You Gain More From The Storm Than Smooth Sailing

Things going smoothly? Want them to go smoothly from beginning to end? You don’t want a single battle story, and will settle just for a nice calm sea? Bring on the heavy waves. Bring on the storm. Bring on the Kraken. Why? Because it’s going to make you a much better sailor.

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As long as the rough sea doesn’t capsize your boat and leave you to be eaten by monsters of the sea, you are going to learn a lot. Smooth sailing teaches you how to sail on smooth waters. On smooth waters, everything goes well. You probably only need one person steering the ship. You can sit back and get a tan. You don’t need to check your radar, your maps, or your crew. Okay, I know nothing about sailing, but this is how I imagine it.

When you are on smooth waters, no matter what you do, your ship is going to move forward. It won’t suddenly sink. You can’t lose. You aren’t putting in the sailing effort because it isn’t needed. Because that effort isn’t needed, you aren’t developing the ability to summon that effort at a moment’s notice. When you’ve been sailing smooth for months and you have your first major storm, you don’t know what to do.

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Welcome to the Japanese storm.

I guarantee you that after every storm, you will have gained more than anything you accomplished while simply sailing without a worry in the world.

1. Brave the immersion storm, and you’ll be able to enjoy native media from now on. You’ll know what you can watch, how you can enjoy it, and how big a deal it means to you.

2. Brave the J-J storm, and you’ll acquire a better grasp of the way the Japanese language flows, how to use a J-J dictionary, and how you truly are understanding what Japanese means in Japanese.

3. Brave the English-subtitle-removing-storm, and you’ll never have to use an interfering handicap again, as you watch Japanese material as it was meant to be watched.

You will have many storms ahead. Don’t try to avoid them to find clearer waters. Running away from the inevitable is not going to save you. Let every language storm force you to become better.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


You Gain More From The Storm Than Smooth Sailing — 10 Comments

  1. Such an awesome analogy. The timing of this article couldn’t have been better. Today I decided to start reading a kanji-only manga ヨコハマ買い出し紀行, it’s my first time reading without furigana and you know what, it isn’t as scary as I imagined, I mean it’s still a ‘storm’ as I find it really challenging but it’s not harsh enough to sink my ship. I’ve been only studying for ~2 months (I’ve also studied for a 50hours or so last summer) but I know just enough to get through it with a dictionary. Feels awesome to read something intended for native adults. I’m currently averaging ~2 new words/page, but I hope I can get it to 1 new word/5 pages after 14 volumes of intensive reading. The reason I jumped into this storm is because manga/anime is pretty much my main current goal so I thought why wait months until the storm calms down if I can go in now, even though it’s way harder than let’s say studying vocab, I find it way more rewarding.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. It’s those moments of intense struggle (braving the storm) where we learn the most.

  3. Couldn’t have said it any better. This advice is extremely helpful, not only when it comes to learning Japanese, but with anything in general. I find braving the J-J storm to be quite fun by the way.

    • As long as you approach it the right way, it can be a lot of fun. Without the challenge, there is no game.

  4. I’ve been getting too comfortable recently with doing WaniKani and Textfugu. I reached out to a Japanese friend to start weekly conversations via Skype. Very nervous, as I am self-conscious about speaking. So this is the storm I need to face now.

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