I had a three-day this week after a somewhat grueling week, and even though it began yesterday, I’m only just now beginning to put thoughts into words. I spent yesterday doing a few errands and taking some much-needed, restful lazy time.
A few weeks ago I began my new French course. It’s been, overall, fine. I’ve been trying to rewire my brain to let go of the fact that I should have taken these classes alongside my other ones, let alone that I should have taken it 10 years ago. But here I am, approaching 30, struggling to remember a foreign language on zoom once a week. A true tragedy.
Last week was one of those classic college stress weeks that put me on the edge of a mental breakdown fueled by sleepless nights and copious amounts of coffee. It didn’t help that a few weeks ago I had a depressive episode. But now that I’m through it I’m just happy to be able to take some time to reflect.
Yesterday involved researching cooking appliances and bullet journals, a welcome relief from the mind numbing battle with the langue française. I don’t like feeling stupid; I don’t feel accomplished when I heave over a hurdle, I feel drained and defeated. It’s a long time struggle with success, and reframing that thought process so core to my being is difficult.
It’s much easier to deal with researching food processors or notebooks. Dealing with things I have strong if not inconsequential feelings about. I don’t like plastic knobs that will break within two years. I have a color palette. A design language. A preferred weight of the paper. Even if I can’t put it into (English) words. I know what I know.
The same is technically true about learning French. I know next to nothing, and I know that I know next to nothing. And while I like learning things, something about learning a language feels different. It’s like learning how to play with letter blocks, but getting angry that I can’t stack the c block with the s and write a novel.
And then there’s the anxiety – especially when speaking. On my own I get exhausted when struggling to get something memorized or a pronunciation right, but the moment I hit the unmute button it’s like I’ve forgotten English, too. The other day we had to list celebrities and their nationalities. Beyoncé est américaine, that sort of thing. I couldn’t even do what I just did now; it’s like my entire brain had melted. I knew of nobody. I was suddenly very aware of my place as the only existing person in the universe.
It sucks because when I clear that first hurdle, that stress of rote memorization, it’s all out the window when anyone even remotely perceives me, even if I’m not speaking – even knowing I might have to hit unmute makes me unable to think the right words.
This isn’t some unique problem. There’s a reason people quit language learning. But I’m so, so, so close to this stupid degree. I’ve withdrawn from this course at least three times and there’s nowhere else to move it off – besides my math course starting in a week and a half (!!!), this is it, the end of the line.
And then there’s math. The biggest issue with taking ten years to complete a two year degree is that sometimes people decide to change things, and the math course I originally took no longer exists – meaning nor does it’s required follow up course. So in roughly two weeks I’ll be taking the follow up course to a course I’ve never taken in a subject I fundamentally do not fuck with. I’m an English major for a raison, merci beaucoup.
This next two months is going to be the most difficult holiday season of my thirty years. Between retail and two of my most difficult courses yet, I accept that I’ve set myself up for failure here. But I’ve got a lot more positivity than I’ve had in a long time, depressive episodes or nah.
Enter coping strategies. The doing my own thing, the journaling, the changing my default language settings. Literally whatever it takes, I’ll do it. Because I have to. I am almost trente ans, Christ. I don’t want to be selling things to wealthy people, for wealthy people, for the next ten years. And while my ultimate goal is escaping society in general, the realist in me knows that I need that damn degree if I’m gonna get out of retail. Pray for me, frères et soeurs. It’s gonna be a rough hiver.