I want to know if you can live with failure,
yours and mine,
And still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
– The Invitation
To learn we must be willing to make mistakes, but learning from the mistake is where the lesson lies. For me, being a fan of instant results/gratification/reward , I generally only like to learn things that I can learn quickly and effectively and be instantly good at.
Many of us struggle with the inner perfectionist, which for me is unrealistic and destructive -mainly because nothing I do is perfect. I am good at many things, but I am not ‘the best’ at anything – so striving for perfection -having the abstract approach that I do – is the fast track to failure.
The fear of failure is what has stopped me from even starting….many things…. in the past. Acting, for example, was and is my ultimate dream and I attempted to persue it. But the rejection of months of unsuccessful auditions killed me. I shut down to that world. I switched off. Redirecting myself into something else I could be good at…. And now, as a teacher of English as a second language to adults, I suddenly realise why I never learnt Italian growing up. Because in learning a new language, mistakes (a massacre of mistakes) is bound to happen.
Ironically, as a teacher I call my classroom “a place to make mistakes together”, that is perhaps why I am a good teacher, because I know how hard it is. Trying, failing, correcting, trying again,…
Attempting to learn my new second language has put me into the overwhelmed and frustrated space I have seen many of my students in. And I think it’s even worse that I have a nac for communicating and expressing myself very well in my mother tongue to start with, because I feel so damn stupid struggling in Italian.
I have already thought of other methods like hypnotherapy and “subconscious sleep learning” to make me learn more effectively and faster, without having to make constant mistakes out loud and sound ridiculous.
I give up too easily: It’s the story of my life.
But while reading ‘The invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, a book that expands on the ideas of the well-known poem, I realize I am a great teacher, but a lousy student.
… until today!
Today my promise to myself on my “twenty-something-th” birthday is to say ‘YES’ to mistakes, to say ‘YES’ to learning and embracing this beautiful language, to make it my own.
Over the last year I have opened my mind to saying ‘YES’ to opportunities and it has landed me slap-bang in the middle of Milano, for my birthday, as wished for…
I just realized something that has plastered the biggest grin on my face. I am in Italy, which is special in itself. I touched-down yesterday and after wrestling with my useless Italian grammar I finally made my way from the aiport to the doorstep of my new home for next few months.
I spent this morning walking the streets, and of course I got stuck in a little bit of rain (how appropriate). Some keen men offered to give me (or sell me) their umbrellas but with the language gap, I still don’t know if the Italian men are ridiculously kind or just have a good eye for a business opportunity. Regardless, I declined their offers. I couldn’t do it. The rain was symbolic and although I didn’t break out into a dance in the rain, I did a little pirouette – on the inside.