- The Eternal Sorrow of the Intermediate Learner: “Are We There Yet?” Syndrome
- When Will I Get Funny?
- Intermediate Angst: Dealing With Feelings of Suckage
- Strategies for Overcoming Burnout
- Grinding: Focus On What You CAN Do
- Max Out The Cause Card: The Omnipotence of Precursors
- Intermediate Goals, Mini-Dreams
- Step Into the Sunlight, But Don’t Look Into the Sun
- Getting There Is Also Your Life
- It Counts If You Let It
- Start Dirty: Why A Clean Slate Is Bad For You and What To Do About It
- How to Stop Worrying and Accept that Learning a Language is Unfair — Going Beyond Day Trader Style Language Learning
- Speaking: You Don’t Have A Linguistic Problem, You Have A Humanity Problem — Why You Still Suck At Speaking and How to Fix it Fast
- Mastery is Mastering the Basics
- Language Is Peeing: The Approximately Top Ten Reasons Why Language Acquisition = Micturition
- The Intermediate Phase Is Like Tepid Tea, But That’s Fine, Because Tepid Tea is Hotter Than Ice Tea
“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” ~ Walter Elliot
You rarely get instant full victories, everybody knows that, even optimists.
But what almost no one knows is that you can and do and will get instant partial victories. All. The. Time.
And guess what? THEY COUNT! These count!
If you count them, that this. If you will let them count.
Life is full of these little wins. Every day, we’re winning.
The trouble with us is that sometimes we don’t let them count. Indeed, some of us never let it count.
The world is not being a jerk to you.
You are being a jerk to you.
The world is not being hard on you.
You are being hard on yourself.
You sit there, and you’re like “I only know one Japanese word.”
Well, isn’t that more than zero? That counts, buttface!
“Well, maybe I’m learning this Japanese word, but there are so many I don’t know.”
Your point is?
Is this one word you’re learning right now, is it or is it not a part of the Japanese language?
And will knowing it mean that you know more Japanese now than you did earlier?
And those other words, are they or are they not also single words?
How many words are you supposed to learn at a time anyway? You have 2 hands, 2 eyes, 1 mouth, ~1000 minutes in a day (only a few hundred once you deduct “maintenance” activities).
“Well, maybe I’m learning this Japanese word, but there are so many I don’t know.”
So what you’re saying is this word doesn’t matter, right? Because there are so many thousands of others. OK. There are over 7 billion human beings alive today: many more than there are, ever have been or ever will be words in the Japanese language. Let’s go kill your parents. What? What, that’s less than 0.000000014% of the total population. 2 in 7 bill, bro. Don’t be so stingy! What’s 2 bucks to a billionaire, son?
There are more people than kanji in the world. Yet you would never kill a person because they “don’t count”. So why denigrate your learning progress because it goes one or two words or kanji at a time?
There is no such thing as large victories. The late Stephen Covey used to talk about the private victory that precedes the public victory. What he really meant was that there are no large victories. Just jillions of tiny ones that we lazily sum up and call a single, large victory.
When you accept that, you win. You’ve already won. But if you don’t accept it, you’re screwed, because nothing will ever be good enough. And when nothing is good enough, nothing is what you’ll get. Yeah? You like that? It’s a little pun I picked up from an Archie comic in the 1990s…
We’re not done yet.
Because I don’t think you get it yet.
Let’s take track and field. 5000m. Or, the marathon. Take the marathon. Hmm…I dunno, temperamentally, I’m more of a sprinter myself, but…whatever. Take any race in track and field. Any distance.
Guess what? It takes more than 1 step to win or even just finish the race. Even the short ones. Even the 100m dash. Even the indoor 60m dash. Even the long jump, which isn’t even a race, takes more than one step.
But which step counted? Which step won it? The last one, right? So, let’s just take out all the steps like we did your parents a few paragraphs ago and case closed, right? Trim the fat, skip the foreplay, straight to DVD and ownage, right?
Oh, what’s that?
All the steps counted? All the steps helped? All the steps brought you closer to the goal? At no point would it helpful to be go “I’ve taken all these steps but I’m still not done; this race is unfinishable!”?
Nature, the Universe, “the Situation”, Snooki, whatever you wanna call it…is always…conspiring to help you. Trying to throw you a bone. But it only throws you cells because it doesn’t wanna crush you. And because people who can’t appreciate cells…I mean, would you give a grown dog to someone who was mean to puppies? Golden retriever puppies? That are so cute you just…nnnnrrrgh. Not pet owner material, right?
