Readers! I signed up for the second session of beginners Japanese.
I know, I left many of you wondering if I’d do it now, or do it later. Although, I don’t think it was too much of a mystery. Plus, you fine ladies and gents are of the smart/genius kind of human, so I know you figured it out after last week’s posting. However, in the case that you were mystified and unsure, I’m here to tell you that I decided to continue. Also, if this past week’s class was a sign of things to come, I am so glad I signed up immediately rather than waiting for 10 weeks to go by!
Monday was a bit of an odd day for me-it started off late, but again it’s more so that my brain is reeling from all the work I have to get done in the next two weeks. There just isn’t enough time. And yet, I know it’ll happen and in between that time, I’ll sleep, eat, cook, clean, fend off the rain, and write random sentences in Japanese so that I don’t ever have a class like the class I had on Monday!
Monday night, I walked into class and said, “sumimasen” which means, “I’m sorry” in Japanese. Dai, was pleased to see me and said, “rocking that you’re in class today, Sara-san.” That made me giggle. Remember, slight crush on my instructor?! I sat down, got out my books and then fell into a black hole of what the hell is he talking about?
See, we returned to conjugation, but added things like nouns and adverbs. We also learned about how to define the REAL subject when there are two subjects in a sentence. Over all, the class made me think that I know absolutely nothing about English sentence structure. But then I realized that it is more like English sentence structure and Japanese sentence structure are two different, extremely different monsters.
I also learned something that I’ve always known about myself. When I am stressed out, I retain nothing and blabber like an idiot for a good portion of the time it takes until I calm down. For example, as I sat at the table, trying to write down notes, trying to listen to my classmates ask each other questions and hyperventilating because I could not follow, I sat there not retaining anything. At one point, I even made up my own rule about using adverbs after a verb, which by the way is not acceptable in Japanese. The reason why all of this was going on is really all because I made the decision to take the class last-minute and then BAM!, it was Monday night and I hadn’t looked over my words once. So not only was I trying to listen, write and speak, I was also trying to figure out what words everyone was using from what sheet and then also trying to figure out how the sentences were being strung together.
In the end, when I calmed down and stopped stressing out, I understood better. I was able to answer the questions in Japanese and ask questions as well. More importantly, I was able to listen and understand instead of listen and freak out from not understanding.
I think in large part this has to do with Dai who has an amazing amount of patience with me, but I also put my ego in check. Actually, I had to put my ego in check because if I had not, I would not have been able to open my mouth. I have known for some time that when I’m confronted with not knowing something, I freeze up. While this normally pushes me to try harder and learn more, it’s an after effect. In the moment, I freeze to the point of debilitation and I get overly critical of myself. Not good. Yet, if we look back to a blog posting a few weeks ago about me being impatient, this is another great example and something that when I really look at things has a habit of recurring.
I’ve also noticed this about myself when I’m around people I consider “more intelligent.” I freeze in fear that I can not communicate at their level. Ridiculous, I know! Also, completely untrue, but nonetheless, I have to stop myself from freezing and losing my exuberance. Instead, I focus on speaking on what I do know, or stating that I don’t know and ask if they can elaborate. This is exactly what I had to do with Dai. I had to confront that I was facing the fear of not knowing and combining that with my fear of looking like an idiot and just go for it. Which I did. I also started breathing (always a good step in the right direction).
The important thing here is the lesson I learned: I’m playing with two of my enemies: procrastination and fear. The reality is that when it comes to things I care about, it is best not to leave them for the last-minute. Yes, procrastination has always been my friend, but procrastination does not make for good business practices, nor does it give clarity or peace of mind. When you add in fear to the mix, it only makes it worse. (I love how it only took me six weeks of Japanese to learn this!)
I think the key difference in this case versus all the other cases where I’ve procrastinated or just stopped (thanks to fear), is that I’ve made the time, or had the time – I could procrastinate in college, after all, I was sitting around learning all day long. I have carved out time for marathon training and running because it becomes a habit that I’m not willing to sacrifice. Therefore, I can, no matter what, dedicate an hour or two a week to practicing and memorizing Japanese so that I am not sitting in class like a deer in headlights.
I realize I’ve gone many which ways in this posting today, but sometimes it’s amazing what clarity you get when you actually take the time to look into areas of your thoughts. Reflecting on this has made me realize that I need to approach every aspect of my business the same way I’m approaching some one I think is smarter than me, or learning Japanese-by not freaking out, not letting fear dictate things (not that it does, but every once in a while it appears), and by slowly approaching things so that I can develop the confidence and skill needed to continue on.
On a final note, back to the subject of the blog, my favorite part of Monday’s lesson was when Dai asked a classmate to ask me in Japanese “if I washed the dish.” Dai was teaching us new vocabulary words and he said, “Sara-san, this is a new word you’ll like. Dish in Japanese is “sara”.” My classmate laughed and then asked the question with my name twice. I have to admit, I kind of like knowing that my name means dish in Japanese. I already think I’m quite a saucy dish already!