Learning in the Digital Age: An Odyssey

You Live. You Learn. If you’re someone who grew up listening to Alanis Morrissette, you could easily recognize that the title in itself is from one of her songs in the album Jagged Little Pill. It was a success. But I’m not here to talk about that.

I grew up in a small town in a province where there are three major educational institutions, one of which had my father working as a full time instructor. Up until his retirement, he was a teacher, a coach, a mentor and a musician. All of which, I think subconsciously placed pressure to me. He stayed in his job for more than 35 years developing minds, nurturing them like his own child.

I’ve seen him teach in one of his classes, I happen to sit in as a seven-year old who just crosses the street to meet him and my mom for lunch break.  I practically grew up in that school and I saw how it has evolved over the years.  That institution has always been a second home to me, the library where I would pour my remaining minutes from lunch break to sniff books. The librarian would give me an odd look however knowing I am my father’s daughter she would dismiss the possible notion that I am a little bit disturbing at such a young age.

I wasn’t particularly an astounding success, academically speaking I had struggles from elementary and secondary (high school) years. Math has become the bane of my existence. Physical Education! Oh please, I just died having to do all those running, panting half-way into exhaustion. I did not have exemplary awards when I graduated in high school aside from the generic Loyalty Award and Service award I got from surviving  school for 10 yrs and being part of a school band. I was pretty-much an average student, I wasn’t overly popular nor was I delinquent enough to raise the Nun’s eyebrows. I say I was good enough.  I’ve always love learning. I loved school and the environment that it has given me.

College came and I failed to pass the quota-course  I picked. My entrance test courses did not make the cut. Initially, I was devastated. Like for the whole afternoon, after I have received the bad news I cried my eyes out. But that didn’t stop me, entirely. College is a different ballgame. I opted for my 2nd choice. I took up psychology in the hopes that I could take a pre-med track after.

I was a semester behind, because I had to stop since my mom had a stroke prior to the first semester. That has halted me, given another test that I need to pass. I have to juggle both my studies and fulfilling my duties in the family.

My outlook was just to keep on going, I took summer classes because knowing that I am lagging, I need to recover. My extra-curricular activities was second to none. I probably just joined two major organizations. The priority was academics. Fortunately, with much determination and perseverance, I passed my subjects with flying colors. I earned full scholarships for almost  3 years that I was in College. I was part of the President’s List. That in itself is an achievement, a feather in my cap. I wanted to make my parents proud at the very least. I wasn’t exceptional but I was determined to make it on my own knowing that determination alone could push you forward.

Self-propelled, I graduated with honors with the support of my family and friends along the way. God being the driving force behind that success. I could not believe it for myself. I was able to graduate within 3 and a half yrs in college. The next chapter was much-more exciting and scary. After college, posed an important existential question involving PURPOSE.  The med track was plausible however, my mom had another attack and knowing that we have no longer enough funds to support that dream. I opted to start working, corporate.

I was seeking for PASSION but at the same time, I wanted to earn a living supporting my own as well as my family. Being an only child, I have to beat the odds of not being dependent for too long. I needed to be practical and have sacrificed a plausible career as a doctor.

Corporate World, hello! It didn’t take long before I find myself working from operations. I started out as a customer service representative. Being involved in a very mundane and routine-based work drove me to shift to Human Resources which was part of my contingency plan. I wanted to try HR. See what’s in Industrial relations. In college, it’s the least favorite subject that I had. But you got to try it for yourself. You have to move outside your comfort zone, as they say.

And so I tried it. High expectations have a price. I expected that I would always maintain that attitude towards work, that I would always persevere whatever it gives me. Unexpectedly and due to some circumstances, I will no longer elaborate, I was reminded of my existential crisis after I graduated — PASSION, PURPOSE. That’s something I needed to revisit. Am I fulfilling this? Am I doing this because I just need to? Where is the passion to learn, to strive and persevere regardless of difficult and challenging circumstances that would arise. How about resiliency?

I started questioning myself, for somebody to pull all their heart into what they are doing, it means a lot to see that there is something wrong at this point.  A career shouldn’t just be a means to an end but a calling. I soon realized. Learning should be continuous and the environment is also a large part to be taken into consideration. Thriving in different work environments too, challenges you and tests your character. There’s a plethora of factors to be taken in account. But let’s focus on the passion for learning and adaptation.

And for me that is important, I’ve always wanted to live up to those ideals. That’s what keeps me grounded. The notion of losing passion is probably one of the hardest things, you have to face in your lifetime. Passion is about life. Passion is what keeps you going. If you love what you’re doing it should take you to greater heights. It can create opportunities that could change your life forever.

People finding it early on with their lives are considered to be very lucky. Cultivating it like planting a seed and eventually growing it and yielding its fruits is a lot of hard work. Working hard in the digital age isn’t just about pouring hours at work all day, every day. It is now about designing your work that would also suit your lifestyle without losing it’s common purpose — to give back to the world.  Finding the right balance between life and work along with passion is something every Millenial is trying to grasp and control.

Are we equipped enough? Are our outlook positive enough to shift our paradigm in terms of work? Are we champions of change? Those questions always bring us back to our natural instinct to thrive and survive and passion and determination are its main components.

With technological advancements, we are propelled to adapt. The world is changing and changing fast. There is almost no time to stop because we are at the mercy of answering e-mails, documenting our every move, our entire existence in one cyber universe. When can me disconnect? Can we still have decent conversations – a connection outside our smart phones? Are face-to-face interactions still a thing when we bury ourselves with gadgets. It’s daunting and I don’t want to appear as a techno-phobe. I am all for technological advancements because they can make our lives easier.

But isn’t living the easy life almost leading to a path of least resistance. We could not resist change. We should embrace it.  We should embrace it with open arms, don’t we?

Classrooms, the physical structures once housed us and molded our minds are now available in cyberspace at our grasp. We can always go online to learn. The internet is the world’s library. You can now design your own curriculum. Will we be able to still be able to experience a classroom-type interaction in the future?

It’s very interesting, we’re moving into a world where there will be less and less of an actual physical experience. Paperless, automated, self-servicing, digital world. Wouldn’t that make you a bit lonely? The smell of books? Can you still smell that or feel that page when you turn a book? Wouldn’t you be abnormal when you sniff a kindle to ipad?

On the upside, the reality of digitizing is supposed to help our environment save its resources. Top companies are all for creating and customizing needs for clients to meet demands that would tailor-fit their needs. Anything that is cost-efficient with a better trade-off will be provided with the go signal. It sparks innovation! Change does that to us.

And with this in mind, we must not fear being very far away from the idea that learning whether we like it or not is part of life. We live, we learn, we change. And the cycle continues but passion is something we would not live without.

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