They say life is like a rollercoaster.
I see what they mean, but I never related much to this metaphor.
I don’t know about you, but my life has a lot more consistent moments, challenging moments, decision-making moments, grind-it-out-and-just-get-it-done moments. There’s not too many moments I feel like screaming my head off and hurling my lunch all within the same ten wild seconds.
But language learning… now that’s a roller coaster.
The exhilaration, the thrill, when someone rambles off a blurry sentence in Spanish that directly relates to you buying your groceries.
The ups and downs… all in one day. The same day I fluently conjugate a string of verbs and pronounce them (to my ear) perfectly to my Ecuadorian co-worker… is the same day that I accidentally can’t remember how to say “hello” and tell her that I went down the river in a little “boot.”
Side note: That for real happened. I was trying to describe a white-water rafting experience, and I said that I went down the river in a “bota…” turns out “bota” is a boot. So I kept telling her I floated down the river in a little boot.
My skills improve, then they tank, sometimes I feel so upside down and turned around and jolted to a stop. When I look at the progress, sometimes I’ve gone in reverse.
The joy, the terror, the confusion, the unexpected twists and turns and churns and wind-blown hair that looks like an explosion occurred right before you.
Yet eventually… you notice you’re getting somewhere. And you laugh remembering the ride you’ve come on.
The thing I’m finding, however, is you’ve just gotta jump on. You’re not gonna get anywhere by being cautious.
Just like rollercoasters aren’t for the faint in heart, neither is language immersion. They call it immersion for a reason – you gotta dive in, embrace the challenge and thrill and look a little crazy to get somewhere.
But you know, the ride is worth it.