The Language Advantage of foreigners

     From my own experience, I am coming to a conclusion that foreign language is one of the best tools to boost self confidence, especially in speech. Resigning on intuition-based learning of the language, which comes through childhood to form your mother tongue holds some distinctive advantages.
  1. If you learn the language from movies, series, books, you become the characters.
    That is the case of most foreigners learning English. Our vocabulary expands in directions guided by our favourites protagonists, our accents imitate favourite actors and actresses. As they have introduced as to particular phrases first, any time we use them, we can ‘become’ those people, which leverages self esteem to a completely different level.
  2. No emotional load.
    Assuming studying the language as more mature individual, foreigners are lucky to skip the awkward early teenage phase of the language. When word sex raises awkward giggle (generally anything sexually related taboo subject that causes kids to be uncomfortable), when first swearwords are scolded by parents. ‘Internationals’ are likely to operate freely in the new language just as they wish, with no memory-based background of emotions behind words. There is no undercover feeling of stupidity or some words feeling weird, awkward. Those are the people who speak their mind in most straightforward way.
  3. It forces you to become accurate in speech.
    There is a phase every foreigner encounters when studying a language; you can’t fully express yourself as in your mother tongue. It seems like there are not enough words for you; like the words you choose are close, but not exactly what you mean. As you break through this stage you suddenly find yourself accurate, specific, relevant. You are able to extract the essence of words and random statements. Risk of becoming judgemental involved as you start to interpret meaning of what one is saying. As most of your vocabulary you have learnt comes straight from books and dictionaries you have been checking multiple times, eloquence is inevitable. You have come across too many fully-fledged academic definitions so to not assess meaning of words on a daily basis.
  4. Swearing can be unpredictable.
    As a foreigner, I did not have a chance to meet with an ’emotional scale’ of swearing. There was nobody to scold me as a teenager for the very first ‘fuck’ coming out my mouth, and my teachers in this topic were random actors and singers. I do not know which swearwords are mild, which are common, which sound childish or stupid, which sound like from previous century and, of course- what combination of them all would be the absolute worst.
  5. You may experience the ‘pendulum moment’.
    One of the most interesting experiences I have had was something I like to call a ‘pendulum moment’. It is the switch, when you find yourself in some kind of a hinterland between two languages, unsure which one suits you better. When you feel equally comfortable in both of them.
    In my international high school class we used to blend Polish and English as it suited as. It felt as if we had doubled the number of options to express what we want to say. However, switching completely to a different language- your pendulum moment- can be the best personal investment in yourself, as you breach the transitional phase of struggling with a language.
  6. Idioglossia
    Pertaining to mentioned earlier blending of two languages, idioglossia is a language invented and spoken by several individuals, which often forms in international settings, created by foreigners as an attempt to make up for unknown phrases, idioms, words. Suddenly, some words are not good enough, and you may find yourself inventing new ones. It results in most interesting language alterations, hilarious mistakes, incorporation of generic Latin-rooted words, not even knowing or caring whether it is grammatically correct. It requires much intuition in guessing the whole range of meanings and feeling behind particular words, and creativity in blending them with other ones, sourcing from any languages we know. It’s like writing Finnegans Wake in real life, and most entertaining experience.
  7. You are slightly different in other languages.
    Whether it’s the difference in words used, or what exact definitions of them you know- you reason differently in other languages than in your own. Your logic can be either distorted, forcing you to skillfully navigate through meanings you are decoding, or can be more objective, free from emotional bias present in your mother tongue. One way or another, it is surely a challenge worth experiencing.
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Suspension

     You surely know how some people ‘click’ together easily. From a point of meeting them you realize you two are talking effortlessly and with every conversation becoming more interesting to each other. You like them right away. Your conversations are completely different than ‘normal’. Topics that you speak about are definitely extraordinary, and you can find a topic within other topic, digging into the subject, forgetting what you were discussing in the first place.
     I can’t explain it, but some people just have it. Maybe it’s some kind of observance, attentiveness, maybe a right balance between agreeing and disagreeing, or maybe the ease in approaching other people. You look them straight in the eyes when speaking, and there is nothing awkward in the eye of contact you actually like to maintain. It is natural, after all, and creates the privacy in your conversation, some kind of intimacy. You are amused with their jokes, and so they are with yours. You outspeak each other. You are fascinated with their stories.You hear a compliment on your sense of humour.
      This is the “moment of suspension”. It is not yet a flirt, but not just a kind interest anymore. Sometimes when you brush shoulders with this person you could wonder if this is normal, natural, or is it….?
     “Could that be…?” question sometimes pops up in the back of your head, as you catch a meaningful look they gave you, or remember how there was something not-so-usual in they way they looked at you. It’s no longer a flat, kind, regular relationship between you two. You sense a whole second bottom, intriguing and exciting. Some could say this uncertainty is awful, wishing for it to end and ask them straightaway how do they feel. I’ve come to realize how much I enjoy this suspension. It is just in this time when even the slightest, accidental touch of their hands can send you shivers up your spine. When a prolonged look at each other while surrounded by other people can even embarrass you.
     At this point, both of you are still unsure about the other, both intrigued, not wanting to put cards on the table. Not yet, at least. The longer it lasts, the more interesting it gets.

