Be Brave

Taking a language lesson is scary. I think that it's especially intimidating for introverted people.

For some people reading this, regardless of whether you follow the advice given in this course, it's unlikely that you'll be able to eliminate your initial discomfort completely.

That's OK. Who cares if you're uncomfortable?

Let's say that everything in this circle is in your comfort zone:

It's nice inside of your comfort zone. You feel safe, at home. There's nothing to worry about.

There's one huge problem with this, though: You cannot grow unless you get out of your comfort zone. Disruption is a catalyst for growth. The more you expose yourself to a certain type of discomfort, the more you will adapt to be OK with it.

So let's say you go through this course, and you've decided that you're going to take a Japanese lesson online. Nice! But there's only one problem: Taking an online lesson is way out of your comfort zone. You're not even comfortable having a face-to-face chat online, let alone in Japanese. Agh!

Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary. Luckily, you can just get out of it in small steps, powered by 20-second spurts of insane courage (an idea I got from Matt Damon's character in the movie We Bought a Zoo).

Building up to a lesson using 20-second bursts of bravery. Each item only takes a few seconds, and all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage to do each one: 

  1. Hit the “Schedule a Lesson" button for your chosen teacher on italkiCafetalk., or Preply.
  2. Open Skype at the designated lesson time.
  3. Hit “Answer Call" when your teacher calls you. (You don't even need to answer with video, if you're feeling particularly shy or nervous. Sometimes my Japanese students of English do this, too, so they (the student) can see me, but I (the teacher) can't see them. Little do they know that I'm using a 20-second burst of insane courage myself when I hit the “Call" button to start their lesson.)

That's all you really need to do in order to take a lesson. You don't need this course, nor do you need to follow any of the instructions in it. You don't need to know or speak any Japanese.

Yeah, we're learning a lot of things that will make it a more productive experience. Ultimately, though, you already have all of the tools and preparation you need to start taking online lessons (assuming that you have a reliable, high-speed internet connection): a brain, a mouth, a tongue, etc.

Once you start taking a few online lessons, you may find that your comfort zone's shape begins to change, and it will start looking like this:

Before you know it, meeting with your teacher won't feel uncomfortable at all. Maybe instead it'll feel closer to something like going to coffee with an old friend.

Also, the experience of getting out of your comfort zone will make you better at getting out of your comfort zone in the future. For example, let's say you want to try a new teacher. That might still be a bit out of your comfort zone, but it will still be much easier than the original burst of courage that you needed for your first lesson:

In this way, learning a new language can improve not only your language skill, but also your social skills in general. I know that for me personally, teaching English (which is sort of the inverse of this) has helped me to expand my general comfort zone and improve my social skills immeasurably. It's one of the greatest things that I've gotten out of teaching.

So what are you waiting for? Build up a 20-second burst of insane courage and schedule your first Japanese lesson already. Then we can rush through the rest of this course together.

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