Learn A Foreign Language To Feel Like A Child Again
I'm currently immersed, once again, in learning and practicing a foreign language. I'm in Brazil, so it is Portuguese for me. Every day I face the reality that I'm not fluent in this country's language, and naturally, it messes with my head.
As an adult with an established ego that doesn't enjoy being challenged, I find myself in conversations where I have an opinion and knowledge of the subject matter. Still, I can't fluently use the language of the populace because I either don't have enough vocabulary and grammatical patterns or can't access the depth of my memory. It leaves me feeling helpless. On the other hand, if I try to remember myself as a child, when I couldn't yet speak on the level of the adults around me, I can't recall being in a constant state of despair. On the contrary, I took all those challenges as a fun exercise. I did my best and found crafty ways to express myself. More importantly, I didn't feel much shame about not knowing how to say something; I simply accepted that the adults had more experience than me and therefore had an advantage.
A child's advantage is in the ability to quickly fill up its elastic brain with relevant information. There is not yet an established self-image of a person who knows it all. Learning a new language takes me back to being a child. If I consciously decide that there should be no reason to feel upset because I can't find a way to say something, I can take it easy. I can feel like a little boy exploring the world again.
The developed ego wants to walk into any situation with full ammunition and effortlessly wing it. Well, it's not possible in a new and unfamiliar environment. As a foreigner in a completely foreign country speaking a language I don't yet understand, I must continually advance my communication skills. And that's a beautiful thing. I can't think of many other ways to put your brain to work. Throwing myself out there is like taking my brain to the gym. Even a simple visit to a supermarket, a pharmacy, or a barbershop is a new challenge. My ability to express myself becomes easier each time. As realizations appear, further questions arise.
In today's age, it's much simpler to master any subject. We now have online dictionaries, videos, ebooks, classes over Zoom, chat rooms, and messenger apps when it comes to learning languages. We have virtually countless opportunities to clarify, practice, and solidify. So if you want to feel young again, pick up a new language and give your ego the middle finger because it's never too late to learn.
P.S. I wrote a e-book on how to get started with learning a new language. (Here it is, on Amazon.com), you'll need a Kindle reader or a Kindle app on your smartphone or tablet to read it.