Hello all, I cannot believe Evangeline and I have been in France for nearly 6 months, time is flying SO incredibly fast. Too fast I feel.
First I want to address the fact that a few posts back, I posted in French. First, that was not my intention at all. I have a French computer with French settings so it tends to translate everything to French. If I am not careful when writing blogs or posts on Facebook, my computer settings will translate it (through google translate) to French as a default and I have to physically push a little button to get it back to its original language. So when I wrote that post, it was in English but because I switched screens or waited a day or say with the screen open, it kept the post in French. Though I can write in French to a degree, that post was riddled with plenty of grammar errors and was an all-around mess. GOOGLE CANNOT be trusted with the full translation of any text. I didn’t realize this had even happened until two different people told me. Sorry for the confusion and sorry more so for the misleading that the blog may have caused. It does not at all represent my actual french writing abilities in the least.
Okay, onto the real topic of today. Confidence.
As someone who has always struggled with confidence and suffered from low self-esteem and self-depreciation, it is a wonder I put myself in situations where I have a highly likely hood to fail.
I went from being a good who wanted to be good enough for everyone and felt short on every front, to someone who just wanted to be okay with who she was outside of the expectations of society. I had to let go of the fear of failure, the fear of letting others down and just embrace every aspect of me. Not an easy task and it took many many wrong turns in life to figure any of this out. How did I do it, with a lot of support and a lot of introspection. But I have come to value my failures in life and even more so, actually seek out situations that I know I will most likely initially fail in. What changed? My confidence and my Daughter being born. It is crazy how I child changes you. My daughter is a strong-willed, fiercely independent, incredibly socially outgoing, and creative child. She mirrors me in so many ways and forces me to really look at myself in ways I didn’t before. She makes me stronger and she is so empathic and kind I can’t even put into words. The thing about taking a big risk in life… such as… OH you know, going to study abroad for a year with a small child…in a subject you have already not done great in, knowing it will focus heavily on the ONE topic of school you have ALWAYS struggled with *cough cough* grammar… and you do it anyway. Why… well because you are crazy… that is why.
I am crazy to a degree, but not in the way most people think. Insanity as Einstine defined it, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Which I did, I kept making the same, rather safe choices in life, and ended up being miserable, stressed out, and depressed. But When I found my confidence I finally stepped out of the comfort zone and really pushed myself. I constantly push myself at school, taking more classes in 1 term than most would take in 2 combined. Managing to get 2 associates degrees in a year and a half, now by the end of 2018 will have (Lord willing) Graduated from UNM with a double major in two different fields of study and managed a study abroad that would be the equivalent of a 3rd major (in a foreign language). All of this would be accomplished in a span of 4 years while maintaining a fairly high GPA and a child. I mean, that pushes the limits a bit, but with the right support, direction, and confidence… anything is possible. I am not trying to sound arrogant, I am just proud of myself and I want others to know it is possible to succeed in life even if the cards are stacked against you. It is not easy, it took many many breakdowns, late nights, tears, frustration, days of WHY AM I EVEN BOTHERING… and a roller coaster of failures and successes.
Yesterday I was talking to my Professor Mme Paget, one of the sweetest professors at ISEFE, and we were talking about my progress in French. She is my Primary teacher, the “chef” (leader) of group 2. The group I am currently in. She is the grammar teacher and the one who knows me the best of all the other teachers. She has seen my progress, witnessed my meltdowns, seen my frustration and has encouraged me every step of the way. In the first semester here I had NO confidence at all, I was frustrated by the grammar because it made no sense. I had convinced myself I was never going to get it because I didn’t understand the fundamentals of English grammar so How could I possibly understand French. As a result, my grammar grades were not great, it is just a fact. I struggled in that one area alone. Everything else improved, my speaking, reading and listening comprehension. All of it improved by leaps and bounds… but the grammar inched along. I had to finally get to a point in my own mind where I accepted my own weakness at just that… a weakness. I cannot expect to excel at everything I do in life, that is unrealistic and rather arrogant of me. Instead of looking at my grammar grade and saying “Welp that was a waste of time” I looked further and the progress I had made. My Cousins up North helped with this. Each time I go visit I see it, they see and they tell me. Below is my Wonderful Professor Mme Paget.
It was not about grammar, it was just about what I could communicate and would I can understand. I found my confidence in that. If grammar has always been a struggle why would I expect that to be different in another language, but if I can pick up the rhythm of the spoken language, use context to understand what I read and find the patterns in their sentence structure enough to reproduce it when I write in a fairly comprehensible (if not grammatically correct fashion) then I have succeeded in my goal. I have not failed at all, I have won. I am only half way through and I am already levels above where I was. So after my initial disappointment of not moving up a group for the second term and just being content to stay where I was I find that I am understanding.
My grammar grades have improved by LEAPS and bounds. I went from being one of the bottom students in the class to one of the best. I went from being frustrated by the fast pace of the class to now feeling the drag of having to be patient with the other students. I help others understand, I help explain things to the teacher that other students say that she doesn’t understand. She told me that it was because I found my confidence. I was no longer timid, afraid, and saying “I cant do this”. Instead, I was stepping up, talking boldly… even if not perfectly, and pushing myself harder than before. It shows. My grades reflect it, but more importantly, my attitude reflects it. I know I make mistakes when I talk, I know that I have a very strong American accent when I speak French in front of the class because I am nervous. BUT I also know that I can speak in front of people in French, that despite my accent pronunciation has dramatically improved thanks to the work in the phonetics classes I have been taking. I can hear the differences in the sounds that some can’t and I can reproduce them if I focus and am careful. At this point it is all about practice. I still have until the end of JUNE. Still, have 4 to 5 months of learning. If I can improve this much in 4.5 months with little confidence, imagine what I can do with the confidence I have. I am on a roll… I am going to keep on letting that ball roll. Plus I have the ever constant guidance of my five-year-old who LOVES to correct me now. Hahaha.
Point of this long wrong. You are always your own worse enemy and sometimes you have to accept failure in order to find success. The choices we make in life that create the most fear in us, the most doubt in our ability to succeed, can end up producing some our greatest success and accomplishments of our life. The question is, are you brave enough to step out and face the unknown?