Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh! I cannot wait to answer this questionnnnnnn! I am SO excited you asked this. Ok! So here’s what you do. First, start listening around you and see if there is some subject or question that you just want to learn more about. Like why poor Pluto got demoted and then re-promoted and then who knows-what-moted-today in the planet category? Or why dogs sleep so much, or why the Great Wall of China fascinates us so, or how to code a website from the backend, or why French people have so many dang kinds of cheese. ANYTHING.
So, you come up with a topic, and then you start poking around. You learn as much as you can. Get your feet wet, so to speak. Get the lay of the land. Watch YouTube videos. Listen to TedTalks and Podcasts. Read blogs. Post in Forums (like this one, yay!). And of course, go to the library!!!!
As you do these things you are going to start to become familiar with the areas available to learn about in this topic or subject area (also called a discipline). Then you choose an area that most appeals to you. People don’t just study an area, they specialize. When you figure out some questions and specific areas that really fascinate you most, YOU GO NUTS. You really do a deep dive. Who is writing about this now? What are they saying? Do I agree? What’s being done about this? Where can I learn more? How can I get involved? Is there a camp or club or Forum or webinar or certificate? How do I build that or do that or create that?
And you just keep going! I suggest you create your own bibliography, that is to say, every time you access a source of info, WRITE IT DOWN. (If you can. This gets hard to remember because you just go so darn excited that the learning happens FAST. But if you can write them down, do. It gives you something to show a professor you may be talking to when they ask what you’ve read, or to show an admissions officer when they ask what you’ve done to learn about the history and significance of wind chimes (or whatever your passion is).
In short, Maya, independent research changes your life because it directs the course of your sailboat as you navigate your way across these seas of our lovely world.
Keep reading, friend!