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Don’t Compare, Don’t Despair

There are only three people in the world you should ever compare yourself to:

  1. Yourself in the past.
  2. Yourself in the future.
  3. A baby who was born on the same day you started playing.

End of story.

  27 comments for “Don’t Compare, Don’t Despair

  1. ライトニング
    August 22, 2011 at 02:10

    Nice post. I always used to compare myself to other people on the site who ran through RTK and can do insanely high sentences each day while I’m stuck here only managing to pull out 10 monolingual sentences so far (it’s been around 1 months since the change)
    But then I realized, I shouldn’t care about their progress, because well, it’s theirs. And we are different people. As long as I know I’m doing it right I shouldn’t need to worry about other people.

    • kalek
      August 23, 2011 at 06:11

      On the topic of running though RtK, they likely know less than they let on because they raced through it. I tried racing through it at first and finished pretty quickly, but had an awful time and basically didn’t remember the second half of the book. I actually restarted and went at a steady pace my second time through, and by the time I finished, I knew every one pretty well. I think by the time I ended, my average number of new kanji per day during that time period was 13.

      On the topic of monolingual sentences, don’t worry too much about it. Just play with the dictionary. Look up definitions or words you already know or want to know. Make sentences of the definition if you find it interesting or helpful (I.e. If you enjoyed reading it), but don’t force yourself to make sentences of everything. Last, but not least, keep on deleting in your SRS, and keep on reading interesting material online. If you do these things the adding will increase on it’s own and eventually you’ll be adding 40+ sentences a day and all the reps to go along with that rate of adding with ease.

      Remember, there will be plenty of time later for you to be good at using a monolingual dictionary and learning every word you come across. For now, 10 new monolingual sentences a day sounds great, and it’ll only get better.

  2. 真沢田
    August 22, 2011 at 03:06


    Hear hear to that. I used to think ‘man, there are so many people on here that are better than me at Japanese. I should just quit right now’  
    I even saw some 14-year old high-schooler comment on here saying he had blitzed through RTK, was adding 20 sentences a day, and had a 94.2% hit rate on everything. Oh and the sun shone right out of is backside.

    I found it helpful reading on Steve Pavlina (I think?) that if you compare yourself to other people in what ever field, you are always going to find people who are better than you (be it with more money or Japanese skills for example). This in turn makes you feel unhappy with yourself and possibly envious of others.

    In sum: Khatz is right lol 

    • ライトニング
      August 22, 2011 at 08:57

      I’m 14 actually, And I’m just starting high school, well, tomorrow.
      I started during November of 8th grade when I was 13, Leaving from Korean. Never looked back.
      RTK took me about 4 months to complete, and I’ve been on sentences since. I’ve been a slight bit slow with sentences, but luckily I’m picking up the pace and today I got 30 from extreme sentence mining from some vlogs on youtube made by a 13 year old in japan, and ゼルだの伝説時のオカリナ3DS 😀

  3. 真沢田
    August 22, 2011 at 03:07


  4. Auslaenderraus!
    August 22, 2011 at 03:46

    I must disagree with you, Khatz.
    For me, there must be a challenge. So by comparing my language skills with others pushes me more and more. 

  5. August 22, 2011 at 06:49

    Really good post. Thanks!

  6. August 22, 2011 at 07:21

    I’ve followed your blog for years (since I was 15, now I’m 18 going on 19 lol) Though I never kept focus on learning Japanese, I could still speak a good bit of it. Never kept focused because I loved learning languages in general, the movies, the music, the culture, the food and all <3 Just pure love for it. Your blog was always inspirational, so much encouragement and to me this post was one of the most true when it came to myself.

    Most people spend their lives constantly comparing themselves to others, which makes them put themselves up or down. but I just want to thank you and say keep up the good work (>.<)/

    Ren Dizzle

  7. ベン
    August 22, 2011 at 07:42


    I recently watched Salman Khan’s TED talk(, and he talks about some interesting data they got from using a classroom paradigm where the children all truly work at their own pace. 

    I can’t remember the specifics, but essentially they found that the children who in an orthodox classroom would have been placed in remedial classes often sped ahead once they got past the roadblock they had hit – many times placing them in what would be the “gifted” category. If I recall correctly, he didn’t got too far in-depth on that point, but that little tidbit in itself is quite interesting. How many of those children would have been stuck in the low classes for the rest of their school career due to being labled “stupid” and not having access to the same materials as everyone else?


