Self-Teach Yourself Anything!
Until I was 26 and finally went to college, almost everything I could do beyond the extreme basics had been self-taught.
As a self-willed teenager, I quit high school. I didn’t really mind working as a waitress, but I knew that was temporary. So I taught myself to type. At the point when I grew really proficient I learned that I was earning more in tips than just “typist” jobs paid. But I knew how to type, which has served me well over the years.
Of course I married young and had three children. In those days, there were no day care centers, and private sitters for three preschool children would have cost as much as I made. So I became a stay-at-home Mom. I rapidly learned to cook nutritious meals on a very strict budget. What’s wild is that some of the meat-stretching and other economical meals I fixed then are still family favorites that the kids, and even the grandkids, beg for when they come home.
Three preschool-age children also grow extremely fast. Even the two girls were only 16 months apart and often needed the same size. So I taught myself to sew. I began with my mother’s old treadle sewing machine because I didn’t want to spend money on a machine if I was too stupid to get the hang of sewing (my mother hated to sew so her forecasts were not good).
I think that old machine only lasted through one very basic dress for each of the girls and a very simple shirt for my son, but I not only knew that I could sew, I also knew I liked doing it. I bought a basic, but new sewing machine. Which made my learning process considerably easier. I tore out a whaling lot of seams in the early days, but my stubborn-factor kicked in, and I kept trying. I eventually became good enough to tailor myself some suits, do costumes and fancy holiday gear for the kids and just generally sew anything we wanted or needed other than shoes.
During those same stay-at-home years I also taught myself to write and sell my work. No big bucks during the early days, but I did manage to buy some of those shoes.
I also self-studied and passed the GED. Then, at 26, with my youngest child in kindergarten for a half day, I entered college. I paid for every class I took with money I earned writing.
Somewhere along the line I also taught myself to knit. I’m sure there have been other things, and while I’ve utilized formal education as an adult, I’m old enough now not to want to take tests, so I am teaching myself more about archaeology, religion, and preventive medicine. And, even if I’ve worked as a staff writer and have earned a decent income freelancing, I am still “learning” to write. Education, after all, is a never-ending process.
The secret of successful self-teaching? It’s simple in concept, but not always as easy to achieve. I failed in teaching myself to crochet. I can achieve good meals, even some fancy ones, but I am no gourmet cook. I never managed to put together a quilt. Truth is, I just didn’t care quite enough to refuse to give up.
You must want the skill to the point of being obstinate. If you want something enough to keep ripping out those sewing stitches, keep typing about that little brown fox and doing seemingly pointless finger exercises and if you care enough about what you write to rewrite and mail out again and again…the skill will come. Any skill. Pick your own and care enough to achieve it.