I wouldn’t say I used to be afraid of failure. Like any enthusiastic teen, I saw life as a challenge and an opportunity all at the same time, and I almost reveled in the newness of adventure. I was passionate, and boy, was I determined. There was a glow to each new interest I acquired, and I felt compelled to finish what I started–dotting all i’s and crossing all t’s.
But lately, as I approach my twenty-third year of existence (twenty-fourth in Korea, but that’s another story) I’ve been noticing a lack of motivation towards things I used to find intriuging. There’s this void that I feel now. I wouldn’t say I’m not passionate, but rather, it’s more like an absence of drive. The push factor, the “umph” idea that so many things I enjoy used to possess now seems… obsolete. What’s wrong with me?
They say as you grow older, your love of childish concepts and adolescently-geared notions diminishes, and honestly, that thought terrifies me. Looking at the “adults” around me (I used quotes because, by societal standards, I, too, am an adult. But my bank account drastically tells me otherwise), I see this lack of empathy with young minds grow and foster distance between generations. Take my mother, for example. I love this woman to the ends of the Earth, but when it comes to connection between my brother (who just turned a grand ol’ thirteen-years-old this past July) and herself, something is missing. There is an absence of understanding, a gap in empathy. While I, myself, can still relate to my younger brother (I’m still considered a millennial, I’ll have you know) on a deeper level about issues such as his favourite show ending, or running out of data (#tragic), my mother seemingly cannot. And I don’t know why (well… maybe I do).
But this has got me to thinking–will I end up this way, too? Is this what the future has in store for little ol’ Jasmine? Because I’m starting to feel it.
In the past, my passion towards the Korean language was endless. I’m talking notebook pages filled with new vocabulary, and constantly pestering my boyfriend (who, if you don’t already know, is Korean) to help me translate phrases to write on my binder (most commonly “G-Dragon I love you” and “Big Bang are my everything.” Don’t judge me–I was 15). Everyday I was finding new ways to learn, to grow, and to achieve something that I was passionate about. I was motivated to study and to become fluent. Even last year, when I spent my summer studying the language at one of Korea’s best universities, there was still a fire inside of me that urged me forward. There was something and it pushed me, drove me to expand my knowledge.
So what the hell has happened?
Lately, I can’t seem to find any reason to pick up my self-guided textbook (which I specifically bought for this specific purpose because I knew I couldn’t take classes and I knew I wouldn’t be motivated). I stare at it, daily, as I’m getting ready to frequent my favourite local cafe, and I feel nothing. It sits there, and I almost feel sorry for it (how Canadian of me, eh?) because I have barely touched the poor thing in weeks. But why?
Fear. It is innate fear that is holding me back, and I didn’t realize it until today. As I sat in my classroom prepping for tomorrow’s classes, in the distance I could hear one of my fellow foreign English teachers conversing with our director in fluent Korean. And it hit me–I’m scared of never being good enough and being compared to other teachers, better teachers.
I know this seems backwards, but hear me out. For as long as I can remember, I’ve surrounded myself with supportive, encouraging people who have helped make my language learning journey amazing. But thinking back on it, I’ve always been the only person actually partaking in said language learning–everyone else has merely been observers. But now, I’ve surrounded myself with people, just like me, who are also running down this path to fluency. However, there’s a catch–these individuals have been here a hell of a lot longer than I have.
And yet, here I am, comparing myself in typical Jasmine fashion. (Oh, when will I learn).
I can’t do this though. If there is one thing I’ve learned, and I hope you can learn, it’s that we all work on different schedules, and are at different points in our, for lack of a better word, journeys. As much as I don’t want to make a book reference (but let’s be real, I’ve been dying to do it this whole time), we all are on different chapters in our lives. How can we compare chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby to chapter 14 of The Portrait of Dorian Gray (sorry, I had to)? You can’t, and just in the same way, I (and maybe you) cannot compare myself to others who are similarly learning this language as well.
I guess what I’m getting at is we all, at some point in our lives, need to take a step back and applaud ourselves. We’ve come a long way, and we still have further to go, but we really need to appreciate what we’ve accomplished so far. Let what you’ve become motivate you to continue growing, continue learning, and continue fueling that passion for what you love.
So on that note, I’m going to relieve that book from its misery over there, on my desk, and get back to making my goals a reality. And I suggest that you take a look at your shelves, dust off those forgotten dreams, and bring them new life once again as well.
Happy Wednesday, everyone.
Until next time,