D.I.Y.O.D.S (or why you should be an autodidact)

Looking back on my life, I realize that I've always been an autodidact. As a student I was a "satisfied santos": I was happy just getting by in some areas, but when confronted with a subject I was passionate about I excelled. I took it upon myself to practice more and find more information about these subjects. Later as a science instructor, I quickly discovered that teaching is the best way to learn. When teaching others, you're also teaching yourself! And now, more than ever, I thrive on finding new hobbies and crafts to try. I've really become passionate about self-learning and I think you should to. Here's why!

Be as fickle as you wish!
If there was ever a fickle pickle, it was me. I become disinterested in things very quickly sometimes. Say you're taking a class or a seminar, and you realize it's just not for you. Calling it quits could be rude, a waste of money, and possibly downright just not possible. When you take it upon your self to learn a new skill or idea, you can stop whenever you like. Or you can pick it back up if you change your mind again! 
On a whim I started playing with some clay and made a little giraffe. In the process I learned a bit about how polymer clay behaves and how to paint with acrylics. I took these lessons and made some more animals. The mood to sculpt and paint doesn't strike very often, but when it does I just pick it back up from where I left off. 

It's cheap(er)
Classes are expensive. School is even more expensive. Online classes are a little better. But the best tools an autodidact has are absolutely free: youtube and google. Back when Al Gore was inventing the internet, he obviously had autodidacts in mind. His vision was for it to be a world-wide, self-propelled university. With cat videos. Ok, maybe that's not true but that's basically what it is. Anything you want to know, you can find online. Heck, anything you don't want to know you can find online.
Granted, some hobbies themselves can get quite expensive. Photgraphy is a big passion of mine right now. Equipment and software isn't cheap. But all the information I need to learn how to use that equipment and software is free for the taking. It may take some honing of your search word skills, but it's there.

Create your own syllabus
Who can resist an adorable amigurumi with huge eyes and a little smile? You don't need to know how to crochet every type of stitch to make 1 pattern. If there's ever a stitch or technique that you don't know all you have to do is google it or look it up on youtube. Voila! You have what you need for that specific project. 
Once you've built up enough knowledge you can take it wherever you want! Make your own patterns. Build your own website. Fix your own car! 
You never know where it will take you!
Start a new business venture, create a lifelong passion, end up on TV! Exploring your passions and potential can have amazing results. 
I used to play The Sims 2. One day I saw a video someone had made using the game. It was like a mini movie and it blew my mind! "I can do that!" I thought. "I want to do that!" So I did! I started making my own Sims movies, or machinima. A year later I was contacted by The Sims advertising agency, asking me to make some stories and movies for magazine print ads and television commercials! A few months later, I was actually working at Electronic Arts making video content for The Sims 2. 

You really have nothing to lose by becoming an autodidact. Try new things. Seek out knowledge! Go forth and D.I.Y.O.D.S (do it your own damn self).


  1. I'm always surprised how many people email me asking how to do a certain stitch in a pattern they bought, when you can just YouTube the stitch and get the answer straight away.

    Then I realize how many times I forget to just YouTube something like "how to cut butter into flour for pastry dough" and sympathize with the emails again.

  2. you've just so eloquently explained all of my feelings about college and life in general. when i have a boring class, i get so angry because i feel like i'm wasting time. i'd much rather take classes of my own choosing on my own terms.

  3. Oh wow, that's so cool that you've worked for EA. I too got into machina, though my biggest passion is making AMVs.

    Recently Deadmau5 released an album with a song made up of Close Encounters of the Third Kind audio. This is my favorite moivie and I took it upon myself to create a music video using clips from the movie.

    I too am an autodidact and It's so great to see others share the same passions I do. <3

    1. Cool! A fellow machinimist (not a word probably). I'm going to look up that Deadmau5 song! I like that movie too, it might be the only bearable Richard Dreyfuss movie!

  4. This is such a great post! And I LOVE the little worm from The Labyrinth! So cute, I need to make one!! xx


  5. Oh my goodness...this is exactly what i think too. To me there nothing more rewarding than teaching yourself a new skill and then going off and making something of your own with it. Great post. x

    1. Yes! I hadn't even considered the rewarding part! Excellent point!

  6. I agree with everything you say - apart from Al Gore inventing the internet... I think you should have heard of this guy...


    great article!

    1. Thanks! I was totally joking about Al Gore lol. I've never heard of 'TimBL' before! I wonder if that's pronounced like 'timble'. If not, it really should be!

  7. I learned the word autodidact about 20 years ago and was so pleased to find that there was a word that described my love of and primary method of learning. This is a great topic for a post! I notice that you focus on online resources, but don't forget that not everything has been digitized and libraries are still a great pubic resource (and quiet places to learn that also usually have free wi-fi). Universities, colleges, and learning centers are also still relevant, and teacher can be invaluable as advisors and consultants.
    I've audited classes that I loved, as well as attending classes at places such as The New School and the 92nd St. Y in NYC and paid a fraction of the cost I'd have paid as a matriculated student. I recall taking a poetry class at the New School for a couple of hundred $'s with a brilliant professor (who had edited a poetry journal and personally known many of the great poets of the 20th century) and I did all of the assignments, participated in class discussions and learned a LOT, while students sitting right next to me paid around $1,500 for the exact same experience. The *only* difference was that they got credit toward a degree.
    I had a similar experience at the 92nd St. Y. I had signed up for a very expensive jewelry making intensive one summer at Parsons School of Design and showed up the first day to find that the acclaimed professor that was supposed to teach it had to drop it at the last minute and we would have an (unknown) substitute for the whole course. The class was extremely overcrowded, the size of the jewelry facilities had been recently cut in half to make room for another department so we would be squeezed in and have to share outdated equipment, and there was no air conditioning (no fun when soldering in the summer in NYC!!). I dropped it after finding this all out during the first class (they hadn't had the courtesy to inform us earlier). Later that summer I found out that the 92nd St Y (not a YMCA, btw, it's a venerable NYC institution... you can look it up; they have a lot to offer!) had a jewelry program. I checked it out and sure enough, they had a Fall class being taught by the same teacher that was supposed to teach the Parsons class, their facilities were incredible, and the class sizes were small. On top of all that, it was hundred of dollars less than the Parsons class! I went on to take classes at the Y in silversmithing, enameling, lapidary, and casting.
    I love the Internet and use it everyday to add to my knowledge in a wide range of subjects, but we autodidacts should remember that there are a lot of resources out there and some things can only be taught (or taught better) by people... in person. Of course with YouTube, video classes with chat or email components and setups like Craftsy and Creativebug , we're getting better at online courses, but until we have holograms that can manipulate objects, it will be hard to, say, learn how to throw a pot or blow glass (efficiently) online. Good luck and happy leaning to all autodidacts everywhere!


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