Whenever I feel inspired, I like to have what I call an Aperitivo Chat on the blog. It’s a chance to have a meaningful conversation about things that matter over food & drink. I invite you to pull up a chair with your favorite drink & snack, and let’s chat. 😉 I’m currently enjoying a glass of Chianti. Cin Cin!
I’d like to share my recent A-HA moment about what has been stopping me from making progress with speaking Italian as fast as I’d like. In fact, it’s the same thing that has been keeping me from achieving other life dreams (ahem, blogging consistently).
I thought it was perfectionism, disguised as fear.
Who or what am I afraid of? Not a single person has ever criticized me or made fun of my Italian (aside from Alberto poking fun of my “accento Americano“), but he’s allowed to do that. :p
I came upon the realization that the thing stopping me was much more insidious: my own negative thoughts of not being “good enough.”
And well, it’s easier to do nothing then face a verbal bashing from the impossible-to-please inner critic…because when does good enough ever become good enough?
In a nutshell, this is what happens when you’re trapped in the clutch of perfectionism, the simultaneous torture & safety of not putting yourself out there:
“I am scared of not being seen. Still, I don’t want anyone to see me.” Frances Ivy
Last week Dutch Polyglot Kamila Tekin and I recently held an Instagram live about overcoming perfectionism and insecurities in language learning. Since then, I’ve been doing a little more reflecting on this topic.
Even though I am aware of my self-criticism and working to overcome it, I realized this weekend just how much I STILL let my own inner critic stop me from speaking Italian. Well, my inner critic doesn’t always stop me from speaking, but it shames the heck out of me when I do. I caught myself in an inner shame storm this weekend when I didn’t have the words in Italian to talk intelligently about the recent high school shootings in the US (on top of the shame I already feel about my country’s social issues).
It’s really important for me as a language learner/teacher to share the realities of learning a language, including all the struggles & triumphs, in order to better understand the complex process of learning a foreign language as an adult. There’s so much more that goes into learning a language than syntax and phonemes. The “affective filter” rules it all, and that’s why I’m sharing these thoughts with you. Sharing my insecurities makes them less oppressive and controlling. I get perspective outside of my head, and I can finally let them go.
The truth is, why do I expect myself to be perfect when the people I find most endearing are genuine, not perfect? Furthermore, I would never treat one of my students how I treat myself while learning Italian.
When I need to feel empowered I turn to Pinterest and pin inspirational quotes like mad (anyone else??) and these are two of my favorites:
“Be so completely yourself that everyone else feels safe to be themselves too” – Pinterest Quote
“Remember/your words/can plant gardens/or burn/whole forests down” – Gemma Troy
And here is my own inspirational quote that I came up with as my new mantra for myself as I work towards my goals:Always remember, you ARE good enough, even while striving to be and do more. #progressnotperfection Click To Tweet
As Gary Vee says, “if you don’t enjoy the journey, then you’ve already failed.
I wish I could go back and not just tell myself this, but feel this truth, especially back in 2014 when I first started this blog. Today, I went through my 120+ (?!) blog post drafts, I realized just how much I had let perfectionism (aka fear of not being “good enough”) control not just my language learning, but also my life dreams. I has so many posts that I had never published. Why? Because I didn’t think they were “good enough” to be seen.
I still worry that my blog doesn’t look like the vision in my head, and my Italian doesn’t sound like I want it to.
But I’m letting myself be seen. Hello! 🙂
P.S. In attempts to be a more “professional” and consistent blogger, I put all my posts into an editorial calendar today….and little did I know, the DRAFT of this post originally got published AND my posts automatically get sent to Twitter. But you know what? I have no shame. I think it’s hilarious. And two blessed souls commented on my draft post. And didn’t think I was mentally impaired. Or maybe I could have just had too much wine?
There are so many kind people out there (thank you to those who uplift & support other language learners & bloggers)!!!!
Now let’s all be kind to ourselves and enjoy the journey.
P.P.S. I also found something deep in the archives of the “things I dared not share,” and I am so excited to share it with you very soon! Hint: it’s all about food + Italian. 😉
La Dolce Vita through from California to Italy. I’m Kelly, an American girl with Italian taste in food & wine. I blog about learning Italian, food & wine pairings, how to find authentic Italian ingredients in the US, and seasonal recipes from scratch.