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starting things as an adult

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I mentioned recently that I’ve taken up the oboe. It’s quite good fun, but of course, I sound terrible at the moment. That’s a bit of a problem because my lessons take place at the local music college, where the students range from 16 to 25 are planning on making music their career. And I’m in a practice room learning to play Three Blind Mice (actually, that’s too advanced for me at the minute). Quite embarrassing.

It got me thinking about how much harder it is to learn things as an adult. Not because it’s intrinsically difficult, but because there’s a sort of “I should really already know how to do this” kind of feeling. It’s certainly true of adult learner musicians - most people learn to play when they are kids, or at the very least, teenagers. If you see an adult with an instrument, there’s an assumption that they can play quite well already.

I bet it’s also difficult to go back to college as an adult. If there are lots of non-traditional students, it’s not too bad but otherwise I bet the same kind of feeling exists, at least at the start.

Of course, we can’t all have done everything at the same age as everyone else. And there isn’t room, time, or money to do all the things you’d ever want to do as a kid. It wouldn’t leave much room for growing as an adult. There are benefits to picking things up late. You have a better appreciation for the work that you need to put in. You’re more likely to take things seriously, work hard at them and succeed. Doing things the long way round can lead to making a better job of it in the end.

This relates to finance as well. Maybe it would have been better to realise the importance of personal finance earlier. Maybe it would be helpful to have started investing for retirement 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Maybe it would be better if you weren’t in debt. Still, you’re here now, and that’s the most important thing.

Just as it’s never to late to learn Russian, take up the trombone, or get your bachelors degree, you can sort out your finances, and end up in more secure and stable position. Leaving you time for all the other things that you didn’t get to do as a kid. One of these days, I reckon I’m going to get round to learning how to unicycle.

Image by MikeBaird

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6 comments for “starting things as an adult”

  1. I think it depends on the skill you’re learning. Personal finance really everyone should know since the majority of the people on the planet have to deal with their own money so the feeling should be there, plus most of personal finance is just common sense (something the world is running short of). Things along the line of “If I borrow things, I have to give them back” and “If I spend all my money, I have none left” are concepts that my 6 year old already knows.

    Learning a skill that can only be learned through teaching and practice there should never be a feeling that “I’m too old to learn that” or that “I should know”.

    Posted by Traciatim | April 30, 2008, 2:47 pm
  2. You do have the advantage that as an adult you are doing it for yourself not for someone else, so can have more drive to succeed.

    But patience can be a problem.

    Keep it up.

    Posted by Llama for brains | April 30, 2008, 3:56 pm
  3. @Traciatim:
    Sure, everyone should know personal finance, but if you don’t it’s never too late to start learning, and people should be encouraged to do so. Learning is always good.

    @Llama for brains:
    Patience was an issue when I was a kid, I foresee it being worse as an adult.

    Posted by plonkee | April 30, 2008, 8:18 pm
  4. Good thing you’re never too old. Otherwise I’d be screwed. Since graduating last year, I keep coming up with classes I wish I’d taken. At some point I’m going to start taking them (probably once we have more income).

    Other things I’m going to learn on my own…there’s an html/css class @ our local community college, but I’m going to teach myself instead.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | May 1, 2008, 12:26 am
  5. [heh heh heh heh!] It’s never too late! Between me and my doddering friends, we have…

    * Learned professional-level ballroom dancing (starting from zilch)
    * Learned how to blog
    * Learned to paint, starting with pastels and water-colors and moving to oils (now producing art that people want to buy!)
    * After raising children and schucking off a couple of husband, gone back to school and obtained a Ph.D. in political science
    * Learned to ski
    * Learned to golf
    * Gone to law school and started a whole new career
    * Learned to sing
    * Learned to play the organ
    * Learned to cook

    It goes on and on. In real life and metaphorically.

    Posted by Funny about Money | May 2, 2008, 9:07 pm

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