How interest gives rise to trust, how authentic trust gives control

“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, were being ashamed of what they were, lying about it, trying to be somebody else. Honesty was Fats’ currency, his weapon and defense. It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them. Other people, Fats had discovered, were mired in embarrasment and pretense, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labeled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”  – J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

“It is the nature, and the advantage, of strong people that they can bring out the crucial questions and form a clear opinion about them” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

           Ability to ‘extract’ the essence out of any statement, conversation or question. It requires you to see beyond the superficial level, so to dig into the core meaning, the exact place where your opinions should be formed. It all comes down to effectively paying attention and using what you’ve heard. It is the insider knowledge of the listener.
              Combined with observance, basic knowledge of body language, and some level of emotional maturity, you are armed with a perfect control tool. I may actually know exactly what you mean, but choose to pretend otherwise so to give you a free hand in deciding in which direction our conversation is going.
            This ‘control span’ ensures that you are rarely surprised in life, rather consciously exploring what constitutes the very first knot of trust and how distinctive threads are formed in the web of interpersonal relations.
                  And the first knot? You like any person who shows you some portion of attention; those who are not needy nor desperate, so when they pay attention to you, you actually know that this attention matters. It seems to be something special. They ask well-thought questions, often ask why, and often seek explanation of your choices. Seems like they have chosen you on the basis of who you are, not because they planned to become friends with just anyone.

 

Improvisation is the confidence now.

      Sincere, straightforward, cracking jokes about themselves, escaping social dilemmas with their disarming honesty. I like to believe it’s this kind of confidence that attracts people to each other. Because no matter how stupid things you say or do, doing it in a confident way ensures their interpretation as surprising, funny. Confidence strikes right through it.
     I definitely value confident people, in lieu of that unattractive neediness and overrated modesty. I like those self-investing in themselves, constantly changing. I like how diverse they are. It’s the chameleon nature, not only adaptability. The only people that interest me are the mad ones. The ones that are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles, exploding like spiders across the stars, by Jack Kerouac.
     The madness is the change, improvisation, and the courage itself to improvise.
     Exactly those people (despite being narcissistic assholes from time to time) are, in general, so much better than those boring us to death. It’s nothing worse than spending time with boredom. Some people can constantly challenge you, sometimes overwhelm- but if you fight back, you enter the most engaging field. The very best training for your self esteem you could find. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, as Jim Rohn said. So, when there’s not much to be found around those never crossing any line, it’s hard to develop. Especially when they fear other people’s judgement. Do not weigh your options for too long. Start with the first step, you may just get the rush so to improvise in the process. The more you do it, the better you get at it. The better you get, the more confident you become.
     Never chase people. Chase your dreams, and people will follow. Only then you are well aware of who you are, not afraid to leave whenever you want. Tell yourself “You can always go home” (thank you, Matthew Hussey) and leave any place that you do not wish to be in. Spending time by yourself, only with your thoughts can either crush you under a “loner” heading, or leverage your maturity and boost creativity.
     Perception of a loner is created entirely by yourself, relative. What others see is your Halo Effect. Your actions and (more importantly) the way you do it is the ‘halo’ around you (thank you, Edward Thorndike, for clarifying that, now I can come to my own point). It’s in the way you do it. The message you send by eating by yourself, sitting alone at a table, spending your time in solitude can be just anything, so make it good. Be confident about it.
 Also, in regard for fake it till you make it (thank you, Amy Cuddy), this is just where your confidence is born.

“Banal” is not that banal.

     I tend to use this word quite a lot, and here is why I love it so much.
     First of all, and paradoxically, the word itself is not so obvious as its meaning:
banal calls a synonym “obvious” first for Polish, but “common” first for Romanians. At least the one that I got to chat about it with. And on the other hand, “trivial” calls for word “ordinary” first for Polish, and “ordinary” for Romanian as well.
     So Romanian people get it, saying “banal“. Italian people say “banale“, Polish people saying “banalny“, Dutch say “banaal“, Germans say “banal” as well.
All of those people, speaking Latin-founded languages get the exact meaning of this word, given that they got to know it by experience. Even the way this word sounds when you say it. Requires minimum movement of the mouth, as if even saying it would bore you just as much as whatever you are describing with it.
     Semantic meaning of this word, i.e. the array of a word’s synonyms and meanings, which I like to extend to metaphors, would be utterly flat. Plain, predictable, obvious, not surprising by any fluctuation or change of pace.
     The letters used in that word seem round and mild, sort of melting in your mouth when you say it. This word crawls lazily out of your mouth. It is nothing like any sharp, specific word, let’s say, ‘knife‘. Saying knife is fast, dynamic, ending with that characteristic whiz on letter ‘f’ which reminds you of the sound that an actual knife makes when swung fast in air.
     Even the way we write ‘knife‘, or ‘knives‘ looks much more edged than ‘banal‘. Letters kiv are outright and critical. If you write them vigorously, they might even tear paper underneath. With banal, you are able to effortlessly swirl your pen alongside the letters, not even elevating your hand.
     It’s interesting to think how differently must those words sound in Arabic, or Chinese. Do they intonate their words in a similar way as well? Is word ‘boring’ boring as well, in a way you can prolong syllable ‘o’ or say the entire word with not even separating your teeth?
That is why I like ‘banal ‘ as an example, to wonder whether ‘latin-dynamic’ words are dynamic in other languages as well.

