Motivation & Demotivation

(Cross-posted from the teaching software carpentry blog, this is the second part of my motivation stories [the first part was on why you should learn version control])

When I was in high school, I didn’t enjoy learning other languages that much. I’d pick up enough to get decent grades, but it was not something I really liked (I also had the advantage of being bilingual so that I never had to put any effort towards learning English). When I tell this to people who know me in real life they are sometimes surprised because, nowadays, note only do I speak three languages on a regular day, I can go up to five on a good day and I enjoy learning about them.

What changed? When I left high school and started traveling, I discovered that languages could be used to talk to people. Like most life discoveries, it is a basic fact of life, which I knew it already, but I didn’t realize the implications. My actually interacting with people in another tongue, I became more interested in knowing the languages an. Eventually started enjoying the details of the language for their own sake. The desire to talk to people transferred to a desire to learn about their languages.

Epilogue: Nowadays, when I need to learn a whole new field (like a year ago, when I started working on metagenomics). Instead of relying solely on reading papers &c I will start attending seminaries even when I don’t yet understand much of what goes on, I try to get into the discussions (naturally, at first, I just listen or ask questions; unable to really contribute). Eventually, I start looking up stuff that people said on my own and boom! I’m reading papers without any efforts.


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