    • ベン
      August 22, 2011 at 10:50

      [Really need an edit button]

      I just realised my comment might not seem particularly relevant to this post… What I was trying to say was that we now have real data to support the fact that not only do different people learn at different speeds in the meta(wtf), but each person learns each bit of knowledge at different speeds – therefore there is even less reason to compare yourself to others! 😀

      Also, I just watched this video(by the same guy) and he exemplifies what he was explaining in the TED talk(with data to back it up): (Start at about 0:25:00, and I think you only need to watch for two or three minutes) if you’re interested.

    • Jim
      August 24, 2011 at 11:44

      very interesting :]

  8. 魔法少女☆かなたん
    August 22, 2011 at 14:48

    When I was first introduced to the idea of spaced repetition flashcards, I’ve encountered people who would say stuff about how they have 14,000 or something in 6 months. I was shocked, as I’ve never added them that quickly. While I’ve never quite felt my progress was inadequate or anything, seeing stuff like that makes me seem like a slacker in comparison. But in the end, I don’t need to impress people on teh interwebs with the large number of freeze dried, high sodium instant sentences I’ve acquired in large packs. They don’t matter.
    I’m still winning anyway.

  9. ガイ
    August 23, 2011 at 02:32

    thats just too wise khatz 

  10. jumbocrunk
    August 24, 2011 at 00:14

    Katz, this ‘Like or Dislike’ function should go.

    • Monochrome
      August 24, 2011 at 05:38

      You don’t… like it?

      • ライトニング
        August 24, 2011 at 07:23

        I don’t really see a point in it. Is it really needed to know how people feel about your post? If a post is hidden due to low rating (most of the time they aren’t even bad posts) people will click show anyways.

      • jumbocrunk
        August 24, 2011 at 09:12

        Lol, good one. No, I definitely think it isn’t needed on a site like this where conversation is generally really good , mature and there isn’t too much flaming or anything. AJATT isn’t youtube. People aren’t badly rating comments because they are stupid or spam, they are doing it because it disagrees with their own opinion. 

    • August 24, 2011 at 22:30

      Why are people who are agreeing with this statement *Liking* it? O.o

      • August 29, 2011 at 10:38

        Meh I don’t know, but let’s stop talking about useless things.
        Comparing yourself to others is never a good idea because you always end up feeling bad.

  11. アメド
    September 6, 2011 at 06:36

    It’s been sometime since I posted on the AJATT Blog. I was just looking at the comments above and the one that said “14,000 sentences in 6 months” caught my eye. I used to be an srs addict(I loved adding so much cards at once and loved pre-mined ones). But as I kept learning Japanese over the years(I’ve been studying for 2 years now, man time goes by fast). But overtime I actually deleted all my decks and started fresh(this was the only time I actually made a big change to my srs pace) and it went for the best actually. I didn’t delete my RTK deck of course but I revamped my vocabulary deck and sentence deck. I recently purchased a powerful laptop and I am able to maintain my srs reps and immersion for long hours on end. What I’m trying to say here is: there is no need to compare yourself with others, there will always be people better than you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t gain the skill that they have. Heck, when I started there was so many people ahead of me and were better then me at Japanese. Now, I’m ahead of most people who have been studying for 4-5 years (because I studied intensively and immersed a lot). 
    Overall my srs decks are only 3 now and I have a solid pace for each of them. Since I’ve srsed a lot before I can handle a fairly large amounts of reps in less than 1 hour each day. That leaves immersion,reading,practicing and having fun as well. I learned that the srs should be used a base for learning but it shouldn’t take too much of your time. I used to srs 70% of the time and immerse only 30%. Now I only srs for 20-30% and immerse for 70-80%(reading,listening,etc) and yet I can srs close to 500-800 reps a day and do them all in less than 1 hr. I’ve masted the way I can learn and how it effects me. Everyone has a different way of handling and learning, so you have to find your own way. Remember, anyone can succeed in learning Japanese but there are very few who keep it up long enough to feel that success.
    P.S. on a side note: if anyone is interested, I plan to start a website/twitter/facebook/youtube account for language learning and Japanese subtitling (this one I’m actually working with someone and we hope to create a group that subtitles Japanese/transcription). I’m aiming for the end of this year to have it up and running.
    Lastly, keep learning, keep succeeding, keep having fun(can’t stress this one enough, if your not having fun, then why are you doing it?) and know that you can succeed

  12. November 1, 2011 at 19:07

    As the Chinese say, 人比人气死人.

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