Ugh. I just had a horrible realization. I am completely holding myself back from speaking Spanish. I understand lots. I mean, almost 80% of what people say. But I don’t respond because I don’t know exactly what to say. This is a huge problem. It’s like I am trying to comprehend everything in my head, to gather everything, with the hopes that one day everything will just come together and I will speak fluently. That’s not really how thing work, I realize. I don’t know exactly what my problem is. I don’t know if it’s because I despise like feeling stupid – ok, yeah I do know that it’s because of that. I hate sounding like a 2 year old kid when I try to put sentences together. It stinks.
During my intensive Spanish lessons in Chicago was when I first noticed this issue. I would read things, listen, and understand, but it was like pulling teeth getting me to speak. One of my teachers, Frida, told me that she wasn’t worried about my comprehension or writing, she was worried about my speech! And not because I couldn’t do it – I have been told numerous times when I do speak I speak very well – it’s just because I won’t do it. I dread it.
Today I was reviewing a standard with a co-worker, Javier, who also wishes to know English better. He had a great method – he read the standard in English, and translated it out loud into Spanish. And he did very well! So then he says, OK, your turn. And I froze. Like a deer in headlights. My heart started pounding. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, and tightness in my chest. Even though I knew what the first word was, I couldn’t get it out. The first words out of my mouth were “It’s hard because I don’t know the words”. You know what, because I said that - that’s exactly what happened. I couldn’t do it because I wouldn’t let myself.
After I tried sixteen different ways to get out of it, he finally told me – you NEED to do this, you’re not getting out of it. I did it. Don’t get me wrong, it was horrible. It took me ½ hour to read a 7 sentence paragraph, but I did it. And I ended up learning twice as many words in an hour as I have the past two weeks.
Ugh. So, how does one overcome a fear like this? Just do it, right? Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m hoping that once my classes start I will loosen up a bit – the more I learn the more I won’t fear speaking. Or, maybe I will just start drinking at work. Liquid courage. I always speak better when I am a bit tipsy! It just really sucks, all this time I have been blaming Apasco for not getting me classes, and really it’s always just been me holding myself back. It’s a really crappy feeling, but hopefully it helps me move along.