Me, as a 20 year old girl ready to take on Japan without fear.
I’ve been having problems with my confidence recently. People who know me will see me as outgoing and someone who is everywhere at once, doing all the meetups and friends with everyone. But I used to be so much more. I think there’s a better word for it, but I used to be brave when I was younger. I used to do a lot of drama, I loved to be on stage and when I went to Japan to study I didn’t care if my Japanese was good or not, I just used it.
But I have found that I’m not that person anymore, I seem to have lost that side of me. My German friends constantly ask me to speak in German with them… I guess I could and it would be ok but there’s an element of “losing face” involved that’s just too risky… or scary for me. Every German I know speaks amazing English. It would just be embarrassing to let them see just how little German I speak. And also when we speak in English we can have amazing conversations but if we spoke in German we’d be reduced to boring, simple stuff. But I can’t ever remember feeling this way with Japanese. Maybe it’s because I was a cocky little shit, but this time round I just can’t get the German out, even though I know my friends won’t judge me and I know it’ll only make my German better.
I finished the advanced improv course a few weeks ago and I noticed in that area too I’d become a lot more withdrawn. I love improv – I love being on stage. When I was younger I used to do SO much theatre; regular stuff, improv contests, I was a dame in the village panto (meaning I was 16 year old girl pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman…) and I even entered a solo theatre contest in a division 2 years older than my age (and still won). I was this girl, but now I am not, and I think it’s holding me back.
When you’re an expat or just a regular language learner, I think you need to be super outgoing to be able to get the most out of your life in your adoptive country. Langauge-wise it’s pretty straight forward – you need to be brave enough to just go for it and you’ll get the hang of the language. As an expat it’s best if you just throw yourself into various situations and go to random meetups because you never know what will happen. Of course, it’s also ok to not be outgoing and an expat, but you won’t have as many crazy stories to tell your grandchildren
I guess this lack of bravery has been bugging me for a while. I guess various things happened and I lost the drive I used to have to be like this, but I’m taking steps to get it back. Improv helps me a lot, but I’m *thinking* of maybe dabbling in stand-up comedy. A comedian friend of mine who I admire very much came over the other week so I could road test my routine on him but I just clammed up. I’d like to work myself to the stage where I’m able to do this – even if I’m not funny I think the experience will be good for me.
During the first week of April I’m going to do a German homestay. It’ll be in Frankfurt so I’m not going far at all, but I’m actually really nervous about it. I have no idea where the 16 year old who went off to Japan to do homestays is, but she’s not here right now. I feel nervous about speaking German to someone other than the few people I share my terrible skills with and I feel nervous that it’ll be a whole week of me and the teacher – her teaching me in intensive lessons during the day and cooking and hanging out together in the evenings. This all seems very daunting to me.
But I think once I’ve taken these steps I’ll feel a lot better about myself, so I need to take them. Do you take steps to put yourself in different and daunting situations?