Discouragement and Encouagement

The other day, I was feeling very discouraged about my Chinese. I felt that I wasn’t going anywhere, that I wasn’t improving. I have been learning Chinese for 27 years, and felt like my language skills were nowhere near where I wanted them to be. Disheartening, depressing, discouraging, take your pick of words to describe my frustration.

But then a coworker lent me a local news magazine, and I was thrilled to find that I could read it without having to look up more than a few words. I noticed many words that I had learned since starting language lessons here in China. I realized that I was actually learning a lot.

So what was the cause of my discouragement? If I was actually improving, why did I feel like I wasn’t? I wondered about this for several days, then I had an epiphany: it was because my notebook was full.

I usually carry a Moleskine notebook to write down new words and phrases in Chinese. However, I bought another notebook a few months ago, and recently used it up. I leafed through it to review what I had written down over the last few months, and was surprised at how many words I didn’t remember. Maybe that is what triggered the feeling that I wasn’t making progress? I was writing down words, then immediately forgetting them?

Well, my new notebook is a Moleskine, and I see now what my problem is. The Moleskine has many more pages than that other notebook. If I don’t review the notebook until I fill it up, and my notebook has so many pages in it that it takes me six months to fill it, then by the time I review the notebook, enough time will have passed that I actually will have made more progress by the time I review it.

The lesson that I learned from this experience is: use notebooks with more pages.

Here’s the notebook that I use. I’ve been using these notebooks for almost ten years, and I love love love them. I will never be unfaithful to them again!

Disclaimer: If you click that link, and subsequently buy the product, I will get a tiny kickback. It’s a way of trying to subsidize the cost of this blog without obnoxious ads.

One Comment

  1. JM

    Susan said once, after she admitted that her sermon wasn’t good, but it WAS, “If you don’t think you know what you’re doing, you do, and you know it.” Took me a minute.

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