You want to be the best? Great. Your first step should be to find someone better than you. Your next step is to become friends with and hang around them. If you are the best among your circle of Japanese learner friends you need to expand that circle until you can find someone higher.
Why do you need someone who surpasses you?
Nothing slows your pace down more than being overconfident and thinking that you are real good. If everyone around you is lower than you, it makes you feel higher than you really are.
Have something to aim for
Sometimes you don’t really know where to go with your studying. You feel like you’ve plateaued or have gotten good enough. Having someone around you can show how much further you can go and how much more you can achieve. They can be an amazing source of motivation.
Learn from them
People who are higher levels got to where they are for a reason. They know what they are doing. They know how to study. And their Japanese is good. Ask them questions, watch and figure out what they did right and try it yourself.
Ask for advice
People who have been in your shoes often like to help you out. They know your pain, your struggles, and everything you’ve been through. They most likely will be willing to help you out so you can avoid some of the same.
Competition breeds greatness. The best competition comes from someone who is just a little better than you. It means you have to rise to their level to be able to compete. They unintentionally bring you up if you let them.
There is a limit
It’s always good to find someone better than you regardless of your level. While it becomes harder the higher you go, you can always find someone and the benefits will remain the same. I still do this, and it has kept me moving forward. However the benefits of your higher level pal become limited depending on the gap between both of your levels.
You: level 5
Friend: Level 15
You: level 25
Friend: level 45
You: level 10
Friend: level 60
The problem with such a large gap is that it can discourage you. If that person feels so out of reach, you may feel like you’ll never get there. They are too good. They are too far off in the distance and much harder to relate. It almost feels like you are comparing yourself with a native.
There is nothing wrong with being friends with someone who causes this gap, but make sure you are around other people who are somewhat closer to your level as well.
Go out and look up
Everyone needs someone higher level them to be around. Have you found your person yet?