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On Mastery: Getting an Education

They say mastering anything — be it a musical instrument, a new language, a trade skill, or a sport — requires around 10,000 hours of practice. I’ve found this to be true in my own journey, uncovering some valuable insights along the way.

In a structured educational system, we receive a predictable curriculum with set expectations. Over a defined period, the program and its instructors lead us through the basics and beyond, aiming for certification. This method has its perks: we’re focused, loaded with exercises, and guided towards our aspirations. It’s a rigorous path that molds us into what we aim to be​.

When we forgo formal education, we might choose the autodidact path, where we are our own mentors and motivators. This self-guided approach often leads us to judge and critique our work harshly, which can either free us or subtly restrain us. We tend to be our own toughest critics, often merciless in our self-evaluations. For artists, this struggle intensifies — art is a wild force that can be a lifelong tormentor, but embracing this challenge is part of the journey and the growth that comes with it​.

When you’re in a school with peers, you constantly receive validation, critique, and influence. Immediate feedback helps correct mistakes and avoid bad habits, which is crucial if you aim to follow a well-trodden path. This structured guidance is useful for those seeking a career with predictable opportunities.

In contrast, the independent route offers no predictable opportunities or set career paths. The skills you develop are entirely self-made, driven by your own efforts and imagination. This freedom is exhilarating but also isolating. In a society built on competition and commerce, such independence can be both a blessing and a challenge.

The concept of “making a living” is often loaded with negative connotations. When we step into the “real world,” our confidence in our creative abilities, our productivity, and our self-certification can falter. Observing others’ success in our field—what’s selling, what’s popular, and what’s deemed acceptable—can lead us to harshly judge our own worthiness for recognition, support, and marketability.

The key is to remain open to unexpected and unique opportunities for life to support us. If there’s genuine excitement, engagement, passion, and a willingness to experiment and explore while honing your craft, that energy of potentiality resonates with those who appreciate and support your work—be they buyers, fans, or clients.

Today, you can learn nearly anything, anywhere, in any way you prefer. The same challenges apply: can we motivate ourselves, trust our efforts, and deem them good enough? We have the freedom to be, do, and have whatever aligns with us. We must trust the flow of life and what comes our way. We must be gentle with ourselves, remain open, and stay curious. No one else can live our story or offer the world what we uniquely do.

Be yourself, beautiful soul. Thank you for your courage and vulnerability. Thank you for your authenticity and your love for your art, your unique perspective, and how you share your true self with us.

Solvitur ambulando
Love your life