Yesterday was a lost cause day. Christmas Day. The single worst day of the year for me. The day I simply survive.
Today is better, just because it’s not Christmas Day.
I’m learning something new, but I’m not sure I can put it into words yet. It’s about my depression and my anxiety, and my Autism, and the way they all interact.
I’ve been studying Korean. The language. On Duolingo, for over 430 days now. And I’m coming out of a bad stretch, where it was hard for me to practice Korean at all, let alone a consistent amount daily. I reached a point where I looked at the Duolingo web site, and said, “Time to practice.” And part of me wanted to practice. And part of me wanted to scream. And part of me wanted to cry. And mostly, I just wanted to curl up in a little ball in a corner somewhere, and give up on everything in life.
Last night, I started to pull out of that deep blue funk on Duolingo. I did all the practice I normally have done over the past year. Today, I ran into a cross mix of feeling good about practicing, and of wanting to turn my computer off, and never look at anything Korean again.
Because my brain cells have been turning it into a competition. Into something I have to do. Not something I want to do. Not something that’s fun. But a daily torture session where I’m expecting myself to make progress, endlessly, daily, and to measure up to everyone else’s performance on the Duolingo site.
When I realized my brain cells were doing that, I was able to start undoing that. To start reminding myself I’m not competing with anyone. That I don’t have to finish the day in the top 20 in whatever group Duolingo put me in. That I don’t have to keep up with the top 3 people in that group. That I don’t know any of those people. Or why they are on Duolingo, practicing Korean.
I’m having to remember that I’m on Duolingo, practicing Korean, for fun. For me. Because I want to understand Korean more and better, so I can start to figure out some of the Kpop music I listen to. And I understand it could take years for me to get that adept at Korean. I certainly won’t get there this week, this month, or probably this year.
What I have to remember is it’s not a competition between me and people I’ve never met on the internet. It’s me. Period. Learning a bit of Korean. Slowly. Steadily. At my own pace. Because I want to learn Korean. Not because I have to. Not because someone has challenged me to. Not because I’m in a contest with other people.
But because I think it would be fun to understand, even a little bit, of Korean.
When I started figuring that out today, Duolingo got a hell of a lot more fun.
And yes. I realize I need to do that same thing with the rest of my existence. Figure out what parts I do for fun, and enjoy the heck out of those parts. Even if I have that voice of that stupid social model in the back of my head screaming, “What’s in it for me?”
Fun. That’s what’s in it. Fun. And it doesn’t have to be anything else.
Knowing why I wash the dishes, why I want to wash the dishes, has helped me wash the dishes, even when I’m feeling blue, and don’t want to. I know why I wash the dishes. All the reasons why. The sanitary reasons, the healthy reasons, and the social reasons. And it does make her happier if I get them washed. I have to admit I don’t mind the sinks being clear, and ready for me to put dirty dishes in them, without having to pile those dishes on top of an ocean of other dishes that need washing. And, I’m learning something else. If I keep up better, it’s less of a headache to wash the damn things. Because there are fewer of them to wash each time I wash them.
See? I know why I wash the dishes. And as a result, washing the dishes is becoming less and less of a chore, and more and more of something I understand, and know to take care of. Because I know why the dishes should be washed.
Now, I’m starting to do the same thing with Duolingo. Learning why I practice Korean. All the reasons why. Learning about the concept of fun. Of doing something new, learning something new, just for the fun of learning.
See? There’s the reasons why I practice Korean on Duolingo.
It’s complicated. It’s not because I have to. Not because of a competition. Not because it’s part of my job. It’s because I want to learn something new, just for fun, at my own pace, with no pressure to learn anything at all.
If learning Korean ends up helping me maintain my cognitive abilities as I get older, well. That’s another reason to have fun learning a new language, isn’t it?
One day at a time, I’m learning. Not just Korean. But so many things. So many things.
I’ll have to watch as I learn to do this, to use this understanding of why I do things, and why I want to do things. Slowly, I know, but still, even if slowly, I’m making forward progress. And I’m good with that.