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Tutorial hell: what does it look like?

You’re never ready for what you have to do. You just do it. That makes you ready.

– Flora Rheta Screiber

I’ve been stuck in what they refer to as a tutorial hell for about a month. It’s when you can’t seem to get past the schooling phase of your learning journey. I haven’t always known what it’s called but the word came to me while I was observing a friend’s WhatsApp status on a warm afternoon in August. I had just completed yet another episode of my tutorials and I was looking for ways to kill time before moving on to something else that would excite me when I subconsciously swiped left on the app. I was immediately presented with several circles of updates from the select few who still managed to post updates to their contact lists.

I mostly found these updates overwhelming so I often left them unchecked. On that day however, someone posted something (I don’t remember what now) that caught my eye and the weirdest FOMO I’ve ever experienced gripped me by the throat and I was left with no other choice than to click on this update and assuage my curiosity. Before I could bat another eyelid, the autoplay feature —which apparently isn’t restricted to YouTube videos— kicked in and my phone took upon itself a life where I was ceded of its control and it was when it casually stopped on this contact, by a machination of its own, that I saw the update. It was one of those Instagram-styled jarring quotes that whoever created it almost always intends for it to humiliate whoever reads it.

screenshot of the referenced status update

Before then, I had been grasping the reality of my struggle with being stuck in one position for quite some time. I didn’t know what it was but I knew that I was meandering in a circle and I wasn’t exactly sure of what to do about it. Upon further research, I realised that this term is one that is widely used among developers or programmers and considering that I am neither of these two things, I pondered for a bit on the plausibility of taking it out of that sphere and using it loosely; which eventually made sense to me. If I had to describe what my tutorial hell looks like, I would say that the walls of the room are a drab white and the only illumination I get is from a long single tube of an overhead fluorescent light that sparks, causing the light to flicker from time to time. It’s cold and there is no wall art, not even graffiti. Basically, everything in there is uninspiring and I experience little motivation to get up from the iron-made bunk bed where I sit all day and watch someone else explain theories to me over and over.

It’s a relatively safe space to be in, albeit, nothing much goes on and while I agree that it’s logical to stay close to familiar grounds, I know it’s not what the world is built for. Learning is great and staying in that web of knowledge for as long as we want is probably even greater but let me tell you what else I’ve found that’s even greatest is doing as you’re learning. At first, it sounds very counterintuitive especially because when you’re learning about something new, you want to amass as much knowledge as you can concerning that subject. Eventually, you find yourself in an endless cycle of absorbing concepts that are so much that you become lost in them. In the end, you realize that what you do know never suffices for what is required to be done. And then you implode within yourself from all the disappointment of you not measuring up, that ensues. All of these are avoidable though, if you would simply get up and leave the room. I know, because I did.

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