Three years of high school Spanish had not prepared me for this moment. I sat with a patient about to be discharged, unable to make any conversation. I first attempted simple questions in English, “Do you have a big family?” When I got no reply, I struggled to string together something, anything in Spanish. I spoke to her again, “Larga familia?” while gesturing with my hands. Luckily, she understood what I meant and we were able to have a small conversation comparing our families.
Although I had spent several hours learning Spanish vocabulary and submitting numerous projects, I never really learned Spanish. My dad had never understood why I wasn’t fluent, because I had already taken Spanish classes in middle school as well as high school.
But really the language didn’t stick to me because I was never in a situation where I needed to use it. Sure, I was able to translate short sentences from English into Spanish, but I didn’t spend much time trying to express myself. Trying to translate your everyday thoughts into another language proves to be a more difficult task.
You learn by doing. If I am faced with situations in which speaking Spanish is vital to my success, I have no doubt that my Spanish skills will improve.
For example, the summer after my grandfather passed away, I spent most of my time with my grandma. Because I was basically living at her house, I was immersed in Tagalog. My family would always speak in Tagalog, and my grandmother’s shows on TFC all spoke in Tagalog. After growing up for so long having no knowledge or interest in the language, my curiosity got the better of me. I began to ask numerous questions about the meaning, usage, and spelling of words. Eventually, I began to understand the basics.
However, this concept does not only apply to learning languages.
Today my friend showed me all of the different machines at the gym. I felt a little nervous and intimidated by the other people there. I also felt embarrassed about the disparity between our levels of fitness.
However, I survived. I’m feeling sore and tired, but it feels good. I feel content with the knowledge that next time will be smoother. I now feel confident in going by myself.
You learn by doing.
No amount of thinking about going to the gym, or googling what to wear to the gym would help me to take action to actually go to the gym. Thinking does not always equal action. Sometimes, overthinking can even hinder someone from taking action.
Shake off passivity. Take on action. Like Nike says, “Just Do It”.