Yup. It’s been exactly one year, and I know this after checking my Jpod101 subscription history and noticing that I first subscribed a year ago on this day. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I finally decided to put my foot down and start learning a language instead of going back and forth between a few of them. I remember my first lesson and feeling like I was on top of the world after learning how to say “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” I remember telling myself I would only learn how to speak the language, but wasn’t interested in reading or writing it. Boy have things changed since then.
It’s been one whole year. I still can’t get that through my head. I have to admit that I was a lot more cocky when I started. Reality has really hit me. I remember saying “2 years till fluency.” Now I am scrambling to get through the FIRST Genki book and it’s been a year. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done. If I would have kept the momentum going, I think I’d be a lot farther along now. I took many long breaks. In the beginning, I would study every single day, sometimes for hours… and it was fun. It would be my break from school and other stressful situations. By this time, I pictured myself holding simple conversations in Japanese.
Reality hurts… I certainly haven’t reached the long-term goals I set for myself. But I’m happy that I’m still here. Honestly, I was thinking of quitting a few months ago after getting sick of everything. I was sick of spending money on resources, sick of studying foreign characters, and sick of blogging about it. Fed up I guess. The reason I’m still here is a funny one, mostly because it’s something that seems so small and insignificant, but it stuck in my head. Towards the beginning of my blogging days, I remember reading the comments at several J-Blogs and always clicking on the links to everyone’s blog. I would go through and take the time to read several of their entries and it was very entertaining. One day I stumbled upon some random kid’s blog. His post was titled something like “J-Blog Graveyard”. He was talking about wordpress. I don’t remember the exact quote but the post was about how discouraging it is to try and browse blogs of Japanese learners just to find out that most of them stopped writing about a year after they started . They had given up. And their blogs were left behind as a warning to all those who thought they could tackle this seemingly impossible language. I remember thinking “Yeah that’d never be me. I have been hardcore on this stuff for months, I can’t see myself getting sick of it. Especially going in knowing that it’ll get more difficult.” And there I was, just a few months later, ready to let it all go.
I can’t even remember that guy’s name or blog url. I just know that his words have stayed with me ever since. I don’t want this blog to just be another tombstone in the graveyard of FAIL. I want to keep going, no matter how hard it gets. I still love this language. There are too many positives to suddenly get lazy about it. I will keep going. Anyone who is just starting or is at my level, I hope you think about it as well. I’ll leave you with another inspirational message from my favorite J-Blogger, Koichi. These words have also left their mark on me.
What are some of your most vivid memories? What are some of your best memories? Most likely, some of your best memories also involved you being in a pretty stressful, tension filled situation. Maybe you were climbing a mountain, maybe it was your first kiss, maybe you were running away from an angry horse. Sure, at the time you may not have thought the experience pleasant, per se, but it’s a pretty awesome memory now that you look back.
Learning Japanese is going to be like that too. When things get tough, you have two choices: keep going and create awesome memories for your future self, or quit, and create your worst memories (or regrets).
Looking forward to another year of blogging!