Learning Spanish has been a juggernaut. I HAVE improved dramatically since last month so that is all that matters. It is a weird experience. There are SO many moments where you can’t understand or talk a lick to anyone about anything. You get in your head about what the fuck you’re doing and it can be very uncomfortable. Then, perhaps, you have a drink or two and then find yourself in a conversation! Which by the way, alcohol is most certainly the magic potion for social relaxing into interaction. I’ve never realized it so much before. Anyway, being in a sudden conversation in a foreign language you’re learning is so dramatic and you’re actually talking with the words you know and sort of understanding a word here and there to actually reply back with something resembling a conversation. It’s weird to know what people are talking about but to not be understanding all the words. The feeling is a bit like being in a loud bar where you can only hear a few words of what the person is saying and you do your best to respond back to that person based on those few words. I scramble with verb conjugations or wondering mid speaking if I’m using the right word. A particularly confusing conversation I had with someone was someone asking me if I liked churros. I responded with an emphatic, yes!, and how I was ten when I had my first churro and any day of the week I’m down for churros, etc. etc. Well churro actually meant “joint” and at one point I heard the verb “fumar” used which means “to smoke” and I was like, “what a minute, are we talking about the sweet deserts that you can eat?” It brought about a good laugh. I mean I do like myself a good joint but not in a way where I would be obsessing over it like the delicious desert.
The learning language barrier really makes you feel naked. Vulnerable in a way, that you’re a cast aside child in a room. Being the youngest in my family and being the youngest cousin in my extended family of like 15 cousins at family parties, I grew up with that feeling of constantly never being paid attention to in conversation until I was about in my early twenties when people started to realize I was a real person. You’d think I’d have practice with all of this but the familiar feelings still make me cringe with inner pain when I can’t express, when I can’t participate in conversation, when I can’t contribute, when I can’t flow with another person and ask all sorts of questions, etc. Perhaps it has actually been good for me, though, as it’s making me be a bit more relaxed with just being patient and not being able to do anything about my current situation. I’m probably much better at the language than I give myself credit for, but I’m also in my head as well, hence why alcohol makes things a bit easier. Over the last 30 days I have really had to breath myself into relaxation with it all. I mean what else would I be doing anyways; having conversations that I really wasn’t into and speaking just because I could? Which brings up a whole other thing.
Being able to speak in Spanish brings about a certain excitement. You string together some sentences and that in itself makes your day. Learning Spanish has made me realize my English speaking patterns. I am an extroverted person, yes, but not in the way where I totally am always expanding from conversation and interaction. Overall, it does drain me and I need to recharge often by being alone. When speaking a lot in English, I usually look for outs to be done talking or to move on, or just frankly am bored of hearing myself speak or hearing others talk. At this point, language and words can easily turn into white noise for me and I can easily fail to pay attention and stay engaged. At other times, I can often fall into a trap of not thinking before I speak, as in our culture it tends to be awkward to have silence, so one always fills the void. In these ways, social interactions drain me. Over the past years, I have liked less and less hearing my own voice and participating in this constant nonstop talking social norm. I value a lot more people who I can feel comfortable being in silence with or people who just bring about a relaxed presence. I crave stillness, meditation like energy, and calm more than I used to. Not that I’m not an exciting person but I just don’t think that words in ways of being noise, is the only things we should rely on. Rather, the sound incorporated in the meaning of language, and words that are thought out would probably produce less talking overall. And overall, there are other things to rely on than our ability to constantly nervous talk because we don’t want silence, or the desire of many of us to be dominating or competitive to fill the space with noise. Usually this leads to people just talking about themselves and not listening to others and, really, in most instances it’s like the person is just LOVING hearing themselves talk and in conversation with themselves. This era of my life where I’m seeing this more and how words just fill of space for me is exhausting to participate in and be around. You can’t really tell people to shut up and people will think your weird if you don’t talk. Well I guess the point here is to not hang out with such people but it’s hard because it’s not something a lot of people tend to grasp, but it has led me to be way more selective in who I spend my time with.
Relating to Spanish, my reaction to speak less in English can negatively affecting my learning process to try and speak as much as I can in Spanish. I’m having to re-train myself for when I start talking to someone in Spanish to not just say a few things and then move on, but rather, try and ask and say as many things as possible! Ha! Now I’m that person blabbing away, and not only blabbing away but speaking in crazy broken language and not really understanding what is being said back to me. Can you see why this is such a humbling experience? I’m having to push through my own annoyance level of what I don’t like in terms of language and talking and having to actually embody those elements in order to learn. This is why I’ve failed at language acquisition before as I couldn’t pull myself to go there. I would always end up being insanely annoyed at myself. That and I can really be shy when it comes down to it. Sensitive to the fact that I’m being a pain on people or sensitive to reading too much into conversations with negative body language or mentally self-shaming and shying away. But now, I’m like blah blah blah, I’m Ryan and I’m trying to learn! Please help me! Haha! Overall, the whole process is confidence building in being forced that if I’m going to learn I need to throw myself out there. Perhaps when I was younger with being the youngest in my family I embodied that I was always being annoying to people while talking. Nobody really wanted to talk to me. I had to speak fast and with intention to keep up with everyone who was older. I remember this feeling in high school as well with teachers constantly being impatient with me. From all this, I must have emobodied a communication style of patience and constantly allowing people outs as I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable talking to me. I assumed that they wanted out. Over time, this made me communicate as such and me wanting out of conversations as well. Eventually, I started communicating in ways that I initially didn’t like when I was younger. Perhaps it all just goes to show that we become socialized in behavior with whatever we are exposed to. We are creatures that mirror whatever is in front of us, especially at developmental ages. It’s so weird! Now that I’m taking on Spanish, I’m committing to being uncomfortable and pushing myself through this conditioning that I went through so long ago and really wasn’t even too aware of that existed currently in my life. Being a child again in language has brought this all back on. It’s doing positive things for me that go way beyond just language acquisition. And now that I’m traveling on my own, it’s really testing me and my ability to really take hold of my life and foster self-love and appreciation for what I’m taking on and learning and improving upon in my life. I don’t have to continue being how I’ve always been. Nobody said making positive changes in your life was easy. You got to know what will most likely make you expand and commit to things and re-patternize your brain to accept and foster them until they become habit and simply a part of you. Becoming a you, you want must entail facing the you, you currently are and going from there.