When you're learning a new language, it can be very frustrating. In the beginning, the first thing you become aware of isn't how fun it is, or how much potential there is... The first thing you become aware of when learning a new language is exactly how much you can not do.
Sure, you know how to say "hello", or ask someone their name, but when you want to share an opinion, or ask an important question, your mind goes over every bit of vocabulary you know, looking for a way to express the though, and often ends in frustration with the realization of, "great, there's another thing I don't know."
It's a lot like learning to walk again. You already know how to walk — you've done it your whole life. Now imagine that was suddenly taken away from you, and you had to learn to walk all over again. It's easy to see why people give up on their language studies!
As I was thinking about this, it reminded me of Jamie Gillentine. I read about Jamie Gillentine a few years ago on a weight training web site:
In August 2007 Jamie Gillentine dove head first into the ocean. But he didn’t know it was a sand bar. Jamie Gillentine shattered his 6th cervical vertebrae. Spinal fragments were lodged in his spinal cord.
Jamie Gillentine lost all feeling and movement from his upper-chest down to his legs. He had some arm movement but no hand dexterity.
In my mind, these are the things that make you strong as a person. They give you character and value. Completing something long and difficult, without giving up, helps you to appreciate the simple things, and it earns you the respect of others.
Fortunately, most of us will never have to re-learn how to walk. And hopefully, most of us will never have to overcome such a serious injury. But we all have the potential to do difficult things and complete these long, hard journeys. Whether it's losing weight, or paying off a huge debt, or learning a foreign language.
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.