What is the hardest thing you've ever had to learn?

For me it’s public speaking. Three years ago I could hardly bring myself to talk to any strangers. Every time I tried it appeared to be a disaster.

Now I’ve reached the level where I can talk on a professional level (e.g. sales people, teachers and customers), but I still have trouble with social conversations.

Still, to learn to talk normally to at least some people was pretty difficult. I must have made a fool out of myself countless times, but I think it was all well worth it.

What was difficult for you?

Probably the thing that surprised me the most was that I was able to hold a live tarantulla and even find myself quite liking them after a while. Scorpians too.

I used to do presentations for a zoo and the public speaking was really easy. I’m a total ham. I was always afraid of spiders though. My friend finally sat me down, taught me the proper way to handle arachnids and I was fine after that.

How and when to verbally defend myself or not.

Sounds like one of those “life lesson” things that you have one big thing and think you’ve learned, but that’s not what I mean. I mean that it has quite literally taken me a very long time and a lot of hard work to learn how and when to do this properly.

How to attract women, hold their attraction, and be charismatic and sociable in the general sense. This was harder than hell and it’s no surprise that guys who suffer from the same problems end up as desperate as they often do. Most people have no advice for you whatsoever, and when you do get advice, 98% of it is complete BS. Girls either don’t know what they like or don’t want to tell you, and guy don’t want to tell you because they don’t like the competition and they don’t want someone with awkward social skills hanging around them because it hurts their own chances. If you’re not related to anyone with any actual advice, you could be very well just be screwed…or never screwed rather.

Now that I feel like I do have a handle on the guy/girl dynamic, I have a hard time looking back at my more desperate years when I was really looking for answers without feeling angry at the people who had no advice for me even though they seemed to have all the answers.

The math in my college classes for Economics. It’s the only time I ever stopped trying to understand what was happening and just learned stuff by heart.

Raising kids.

Sorry, but it was the first thing to come to mind and drowns out the others rather quickly.

This is what I came in here to say. Nothing can really prepare you for being a parent except actually having your own child, and 98% of the advice you get is completely useless, because someone else’s experience with a different child in a different time and different place with different surroundings rarely relates to your own kid. The wider world heaps conflicting expectations all over you from the beginning, and all the time, you are painfully aware, as you get your on-the-job training on your own child’s time, that if you screw this up, you’re harming the most important and most vulnerable person that will ever be in your life, and it will be all your fault. No pressure!

Well, aside from the child-rearing thing which IMHO is probably too big and ongoing to even be considered a discreet experience I would say learning how to ski.

I was never very good at learning physical things and trying to take up such a different activity in my mid twenties was quite challenging, it felt like it took forever to be really comfortable on skis.

The hardest thing I ever had to learn was that just because I was a gifted kid didn’t mean anyone was going to give a shit after I turned 13. That was a rough year or two, but hey, better than the alternative.

If you mean an actual skill, probably parallel parking.

Physics. For most subjects I can study, understand, and get an A. Physics I studied and studied and it never sank in. I got B’s (I had to take a full year of physics, 2 semesters plus labs). It just never clicked.

Accounting. Math isn’t my best skill and accounting about did me in. Thank Og my mom had been a bookkeeper or I’d never gotten through 2 years of that class from hell.

Well go on then, share it… :smiley:

(no, really)

Organic chemistry. Caused me to change my major.

In social things, probably learning that my parents were indeed wrong, and doing what I wanted instead of what they wanted was OK.

To look people in the eye.

I was really getting the hang of it, too, and did it confidently for about 10 or 15 years, until, I think unconsciously, I realised it wasn’t actually gaining me anything useful anymore. And so recently I think I’ve slipped back into my shifty eyed habits.

Swimming with proper technique. It’s fairly easy for me to splash around and stay afloat, but doing it with efficiency and correct breathing was difficult.

Crosswind landings. I was well into my instrument and commercial pilot licenses before I really understood what I was doing with this. Before then I was making experimental pokes and prods at the controls and hoping to just drive it onto some useable part of the runway.

Anatomy / Physiology. The anatomy part is mostly memorization, but it’s a LOT. The physiology part brings it all together with functions. The shear volume of information was daunting.

Jumping off of a high diving board. I don’t mind heights in themselves, but I do rather despise plummeting from them. Took me minutes or hours to work up the nerve.

The card game Euchre.

I’m sorry but, although I’m generally a peaceable enough chap, if you volunteer to teach me how to play this game, I shall ask you to sign a disclaimer that you won’t seek any legal recourse if (not when) I punch you in the nose.

This game makes no sense.

“Just put the three of boobies on top of the Jack of pentagrams.”

“Why? those cards have no relationship to one another. Not suit, not colour, not number…”
“Of course they do, can’t you see?”

“Say… just asking, like… are you at peace with your God?”
I like to consider myself a lateral thinker, but this thing has stymied me for decades.

“Helpful” answers like, “Because it’s obviously a bower! Duh!” are met with, “Yeah, ok. Why?”
stony silence

I interpreted the OP to mean “the hardest thing you’ve ever actually learned”.

I managed to pass two semesters of organic chemistry and a few of advanced calculus but I can’t really say I learned anything so I deliberately didn’t mention them.


I’d say the hardest thing is not the mechanics of child-raising, but learning to put aside one’s sensitive ego as a parent, and do what is right - rather than what is easy - for your child.

I thought a good chunk of my electrical engineering curriculum is/was tough, but what is stumping me the most at the moment is learning to start an IV.

You wouldn’t happen to be my sister-in-law, would you?

For me, the hardest thing I ever learned would be the Cryptography domain for the CISSP exam. Actually, the whole body of knowledge - crypto is just one-tenth or so - for that exam is brain-damaging. By the time you leave the exam room, you don’t even know what your name is as there’s a puddle of gray matter on the table and floor after you’ve dumped it all out to find the answers to 250 highy technical questions.