"Just keep showing up.", "Focus on defense.", "Get on top, stay on top."
All well intended, and arguably valid advice for new Jiu Jitsu practitioners. The first few months of Jiu Jitsu are a blur of new movements, techniques, faces, names, customs, hygiene practices, and even languages to learn! On top of all this, there are the new physical demands like fatigue, muscle soreness, and wondering how you got that bruise on your armpit shaped like new jersey?!
Is there a way to make Jiu Jitsu easier? Well, in some ways no. But in other ways... YES. Here are a few actionable items to help learn Jiu Jitsu as a beginner (or not).
Step 1: Focus on recognizing the major positions. Realizing where you are takes time. Try to pinpoint, during training, which positions you find yourself in frequently, and take notes on them. At first this might just be names like "bottom of mount", "top of mount", "top of side control", "bottom of side control". Yes, as your wise friend told you earlier, you are probably going to be spending some time in defensive positions, but, it will be easier to study the next step, if you know where you are.
Step 2: Examine the goals from those positions. Buggy chokes aside, it's fairly easy to realize that you'll be defending from certain positions and attacking from others. But there are countless more nuanced positions in Jiu Jitsu. What are you goals from open guard? Closed Guard? Inside the closed guard? Keep in mind the GOALS, meaning what are the major conditions you are trying to meet? Should you be trying to sweep your partner? Pass the guard? Escape?
Step 3: Find techniques that facilitate the goals. Here is where the efficiency of Jiu Jitsu becomes apparent. That goal of knock my partner over and get on top from closed guard , becomes a scissor sweep, which transitions to the mount. The goal of submitting your partner from mount becomes an x-choke or arm bar, and so on. Without the goal in mind, the technique is harder to find.
Step 4: Have a goal and technique from EVERY major position. Now you can start to tick your boxes. Go back to step one and repeat the process for each of the major positions you've discovered. Disclaimer: this is going to take longer than 6 months. But, fortunately for all of us, Jiu Jitsu isn't going anywhere.
Trying to keep your approach as simple as possible will carry your through your entire Jiu Jitsu study. Even as advanced practitioners and teachers, we are always trying to extrapolate the most simplified understanding, and build up our knowledge from there.