I put a lot of pressure on myself. This is a personality trait of mine that has on one hand, got me much success, while also managing to be a burden. For example, while my parents instilled in me to get good grades, whenever I happened to come short of that goal I got it from my parents, and myself. I want to be the best at practically everything I do, and I’ve gained a lot of weight and grey hairs in my struggles to do so.
This brings me to Spain and Spanish.
I’ve been studying Spanish since……….high school. I think maybe 10th grade? I was pretty good at it back then. I could recite verb conjugations like nobody’s business. This continued through college, and even after I started studying Portuguese. I’ve never received a grade lower than an A in a Spanish class. I’m an Alpha Mu Gamma language honor society inductee for Spanish and Portuguese, and I received ‘double honors’ from Morgan State University for my skills.
But when I got to Spain I was put in a beginner language course. I was at once, bored and thankful, because I’m rusty. At the same time though, my brain doesn’t seem to be clicking in the way that I hoped it would. I can understand a lot, more than I’m probably giving myself credit for, but my brain isn’t working automatically yet. Not in the way I do with Portuguese, which I find weird, because I haven’t studied Portuguese for as long or as formally as I’ve studied Spanish.
Either way, I’m studying, I’m trying to find ways to sneak Spanish into the music I listen to, the podcasts I listen to, so on and so forth. But I’m becoming increasingly paranoid that I’m not doing enough to learn.
Couple this with the fact that everyone I’ve met so far is on vacation right now. I’ve got the rest of September to relax and explore and get ready before I start work in October, and while I want to, I can’t help but feel like I’m running out of time.
Running out of time to see Spain. Running out of time to see Europe. Running out of time to learn Spanish! It’s the strangest fear of missing out! I know I have time. I have time to see Spain, I’ll be working here for 10 months. I have time to see Europe. It’s all around me and the flights, train rides, car rides, and so forth are cheap. And learning languages is never ending.
I don’t know if you study another language (you should! it’s good for you!), but if you do, you know that you’re never ever really done learning it. Living your life in another language, there’s always a blind spot, there’s always an event, a feeling, a circumstance that you never ran into before that you need to learn new nouns and verbs for. And that’s not even mentioning the phrases and idioms that one language has that another doesn’t. I learned, “ajo y agua” (garlic and water) two weeks ago and have been thinking about what that means ever since. Language is weird like that. You might become fluent, meaning you can converse well enough for most situations, but you might not ever get to a native-like fluency. That’s just how it is.
I say all of this to say, it’s too early to be frustrated with myself, but can I get permission to be just a little bit…anxious? I want to get this right, I want to have fun, and I want to learn (and I really, really, just wanna get out there and start teaching!). But I feel like I might want all of this now and it takes time.
This will take time, and Spain takes. its. time.
So I’ll just hurry up and wait.