For the Love of Learning After College

The evidence arises spontaneously: Like this past weekend, when I arrived at the public library minutes before it opened on a Saturday morning. I lingered outside with the doors with a small crowd of retirees. Or a few weeks ago at the grocery store, when I compulsively reached toward the community college course catalogue.

But Pia, you protest, aghast. You’re done! You’re free! Graduating undergrad is your first major possibility for radical self-determination – why do you do this to yourself?!

Wow, emphatic question! But the more I’ve been distanced from institutions of education, the longer my daily agenda is under my total control, I’ve had to admit something I’ve known but probably never articulated: that I unabashedly, incorrigibly love learning. And that I will seek it when a million other things compete for my time. And that learning new things genuinely fills all the pockets of my life with joy.

The biggest learning project has been navigating Silicon Valley, which is a world unto itself. I’ve been maintaining my French. I take dance classes, write fiction, practice photography. In preparation for my company’s upcoming Hackathon, I’ve been cramming in web development tutorials so that I can rise victorious over my competitors have fun and enjoy the journey. (Okay, so I’m not totally in it for the inherent love of learning.)

Brushing up on resources from my awesome programmer friends – because despite finding intrinsic joy in learning, I play to win. *cracks knuckles over keyboard*

And then there’s this blog, where I write to deepen my understanding of my experiences, with the added benefit of sharing them with you!

Everyone has their own vehicle of discovering the universe. Someone told me that senior year of high school, and I’ll never forget it. If I had to pick, my vehicles are art and language. But no matter the avenue, the prospect of discovery energizes me more than I could have realized in undergrad.

I’m drawn to people with the same zest. My best friends are even more insatiable than I am. Every day, they explore the universe by way of literature, physics, computer science, visual arts – not because anyone’s making them do it, but because it gives them occasion to continually encounter beauty. And the next day, they wake up with still more questions.

I’m grateful for a lot of things I’ve been imparted with, but curiosity is foremost among them. I know it came from my mom, who is literally a genius. Throughout my life, my curiosity was nurtured by teachers – I am lucky to have had amazing teachers.

Mark Twain once famously drew the distinction between one’s education and one’s schooling. The best part of having left formal schooling and beginning this confusing, indulgent time of my life is that it’s given me a new lease on determining education on my own terms. And at 21, I have zero answers (is it possible to have, like, a negative number of answers? Because that’s me). But isn’t it exciting, knowing that in all my life, I’ll never run out of questions?

…in other words, it’s been a super busy week because of this Hackathon 😉 What are your thoughts on the education/schooling distinction? What’s your vehicle for discovery? Share with me and let’s geek out together!

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