Do you know that feeling, the self-expectations that you “feed” yourself with, when you are so sure that you are going to be great at something that you never really did before? I guess that you are confused “What is this guy talking about?” I will try to explain, through my experience.
Well, when I was six years old my family and I lived in Chicago for ten month. We were there for my father’s post doctoral degree in Anthropology and Sociology. If it wasn’t clear, we are not American. So, as I was saying, we lived in Chicago and I was on my first grade. I never spoke English before, but I was familiar with quite a few words. I don’t really remember a lot of my daily interactions but I’m sure that I had enough to gain a good, solid, control of the English language during that time.
It has been over 20 years since then. We never travelled to the U.S. again, not that we didn’t want to, it just didn’t happen. I never left Israel for more than a few weeks, and even then I was already 26, and didn’t really have to use my English “skills”.
“Where is he going with that?” I can hear your thoughts, I really can. Well, I won’t hang you out to dry. My story is this.
I’m 28 years old, I just finished my full year internship in a law firm after getting my bachelor degree in Law and I’m relocating to New York in two month. And now I can hear the voice in your head “Finally! He is getting there…”, I’m getting there. My point is, I was 100% sure that my English would be fluent. Like I would get to the U.S. and every one will just hire me in a blink of an eye.
I was actually thinking something like “mmm… I will probably have to shake off some ‘dust’, speak to a few people and puff, I’m an English speaker!”. Well this blew up in my face. As you can see, my writing skills are o.k. and I do have a pretty solid vocabulary, which also makes reading pretty easy for me. Despite that, I can barely make it threw a full, fluent, conversation. I sound fine but not more than that. That’s it.
I guess that my main issue is a lack of confidence while speaking to someone who is not me. This was a joke. But yet, I do get nervous while talking in English to strangers (even to my wife’s American friends or American mom). Other than that I really struggle with pronunciation, especially when there is more than one ‘R’ in a sentence.
So, by now you probably got the picture. I believe that each and every one of us struggle with stuff like that. It can happen while trying a new sport, language, a game, making friends or starting to work in a new job or field. Sometimes it’s not really an issue and you just let it go, but sometimes it can really make you nervous. As it gets more important to you it makes you more nervous.
I’m not trying to invent here anything or to tell that I have an exciting discovery, I’m sharing. This is my first attempt to share my feelings and thoughts widely (or not just with my wife). I actually started writing this hoping to achieve two main goals: (1) Share my story, get feedbacks for it and get to know other peoples’ stories; (2) One of my “tasks” is, by the time I’ll get to New York, to improve my English skills, at least to some extent. This is my writing section. So I share it with you guys hoping that, even only a few of you will help me correct my mistakes.