I first started learning guitar in 5th grade. I had lessons once a week and learned the notes on the open strings + first 3 frets (naturals only, no sharps or flats), one string per week. Naturally the first lesson was kind of boring cuz how many songs can you really play with E, F, and G? lol.
By the end of the second week I had doubled the amount of guitar notes I knew.
By the end of the third week I also had A and G on the G string. A full octave, and I could play some real songs now out of my Ernie Ball lesson books:
(mine were the older ones with the black cover but same thing I think)
After that, I learned the open chords. And then the bottom 3 strings.
Then I learned bar chords (the first form that everyone learns, R, 5, R, 3, 5 R). It was a struggle for my 5th grade hands to play them, but I did it. I was unstoppable and knew how to play any chord you could name (as long as it was a major, minor, 7th, or minor 7th; but I didn't know other chords existed yet so I felt like a boss).
Then I learned the pentatonic scale.
I felt like a boss at this point. Lessons were always fun.
Eventually I started to realize just how much I didn't know. Lessons stopped being fun. Modes? Wtf are those? How come I don't sound like Joe Satriani? He can play that high fast stuff but I can just dick around on the blues scale. Power chords? Hey, cool, now I can play almost every Nirvana song. I got the black album book and could play all the rhythms and intros but never the solos. I couldn't sweep pick for the life of me. I tried for months and it just wasn't happening.
I hit a plateau and it stopped being fun. My progress slowed to a crawl over the next 3 or 4 years.
Eventually I stopped playing guitar, playing maybe once or twice a year for the next 10 years. Each time I did, it was just a reminder of how I had stalled and stopped getting better. Boo. Not fun.
Like 6 or 7 months ago I went to a Sam Ash "just for fun." Whoops, the bug hit me again. Busted out my old guitar. Bought a new amp. Bought a new (used) guitar.
I only play a few days a week now, but it's fun again, and I'm making progress now that I never made before. I'm starting to understand modes and how they fit together. I can sort of sweep pick sometimes once I'm warmed up now.
Perhaps most importantly is the huge availability of backing tracks available online. HOLY COW THIS DID NOT EXIST BACK WHEN I USED TO PLAY GUITAR I'm not even kidding that I think this is probably at least 50% responsible for the improvements I've made in the last few months. And I think the other 50% is probably because I basically took a break for years and shed some of the bad habits and mental limitations I had before.
I still have a lot to learn, and hopefully I didn't jinx my progress with this post, but I love playing guitar again.
I'm self taught. Which means, I learnt some Slayer riffs, stopped trying when they got to difficult (and never quite recovered... but that's another story) and started my own stuff. Started a band which was Slayery/Deathy thrash and had a blast. I started trying to learn more theory and I felt a few years later that I was always trying to fit riffs into scales and make music "right" and it actually killed my creativity and flow. I worried too much about it rather than just making it sound evil and joining riffs together which actually made for more interesting music, in hindsight.
Still, I think I've found a happy medium ground now. Playing simple riffs is often more fun than sweating over something technical, and I'm still no master of theory anyway. If I push myself technically now it's just to give myself some more 'headroom', if you know what I mean. I still have fun otherwise I'd sell my gear.