Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr says, “Nothing is so commonplace as the wish to be remarkable.”
Certainly, all of us wish to be exceptional and amazing at something. Sometimes we haven’t quite made our mind about what it is that we wish to be great at, but we just know that there is something that we would love to be great at.
As kids, it can be a passion we discovered while having been given an assignment by a teacher, while playing an online game or while watching an elder sibling get praised for it. Other times it is something we lose hours and afternoons over because of how much joy it brings us. But what is it that makes others better than us at a thing that we might love just as much?
It is the time and patience to practice that particular thing over and over again.
Luckily, a thing that we have plenty of in our childhood is time. This time is ideal for skill-building and excelling at what we love, if utilised properly. In fact, if we start to work on certain skills early in our childhood, then we can benefit from them all our lives! We get a head start where many others might not have even learned about a subject.
Also, getting into the learning habit early means once we are over with learning something, we can always move on and start something else. This also makes future learning easier for us because, according to research, if we are learning a skill, we are teaching our brain to form “synapses”. This is a network formed between brain cells, which is fed by electrical impulses and strengthened every time we practice doing that one particular thing. Just like an electric circuit when we turn the switch on. That might be why in cartoons, we see a yellow bulb light up over a naughty character’s head when they have another naughty idea!
One of the simplest skills you can build in your school years is writing a journal. It is an easy way to organise your thoughts, brainstorm or simply let out all your bottled up feelings. This can be your personal daily habit recorder as well.
You can also choose to record all memorable and significant events of your life in it. But don’t forget to date every journal entry and keep it safe so that your future self can reach for it and enjoy this time capsule years from now!
Learning how to code programming languages is another useful and interesting skills for children. You can do this by using free online resources, some of which are apps that use games to teach basic programming languages that children can easily learn. Some of the best app resources are: CodeSpark Academy, Tynker, Kodable and CodeMonkey. However, do ask your parents’ permission to check out these websites just to make sure they are fine with your using these resources.
Practicing mental maths is something that will make your mind sharper, score better in your class tests and be quick on your toes in real life too. You can find free maths worksheets and games online that use maths along with using your class textbooks to understand concepts.
Anyone will be impressed if you can calculate your grocery bill in your mind before the cashier reads his screen.
But don’t forget about your body while training your mind. Pick a sport you enjoy and play it often. You don’t have to be exceptional at it or beat all the other players, you only have to enjoy it. It will give your body exercise and exposure to sunlight which will strengthen your bones and help you grow healthy.
Sports teach a lot of values, such as teamwork, discipline, resilience and patience. These can in turn help you be a better sportsperson than you started off as. And also reflect in other areas of your life.
An impressive skill you can practice is improving your typing speed. An average person types 45 words a minute and anything above it is great for a beginner. The benefit of having a fast typing speed is that you can make your computer do something as quickly as you think it!
You can write, proofread and revise in the time that it takes an average person to just write and that will improve your efficiency.
Best of all, you can practice this many times in a day in under 10 minutes and see an exponential improvement soon! The best free resources to practice this are: 10fastfingers.com and typingtest.com.
A new language
Learning to speak a new language is something you can do with little effort or time and it will definitely help you at some point in life. By a new language, I do not mean it has to be a foreign language such as French or Greek. It can even be any of the Pakistani regional languages that you hear around you but do not understand or speak.
If you have a good friend at school whose mother tongue is different from yours, you can ask them to teach you a few sentences every now and then, which you can then practice with them.
As for a foreign language, it will be a great help if you travel abroad or even in your career it will give you an advantage over others. There are many apps and websites that teach different languages and you can check them out to see which one you find more suitable.
A new language will also give you a chance to explore the literature and music of that region and open up a whole new world to you.
It is important to remember that every difficult task is difficult till it becomes easy for us eventually. Therefore, hard work and patience is the key in becoming successful at anything that you love. After all, all things we love require attention and dedication before they choose to love us back.
Published in Dawn, Young World, October 3rd, 2020