An Overdose of Japanese Learning Positivity — 19 Comments

  1. Really really insightful read that explained what I went through in my 6 month break from Japanese. I finally realized why I stopped and it is because I couldn’t achieve the goals I wanted to while everyone else was successful and living the Japanese life. I think this break helped me to readjust and this article reassured me. Thankfully it was just a break not something more.

    • I’m glad it helped, and I’m happy you are back. Be careful not to repeat the same comparison mistakes. Focus more on yourself, and things will be better this time around.

    • Glad you made it through a 6 month break! Not sure if this happened to you but when I come back from breaks I always feel like I have a stronger understanding of the material even though I haven’t touched it lol.

      • Yeah I feel like your brain maybe had a break from so much Japanese that it had time to sort out and organize all the Japanese you learned. Like right now I still have an okay comprehension level and my grammar is fine even though I’ve been gone for 6 months and forgot a lot of words

    • You shouldn’t stop saving for a Lamborghini (if it is indeed something hypothetical you wants) because the only thing you have to worry about is whether or not you have the discipline not to spend the money you saved. So long as you save for long enough and have the capacity to continue saving, you WILL reach your goal. It is not hard to see that this is the case. It is really easy to see that your work will pay off.

      Saving for a Lamborghini is not the same thing as trying to do something that is really difficult to do. Sometimes there is doubt involved in whether or not a person is capable of learning a skill, in this case, of learning a difficult language. This doubt can prevent someone from believing they can even get anywhere. And when their experience seems to confirm their doubt, it gets really discouraging. When they see that someone is else able to do something they are having such a hard time doing, shame begins to set in. One starts to feel ashamed that they are not as capable.

      By asking the pointed question “Why should I stop saving up for a lamborghini just because someone else already has one?” you are saying that no one should feel ashamed that they are having a hard time learning something because someone else isn’t having a hard time learning the same thing. However shame is inevitable when the realization comes that you aren’t doing as good as someone else. This shame cannot just be shrugged off. It has to be confronted.

      Now you may say, “Why compare myself to others?” So, basically, you are saying anyone who does compare themselves to another person is doing something wrong. This may be true, but sometimes, we need encouragement, and seeing that someone else can do something makes us feel like we can do something too. That comparison doesn’t come in until we start to doubt that we TOO can do it.

      When we doubt ourselves, we start to ask, “What makes us different than the other person? Why are they able to do it and I am not?” This is where the shame comes in. Again, learning a language is not the same thing as saving up for a physical good.

  2. Most of the time I love reading success stories. They give me this cozy feeling and I can dream of the future that awaits me. But there are definitely moments were the “dark side” shows as well… “Why can he do that and I can’t?” It usually ends with me being pretty unhappy with myself. Granted if I can draw motivation out of that to change the situation that might even be worth it for a while. But if it results in me being unhappy for a longer time, it’s time for the emergency break.

    For another hobby of mine I was active in an online community for a few years. In the beginning it motivated me quite a bit, but after a while I started to compare myself to others way too much. “Measuring progress” also became a thing, even though there were some inherent problems with that. But I wasn’t doing particularly well on that arbitrary number game either (such a loser, right?) and it got me down even more. The community was actually pretty nice and everyone tried to encourage each other but… there was just a point where I couldn’t bear it any more. It started to annoy me SO MUCH. “Just keep at it!” “Look at how far you’ve come” yeah yeah, I get it, whatever. And then I just took a break and shut myself off. I felt like a loser for a while, but it took a huge burden off my shoulders. And then it just became “okay to give up”. Sounds depressing, but it was alright actually. Surprisingly (or maybe not?) by now I’m actually back at it. Turns out, I still like my old little hobby. I still suck and sometimes get depressed about it, but as I don’t see what others are doing all the time it’s not keeping me from enjoying what I do anymore as often ;) I sometimes even sneak a peak in the community forums, but bad habits die hard and I start to compare myself again, so I try to keep myself from doing that all too much.

    • Yeah, I’ve experienced this in other things as well. You can also feel that dark side when you watch too many motivational videos on YouTube on whatever you are trying to pursue.

  3. when I read about guys like Khatz and others who have followed in his footsteps, I can’t help but expect that I should be able to get to a similar level within 2 years.

    I know I am setting myself up for disappointment but having that deadline helps motivate me to keep going.

    • It’s a two edged-sword. Deadlines are great to motivate you, but when you don’t meet an “unrealistic for you” deadline, it’s a challenge to remain strong.

  4. This strikes home for me pretty strongly. I’m just recently picking myself out of a slump that started around the time I started participating more in communities full of this positivity. People meeting goals that, honestly, I just can’t do. Hearing people blazing through cards at 50 is fine, it’s great, it’s inspirational. Then you do it for a month and when you can’t keep up, it’s incredibly frustrating because hey, they did it, didn’t they?

    I’ve reset myself all the way to JALUP Intermediate and am going through J-J on NEXT now, because I honestly felt that my grasp of everything through the end of Expert was weak at best. I’m going at 10 cards a day and just trying to listen to podcasts and play games from my childhood in Japanese, and I’m enjoying it a lot more. I think I had a lot of personal pressure I was laying on myself because I started studying in college 8 years ago, but if I’m being honest with myself there is so much “blank space” devoid of honest studying in those years that the number becomes meaningless.

    I’ll go ahead and cut the rambling here. Thanks for everything you do here, Adam. I still look forward to articles here, and I’m loving NEXT. Keep it up!

    • I know where you’re coming from. For February I tried to do one of the monthly goals that Adam always posts. I thought “hmm, I’ve never done it, why not give it a try, everyone else always seems to have a good time with it.” So I set a goal, but then when I started to realize that I wasn’t going to meet my goal I just slowly stopped studying altogether for a few days, and then the reviews started piling way up and made me not want to study even more. I’ve come back from that and gone back into my usual study methods which seem to be best for me at this point.

    • It was something I started noticing both here with an increasing number of users on Jalup and in my own personal life (on another endeavor). So I felt it was time to talk about it.

  5. Good article. I enjoyed the monthly goals here for a while, but I found I was getting depressed by missing my own when others were achieving far more ambitious things. So I just decided to go back to low pressure studying. I have a target I want to reach every day. But if it doesn’t happen, I just let it go and treat tomorrow afresh.
    Ironically I think I’m progressing better now and I’m enjoying myself more.
    Periods of pressure are good, but periods of recovery are also good.

    • I feel what you are saying here. Sometime I need to recoup before getting ambitious again. I have been going slower with my Japanese studies too so that I don’t get overwhelmed. But when school break happens I tend to pick up the pace until it gets to be a little trying and then slow down again.

  6. This is a great reminder that each of us will make our unique Japanese journey (and journey through life). What helps me the most is having pretty modest expectations and not rushing myself. I’m having so much fun doing Jalup Next because I focus on the daily fun, with no thought for the future.

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