Are you an autodidact?
An autodidact is a self-taught individual who approaches learning without direct guidance from others. Put simply: "autodidact" is a fancy way to say "self-learner".
To be an autodidact is to be curious about learning. Being curious about learning leads you down rabbit holes that connect with niche subreddits, strange YouTube accounts, and poorly scanned PDFs with tiny text.
Autodidacts build their own ad-hoc curriculum using these resources, taking bits and pieces until the resulting synthesis of information is enough to satisfy their curiosity, or to become actionable.
The drive to self-learn is propelled by curiosity and the burning desire to make use of the knowledge being accumulated. This is why autodidacts form their own curriculum: existing lesson plans are rarely tailor-made for action. Any superfluous chapter or lecture has the potential to extinguish the spark of curiosity and dull excitement of learning.
The internet is a life changing gift for autodidacts. Prior technology (books) was functional, but sampling and scouting new sources of information—an essential part of autodidacticism—was less modular and more time intensive.
Not only does the internet invent new ways for us to self-learn, but it also publicizes the success of autodidacts and glamorizes self-learning. The success of self-taught coders is one of many examples. Self-learning is cool now.
The internet may also be loosening the definition of what an autodidact is. Self-directed learning doesn't have to be limited to a purely solo pursuit, especially if it comes at the cost of learning. It's never been easier to find a tutor, a mentor, or a community capable of bringing you closer to achieving your learning goals.
We now have the option of learning almost anything we want to learn, from the comfort of our home. We're living in the future. A future where autodidacts will thrive.