In today's episode I'm talking about overstimulation and how it affects my language learning. As language learners, I think we often get the message that speaking and listening are the most important skills to work on. I’ve struggled with getting in a significant amount of speaking and listening practice in both of my languages, which comes with a lot of guilt. Lately, though, I’m coming to realize that my struggle is more than the usual fear of making mistakes, not being confident, and feeling uncomfortable when I don’t understand something or can’t find the words I’m looking for. Although all of those things have definitely been true for me, there’s a lot more to unpack here.
Even though I have conversation lessons, speak with friends in my languages, and use one of them almost daily in my community, I feel a lot of guilt when I don't speak to myself in my languages when I’m in the car alone or while getting myself ready in the morning. Even though I listen to Italian music daily and hear German all around me, I feel a lot of guilt when I don't listen to a podcast on my languages on my commute home or while I'm cleaning up after dinner. But ya know what, sometimes I just can’t do it. For my own sanity, I can’t listen to anything in any language. For my own sanity I can’t listen to anyone talk, even if it’s myself, and even if it's a language I absolutely love. Instead, I just need to process my thoughts, reserve my energy for my kids, or just...be.
Some days or weeks, I find joy and comfort in filling the little moments with language time, but other times, I don't. And then I feel guilty. My negative thoughts tell me that I just don't have it in me, I'm not the kind of person who does, and I'm never going to reach the level I want because I’m slacking too much. But instead of giving in to the guilt and the negative thoughts, I'm trying to question them and allow myself to see and believe the bigger picture of me. More often than not, I’m just feeling overstimulated, overwhelmed, and/or completely drained of energy, and I need to seek out silence instead. And that's okay. There's no reason for any of us to feel guilty for taking care of what we need for our mental health, so I really needed to explore that today, and I hope it reaches those who need to hear this message, as well.