In spite of starting conditions, each of us can grow beyond the space we initially occupy. For the exceptional person, a perpetual state of learning is necessary to avoid surrendering to entropy. They are never completely satisfied with what they know or can do. Exceptional people are addicts for expansion. They must be if they are to accomplish what they care about to the best of their abilities.
The great trap you must avoid is allowing the world to direct your curiosity onto things you have no care for. It is the default state of ordinary people to push their interests and concerns onto whoever will listen. Nature abhors a vacuum, and those with authority will rush to fill the vacuum they perceive in your head. If you can sidestep these social pressures, you can direct your own learning onto the exceptional path you have chosen.
It is difficult to judge productivity without some conception of a goal to aim for. You won’t always have this luxury though, especially when you are still early in your development. One rule to find solace with is that time is never wasted if it is spent engaged in something you care about. Every new experience that you are emotionally connected to contributes to your knowledge or abilities. The more consciously you are able to direct your time for things you care about, the faster you will develop skills pertinent to those chosen pursuits.
Skills come in all forms. They should not be viewed through the limited lens of whatever your society finds valuable. Even when you play a game with no real bearing on reality, when you are detached from the outcome of your actions, you are still developing valuable new faculties for your body and mind.
Whenever you approach something that at first seems foreign and intimidating to your present sensibilities, the first is always analysis. Break it down into terms that your mind will understand. Find the common ground between that which you are already capable of and that which appears novel. You must also be willing to overlook what the world tells you is necessary if you are to gain a proper understanding of any new subject. The world’s ways are generalized for the masses. Only you can know your own mind well enough to see what it needs next. Only you can determine the ideal way to dissect any problem.
From the outside it may that no progress is happening right away. Initial progress is always internal. Only after sufficient mental restructuring, can you make the necessary physical adjustments that others will be able to see and appreciate. The key to rapid success with learning is never accepting that the way things are done is the way they must be done.
The world selects its champions for their accomplishments in isolated and easy-to-quantify domains. Nuanced excellence happens well beneath the surface of a person. It is hard to spot, even within yourself. You will not receive recognition for this kind of excellence unless you do something profound and marketable. It is all the little intricacies that make up what you know and what you can do, combined in just the right way to create the person you are. It is a much greater accomplishment in life to be celebrated for being what you really are than for any specific feat you may accomplish in your life.
Do fall into idle behavior because you don’t immediately see how the actions you practice now contribute to your deepest passions. Parallel skill development is what makes exponential leaps forward a possibility. When all the pieces, which on their own may have seemed worthless, finally fall into place, you will find yourself suddenly capable of great things that amount to more than the sum of their parts, things that you could not have imagined only a short time prior.
Whether you ever receive recognition for the truth of your identity, you will pursue it anyway. You will do it because there is no other sane choice for what to do with the awareness you have cultivated. There is no turning back on this journey. You must fully embrace the narrative you are now living into.