In my last post I mentioned the fact that the last year has seen a lot of difficulties for me. But I don't count it as an entirely bad experience. In fact, in a lot of ways, I count it as a rather good year.

Often we have it too good — our lives are too easy, and we lose appreciation for what we have — but if there's one thing that's been a constant for me recently, it's the lesson that we need the difficult times. We need them not only to help us to appreciate the good times (which is important) but we also need those hardships to give us some perspective when things aren't always going how we want them to go.

Sometimes, it's easy to become engrossed in a task or a project, and to feel each challenge as a major setback. And sometimes, we need life to kick us in the ass, like with a death in the family, or with some relationship problem, or with trouble in the workplace to remind us that the little setbacks we had with our projects aren't as terrible as we thought they were.

It's easy to complain that a language goal isn't being met. It's easy to think we're wasting our time. It's easy to allow ourselves to feel defeated...

But then in the stretch of just a few months you see four people you know die off ... and suddenly you find a new appreciation for the fact that you're still here, and you've still got a fighting chance. No matter what else this life takes away from you, as long as you're still here you have an opportunity to succeed — at whatever it is you choose to do.

If there's one lesson I've learned in the past year, it's that our hardships give us strength. The tough times make the less tough times easier. When running a mile is hard, running a marathon will make that mile feel easy. When writing a blog is hard, writing a book will make the blog post easy. And when a 50-foot bungee jump scares you, sometimes you need to look down from a 1000-foot cliff to remind you how trivial the lesser height really is.

Learning a new language is tough. Not as tough as some other things you've already done, but it's still work. There's no easy "language gene". There's no magic pill. Nobody is simply born with a talent for languages.

Sometimes you just need to put it into perspective. Sometimes you need to remind yourself of the far-more-difficult things you've already done. If you can learn to walk, learn to talk, learn to read... then of course you can learn a second language.

And failure? Please. That's just a thing that happens. If you're not growing from your failures, you're just wasting them.

So what's setting you back? What are your excuses?

 

 

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