Events are like that. They have a way of not being events. Instead, they tend to drip out — BTW, Tuvok’s voice in Spanish “Star Trek: Voyager” is awesome — rather than coming in a torrent. And it’s just as well because people are pretty bad at handling a torrent; even a thirsty man doesn’t actually want to drink from a firehose. In fact, it would actually be rather cruel to violently hose down a dangerously thirsty person instead of giving them water in drinkable amounts. What’s that? Am I speaking from an experience I had one summer in Canada? Oh, no, no, no…
The whole system seems set up to almost always only give people what they can handle 1. Or maybe it isn’t, but it’s cool and useful to think of it that way — in a Douglas Adams Feng Shui sorta way. It’s almost as if there’s a rule that says: if this joker can’t appreciate one Japanese word, then don’t give him any more. Now, a part of you is going: “I’d feel much more appreciative if I had 10,000 Japanese words”. No ya wouldn’t. You’d find something to hate about it. Just like most lottery winners find a way to replicate their exact pre-lottery problems but with bigger numbers.
Ironically, I learned a lot more kanji a lot faster when I abandoned my whole “100% retention or nothing”, “anything less than 25 new kanji a day is a sin punishable by death” attitude. When I let 1 new kanji count, or even 0 new kanji and just reps count, I almost always got that and more. It must have something to do with the winning feeling; it must be self-reinforcing and thus ultimately self-fulfilling.
…Just like the losing feeling — self-loathing.
Self-loathing can always find a way. Not because it’s intrinsically powerful but because we can empower it; we can inject it into any situation, into any condition, no matter how wonderful.
If only you knew how small millionaires feel next to billionaires 2. Or billionaires next to deca-billionaires. Or RTK1 graduates next to RTK3 graduates. Or freshly minted PhDs next to tenured professors. Or Everest summitters next to K2 summitters because Everest is for tourists and posers and pansies — real playaz are on that K2 shiz, son.
There is always a way to not appreciate where you are and what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Now, going that way never helps, but it’s always available for you to take, if you choose to.
People are weird. Always complaining about “the pace of change”, and “things are happening so fast” and “I just need to slow down” and “we just met, why are you touching me like that?”. And then when they’re going slow enough, they’re too slow. Well, maybe things are happening at just the right pace and you need to get with the program. Enjoy the ride. Maybe every stoplight is a chance for you to chill, check out hot people, read a book (I once read a very dense political science tome cover to cover exclusively at stoplights).
Current cosmology tells us that our entire universe was once a cosmological singularity; that’s a fancypants way of saying it was really small. Infinitesimally small. Infinitesimally dense. But this universe…it didn’t give up like a little b###h. It didn’t quit. It didn’t whine about how the other universes had better constants. It just chugged along. Kept expanding. Apparently, it’s even expanding now. 15 billion years later, it’s still doing its SRS reps. Because, WTF, why not, right?
Now, take all that with a grain of salt because my knowledge of cosmology hovers around zero, and our collective knowledge of cosmology can change like an unstable woman (IS THERE ANY OTHER KIND? EH LADS? EH??)’s moods…lol…naw, woman and minorities are great. No, but…you get the idea.
Be grateful, you smelly orifice . Smile that goofy smile of yours. What you’re doing? It counts. It helps. It adds up. Every little bit. Every cell. Every molecule. Every photon. Counts. So keep adding. Keep helping.
You want a whole pizza. But you only seem to be getting it one slice, no, one bite, at a time. I feel your pain.
But how big is your mouth anyway?
Inside your own mind, be like a guy talking to other guys about his exploits with the ladies. If you made eye contact, you spat game at her. If you brushed hands, you made out. If you made out, you did it. If you did it, you did it 10 times…That’s a sucky example. But you get it, right? After all, how much dirt does it take to make a white shirt dirty? Not much, right? You can have a 99.9% surface area clean white shirt…but one stain and we say that that shirt is stained. Well, as soon as you stain the white shirt of reality with a bit of progress, you’re winning. Already.
It counts. It works. Let it count. Work it. Count it (mentally, if nothing else).
Don’t let’s turn this into a Scott Tenorman thing with your parents…
- Imagine how painful it would be if the human gestation period were 9 seconds rather than 9 months. I mean, the violence! Not to mention feeding requirements, I mean…it just doesn’t work. ↩
- Robert Kiyosaki, deca-millionaire, talks about feeling like a street urchin next to Donald Trump, and perplexed by the latter’s interest in him. ↩