You’re learning Japanese? Really? Oh… are you sure that’s a good idea? Wouldn’t you rather learn or do (insert anything more reasonable than learning Japanese). Have you heard this yet? If you haven’t, I promise you that you will. Multiple times… from an absolute stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, or even a close family member.
Someone is going to question what in the world you are doing. While you are in the midst of one of the hardest challenges of your life, this is the last thing you want to hear.
To other people, Japanese isn’t considered the most valuable choice of time. This is due to perspectives about Japan, the culture, the perceived economic/personal value of the language, false ideas about its impossible difficulty, and then comparing it with what else you should/could be doing with your time. This causes people to stay stupid things about what you chose to do.
So what? It matters because the motivation to continue to propel yourself down the road of studying Japanese is shaky at best. You will be tested every single step of the way, repeatedly and relentlessly. You have to pull that motivation to continue both from within and outside of you. You will question yourself constantly whether you are making the right choice, and whether you actually have the ability to do it.
What you don’t need on top of all of this is other people doing the questioning for you as well, to your face, over and over again.
If you care what other people think about your reason to study Japanese, you’ve lost
Your reason to study Japanese should be anything you can possibly set your mind to. Whatever anyone thinks about that reason is irrelevant, and any second spent thinking about what someone else says is a second wasted. Unless your reason to study Japanese is to hurt someone else, or hurt yourself, your reason can and should be anything. That reason becomes the best reason ever.
Your reason can be shallow. It can be silly. It can be stupid. It can be for pure fun. Studying Japanese solely for manga and anime? Cool. Studying because you think Japanese girls are cute? Great. Does your world revolve around boys-love manga? Awesome. Do you have a figurine collection that would put Densha Otoko’s collection to shame? Be proud. Do you have an obsession with temples, with a goal to visit all 75,000+ of them in Japan? Travel with a smile. Does collecting samurai armor bring you ecstasy? Enjoy it.
That’s you. Do your reason. Ignore all the other noise.
Anyone who tells you that your reason for studying isn’t useful, or sensible, or good enough, isn’t worth listening to. The same goes for other Japanese learners who will tell you why your reason isn’t noble enough compared to their reason. I’ve heard everything. You need a smarter, more economic, more traditionally acceptable reason. If you are going to study Japanese it should be for some reason that makes the average person say “wow what a gentleman! What a scholar!” Sure… maybe if it was 1899.
I want you to study for any reason. I want you to study 100% with whatever fuels you. That is awesome. That is the win.
Ever been told why you shouldn’t study Japanese or why your reason isn’t good enough?
In the comments section, share your story. What noise have you heard along the way?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.