- Momentum Over Position: How the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Can Help You Learn Faster
- 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
- 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
- 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
So, I have three older sisters, which means that I grew up in a house full of women. Why does Khatz act like a girl doing an impression of a guy? Now you know.
The youngest of my sisters, my little big sister (Oliver Twister!), hates tepid tea. On her personal 1~10 scale of injustice, tepid tea is at 11 with the Holocaust earning a respectable 9, right behind bad punctuation.
Whether or not you share my little big sister’s idiosyncratic sense of hate priorities (to her credit, maybe she feels so strongly about tepid tea because it’s such a tractable, avoidable, solvable-by-one-person problem), you know that tepid tea is just…wrong. Cartman wrong. Wroang!
So, as I write this, I’m staying at a hotel in an undisclosed country, collecting information and recordings for future secret AJATT projects (don’t worry, plenty of hookers and blow) and it was bed time, so I ordered room service: piping hot milk and some chocolate chip cookies off the children’s menu. Screw you; I’m grown-up enough to not need to act like a grown-up!
Anyway, the milk came and it was decidedly, stridently, gay pride parade-level flamboyantly…tepid.
(I’d get angry, but one doesn’t simply yell at the people who handle one’s food behind closed doors. That, and, the room service lady on the phone had a really sexy Russian accent: “but this is only meelk we hev; oh, you are vanting it hot, yes? Vill thet be all, ser?”
Yes. Yes, I am vanting it hot).
And that, I imagine, is what it can and does feel like to be at intermediate level sometimes: it feels worse than when you were an ice-cold noob. It feels worse than knowing nothing, perhaps because the fruit of the tree of knowledge has shown you the extent of your ignorance 1. Inasmuch as the size of the circle of your knowledge has increased, so the circumference of that circle, which represents the edge of your knowledge and thus the ignorance of which you are self-aware, has also increased. In fact, the circumference of ignorance expands in size faster than (but in proportion to) the size of your circle of knowledge.
In other words, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. Your knowledge has made you humble. Too humble. What is it that that Frenchman said? At first we hope too much, then too little? It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect. And it makes you feel like, well, tepid tea.
The key is not to give in to this feeling. Just because you feel tepid, doesn’t mean that you are. OK, no, I mean…yeah, in a way you are tepid; you are; you’re not boiling, but you’re hotter than you’ve ever been before and it’s important that you recognize, accept and congratulate yourself for that. You are literally at the very top of your game thus far. How do I know? Well, because tepid tea is hotter than ice tea! You have never been this hot before. It’s an awkward temperature, to be sure, but that’s fine: you outgrow it by adding heat, not giving up.
Realize how much of a noob you used to be and how far you’ve come. You probably said things like “kanjis” and called it “the Japanese alphabet”. Realize how much you know. It almost seems like you where better when you were ice tea — a noob — but that’s an illusion. You feel subjectively worse, but you are objectively better. So keep on moving.