day. Podcasts by Tim Ferriss, Jordan Peterson’s Biblical series, Bringing together knowledge and wisdom from Eastern philosophies and traditions, with Western science and psychology, and Islamic teaching and practices have brought me a unique understanding of the world and of life and my Self, and me, that is worth more than a certified education available to me in universities. I think, at least.
This kind of experience and learning is something I think everyone should get. I never really tried to learn any of these things. It’s just how I spent my time. When I procrastinated from work, or escaped from life, or whatever, I’d watch a lecture on YouTube about Marcus Aurelius. I’d watch SciShow videos on psychology, I’d watch Joe Rogan podcasts on social matters, I’d binge-watch a million HealthyGamerGG videos on YouTube.
This education has been my escape from my feelings and my “life situation” (as Echhart Tolle puts it.)
But I’ve made some deliberate effort and attention to bringing these things together towards my larger wants and aims in life.
All of this taught me about myself. All of this taught me about life and how humans tick. I learned to relate to people. I learned the value of compassion. I learned gratitude for the everything that’s available to me. I learned how to forgive, how to love, how to learn, how to aim in life. I learned the value of reading, and even more so: the value of writing.
I now have the self-confidence to be writing this. I have the wisdom to surrender the future, and know better not to try to secure the future of this blog. I’m writing this now, this is the only thing I can secure for myself. I don’t know if I’ll write tomorrow. I can’t do tomorrow now, I can only do now now.
I learned how our tendency to desire to control things we cannot control is extremely dangerous and can do damage so much more than you think. I learned to start noticing when I do that, and learned the wisdom to decide to not attempt to control, and learned the skills to be capable of doing that sometimes.
I learned the paradoxical power of surrender. You wouldn’t think Gandhi being non-violent would free a subcontinent. How is doing nothing gonna help? It’s strange like that. It is how it is. It is as it is. It is like that.
No one taught me this. I was an extremely caring student all throughout school and university. I tried sooooo hard to be a great exceptional student. And in university, I was. My grades were meh, but I always impressed students and teachers alike. I struggled to perform in exams, so my grades were always a surprise for everyone to see. Oh, how many times have I tutored a classmate, only for them to get better grades than me….
You can imagine how I must’ve felt. The frustration. The confusion. Am I smart? Or am I not? My classmates and the teachers all agree I’m exceptionally smart. I think literally not a single teacher in university thought I wasn’t very smart and didn’t have high hopes for me. Literally.
But my grades always made me feel really bad. Like, “why can’t I get good grades?!” I was so angry. Soooo angry. Extremely confused and frustrated. I remember I once decided to take it as far as it needed to for my Calculus C class, and study more than anyone ever did. I finished almost every single exercise in the giant textbook. I studied extra material so I have a more well-rounded understanding of the science. I scoured YouTube for tutorials, took online education like Khan Academy, everything I could get my hands on in order to fully understand Calculus inside and out.
I ended up having a really deep passion and appreciation for Calculus. It is genuinely beautiful. It is genius, absolutely a testament to the prowess of the human being. A testament to our capability to conquer any obstacle we face. I’m serious. Calculus is really amazing. It’s also extremely fun. I enjoyed every single one of those millions of exercises. I spent soooo many hours studying. I made sure that my understanding was genuine and complete, that I can explain anything to anyone, and solve anything I see.
Of course I didn’t reach perfection haha. But, except for trigonometry (my mortal enemy for all of eternity), I became better at everything than everyone around me. I easily solved things, sometimes all in my mind, without even using pen and paper, literally whole equations and calculations in my mind, and explain it all to those around me in very simple terms. I’d ask very sophisticated questions to teachers. The looks of shock and surprise on their faces were very validating for me to see haha. I felt amazing seeing them be so surprised to get such an intelligent and deep question from a student. Most students just do not care about the science.
In the end though, I didn’t get a very good grade. Actually barely passable. Can you believe it? How do you think that felt? It was very very hurtful.
But from my post-university personalized education, I learned to process some of these emotions, and I learned to forgive the system that hurt me so much. I learned to understand where they come from, what they needed, and to let go of the anger that could really ruin my health if I allow it to.
No formal education would’ve taught me that. They’d laugh in my face if I told them I’m angry about it. They’d judge me and think I’m weak, and judge me for being weak.
It’s funny, all this education, 2 years kindergarten, 12 years school, 6 years university (took my time :D). 20 years in total. All the while no one said a word to me about anger, forgiveness, patience, compassion, kindness. How do you think you learn Calculus? Do you think it takes anything other than patience and kindness towards yourself? It doesn’t. Everything about it is easy, anyone can learn it. The hard part is to be patient with yourself when you struggle and fail. It’s to be kind to yourself when you need more time than you think you should need. It’s to give yourself time to learn the basic things you struggle with. That’s it. Seriously, it’s more emotional than logical. Everyone has the logic. Every single person. If you find a special unicorn who doesn’t understand logic, which everyone does in their own way, you can teach it very easily. But if you don’t know how to play with emotions and not suppress them, then it’ll be impossible to teach logic or anything to anyone.
I learned all about these emotions, the nature of each emotion, their role, their importance, their place, their rights even. Every emotion has the right to be felt by you, not to be suppressed. You don’t have to behave angrily, but you owe it to your anger to feel it and listen to what it wants to tell you. You don’t have to hate anyone, but your hatred deserves to be understood and attended to.
I think this post-university education of mine was the best and most valuable. It gave me the ability to learn calculus, which is more valuable than being taught calculus.