Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Working Too Hard

A Facebook friend noticed that I was working 'so hard'. This stunned me. It wasn't just that somebody noticed I had been pushing myself a lot, it was that, in order for her to say that, I must have had it written on every inch of my face.

So, I decided to be more playful with my writing. Something I've recently realised was that: I feel I have nothing in particular left to prove. As a very intellectual person who hasn't completed a university degree, in the past I felt a strong need to prove how incredibly gifted I was. I knew I would be judged due to my lack of official qualifications, and was loath to make a single spelling mistake. I wanted every post to have imaginative zeal, to be a genuinely interesting contribution. But, to be honest, I've covered so much ground in my posts, both here and in Postmodern Critic, that I feel I can relax a bit. Anyone who reads a few of my posts will pick up that I have high standards and a passion for mental flexibility which can't necessarily be taught in the classroom. I'm not a memorable writer despite dropping out of uni, but because of it. I design my own education.

Yesterday, I learnt a character or two of Mandarin Chinese. The character represented by the phoneme 'wén' means writing, language or culture. This act I indulged in, of singling out a specific character from many other more ordinary ones (I could have learnt characters relating to the time, or food), makes me feel proud and happy to be learning Mandarin in my own, slow, but deliberate way. I enjoy the challenge of doing things my own way, not being forced to learn something that other people perceive as relevant to me.

Interestingly, I signed up for a Mandarin course in UNSW one year - and was scared away by the tonal aspects of the language. I created a big mental block for myself that I just couldn't escape, because there was no part of Mandarin that was not tonal. I gave up on learning the language entirely after a week. It was only after meeting a Taiwanese guy online and having him pay special attention to me and compliment me so thoroughly on my abilities that I shed my fears. I came around: in my own time. I now feel like learning Mandarin is as straight-forward as learning any language, and view it as an exciting challenge. Okay, it's still a bit intimidating, but I'm not nearly as intimidated as I used to be, and just making the small steps I have made so far has had a huge impact on me: I feel happier. 

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