Big 50 Volume 5: Learning

I had a moment today.  I was pouring over some architectural plans for the new library we are building, trying to get information for one of my vendors, when I realised I was really enjoying reading them.  They’re so full of information, and especially now that I’ve been out to the site and got the building in my head spatially, I can really visualise what things are going to look like when they are completed.

If you had told me two years ago that I would not only be able to read architectural plans, but also would enjoy doing so, I probably would have laughed you out of the room.

In fact, I know one of my previous bosses was always frustrated that I wouldn’t try to learn new things, I was always totally sure I would fail.  He would try and try and try to get me to take on new projects and I would fight change like a lioness, because I was terrified that I’d screw it up.

But a few years ago, something changed.  I remember when it was.  It was just after I came back from the US, in January ’08.  While in the US I had fully discovered Mythbusters thanks to a good week of being sick with a terrible flu, and my friend Missy had insisted I head back to her place in Illinois and she’d taken me in, propped me up in the recliner in the living room, surrounded me with her dogs and handed me the remote to the telly while she almost waited on me hand and foot for a couple of really bad days.

When I came home, I scrounged up all of the Mythbusters DVD’s I could find, I was hooked.  We had them in the collection at work, but I also started buying them too.  One evening I was watching an episode, I remember it was the myth about firing bullets into water, and a lightbulb went on in my head.  I understood the maths and physics they were talking about.  I had always really struggled with maths, I do have visual problems with numbers, but my absolute fascination with the myth they were working on had me taking my time and focusing on what they were explaining, and I suddenly realised that I could really understand maths, for the first time in my life.  I was 35!!

From that moment, Mythbusters went from just a great show with explosions, silly inventions and breaking stuff (and a bloke I fancied – Jamie) to something that I was learning vast amounts of things from.  It was inspiring me to go and read more, find things online and indulge my natural curiosity.

I’ve always loved to research, but I had always thought that was very much limited to history, that it was the only thing I could really learn about.  Boy, how wrong was I there?

In the almost 3 years since that lightbulb moment, I’ve learnt a bajillion new things, and a lot of them have really challenged me.  I have gone from a librarian who was all about cataloguing and database work, to a librarian who now has her expertise in AV (audio visual) technology, social media, ergonomics, and IT asset management and procurement, with additional knowledge in furniture and joinery, architectural drawings, electrical,/data/AV cabling, building construction, project management, and dozens of other things I’ve had to dabble with as my job has evolved, now that I’m confident enough to have a go.

Where once I would have freaked out at the idea of learning something new for my job, now I am constantly looking for something else to get my teeth into that interests me, and my fear of failure is all but gone.  I have a healthy nervousness about getting things wrong, but no longer a crippling fear.  Change doesn’t daunt me, it energises me.  It gives me a challenge.

There is nothing I cannot learn if I want to learn.  I may never be great at it, I may never change the field, but I can learn about anything, understand it and apply it.

Do you know what?  There’s nothing YOU cannot learn if you want to learn about it.  It’s not always easy, sometimes it’s a big ole strain, but if I can do it, you can.

What is something you want to learn about/to do?  What’s holding you back?


November 3, 2010. achievements, Adam Savage, Big 50, Jamie Hyneman, learning, Mythbusters, work.


  1. Jenn replied:

    Excellent entry, Kath. I know that “block” you mean, I find myself in that same situation. I’m still hoping to get that block out of my head as well. My husband tells me I can do anything I put my mind to, and I know it, but for some inane reason I still struggle with all the past “you’ll never be able to….” fill in the blank.

    It doesn’t make a lick of sense to me because there are things where I have proven the “masses” wrong…. for example… there were people who had serious doubts that I’d even be able to get my driver’s license, let alone drive a car that had a manual transmission. Well, thanks to some patient guidance I was able to master driving a “stick shift” and got my driver’s license AND could parallel park a Plymouth Voyager Van.

    So why do I let that block remain? Probably because like you were once, I am afraid of failure. I soooo want to go back to school, but have no idea what for..

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      And the truth is, you can learn ANYTHING! Just jump in and have a go.

  2. sweetnfat replied:

    Fantastic post! I love that television is teaching you things! I feel like I want to learn absolutely everything, but I struggle with things like science and tools and cars and sometimes common sense. :p I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of years reading and learning about feminism, rock hounding, gem cutting, and comic-making, but I often feel like there’s not enough room for everything I ought to know. I love to learn, though. When I find the right teacher, I really take an interest in just about anything.

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      I used to thing science and math and tools and engineering were beyond me too. Just turns out that they weren’t being explained well. Sometimes the fault is with the teacher, not the learner.

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