Life is a joke

Life has a pretty much ironic way of resolving the issues we have. Fritz Haber aimed to create a gas able of killing thousands, invented the Haber Process, gas obtained ended up saving millions of lives. By producing ammonia at most efficient rates, intensive farming has been enabled and fed whole countries- not much as for the nickname of father of chemical warfare, Fritz.

     Let’s meet the most amazing person to us. Let’s both become sure each is just the type of person we could spend our lives with. And then, come back to our lives cause you two live thousands of miles away. Probably married. With kids.
     Let’s go on meticulously planned trip to a seaside, just to be welcomed by heavy clouds ready to take a rain piss on you.
     Let’s make A to really like B, and guess what, B likes C. Sometimes even C is into A, which would be a threshold of irony, borderline with just plain evil.
    I know how some people say life is the best screenplay. But if God exists, sometimes I wonder whether he is a sadistic maniac watching us run in circles over and over again, making us think “Dammit I’m mad” – which is even more funny considering that this phrase is a palindrome.
     Moreover, life has geared us (or at least some of us) with an amazing skill, just fit to fuck with our minds even more. Intuition. How many times have you said “I knew it would happen”? Too many, I guess. And even worse case is saying it and actually not falling for the hindsight bias- this is what is called Murphy’s Law. Sometimes, you might even end up having a true epiphany, a moment of revelation, but in the end all your dreams, and your deja-vu feelings combined with conspiracy theories that humans create leave us further than any closer to making sense.
     All ambigrams that you tattoo on your forearms are just a perfect metaphor of what I’m saying. That is just a tribute for all the twisted life scenarios and us, running in circles, thinking we’re getting closer to something. I like how Mick Jagger phrases that. What’s confusing you is just the nature of my game, just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints, as heads as tails, just call me, Lucifer (and how exactly do you call it when it just so happens that as I write it, it’s Friday the 13th?)
     Hookup? Why are we able to give all of us to a stranger, but cannot be sincere with closest friends?
    Or even the fact that internationals often speak English to the poshest level possible, moulding the language, creating neologisms and portmanteau words accordingly to their needs and yet Americans still can’t tell the difference between your and you’re.
    I tend to say that nothing ever surprises me. I think of a person I haven’t spoken to for years; actually, not even think, they just come across my mind for a brief minute and- baam!, next day they write to me. I try not to be surprised when that happnes. It holds true as long as you accept that in some ways (many ways, to be honest) life is, actually, a joke. As long as you do not try to control it, nothing can surprise you. The moment you let go is the moment you take the steer.
(Oh, the irony of that conclusion.)

Integrity, being true in what you do and what you say.



– …, don’t you think so?
– Yeah yeah yeah.
(I didn’t hear what you said so I’m just gonna say yeah and hope it’s enough)

     In my attempt to break out of this, I have said these words exactly; “Oh, I didn’t hear what you said anyway, was hoping my ‘yeah’ was enough of an answer“, completely changing the whole feel and pace of the conversation.
     How is that many, when asked a question, do not give you a clear answer, but just elope? If you were to try to describe what was their message, you probably would not even know how to put it in words- did they just shrug their shoulders, or remained silent? Or said just anything, but an actual answer? I know that sometimes people just do not want to speak about certain topics. I totally understand it. But have enough dignity to say “I do not want to talk about it”, instead of just keeping silent. Instead of eloping. Your language, and ability to communicate should be a tool to you to speak your thoughts, for that your thoughts are your most inner and true version of yourself.
    Other example, “solving” a problem by just walking away from it, with no sentence or word of explanation is just a cowardice. Running away from it always makes it worse; this statement must have been repeated enough times so to become the truth. How is it that some people dare to stop a friendship within couple of days by just floating away? And even worse, acting like nothing is changed, like everything is just fine and normal. Well guess what, it’s not.
     Speak up. Explain yourself. The reason why you want it – to change a job, end a relationship, sell the house your salary has been working for so hard, or leave the country you live – should be the only one, that allows you to think and act with integrity. It is how you feel. At any point in your life, when something does not feel right, you should ask yourself “Am I happy?”, and if not, then saying “Because I am not happy” is a damn well reason enough to change job, end a relationship, sell house or do any thing in this world that you truly feel like doing.
Other than that, never try to avoid giving a clear answer. Do not leave the issue without resolving it. You do not want it to remain as an unfinished puzzle never to be solved. Be honest with yourself, be mature enough, and have enough respect for you, and the other person, to resolve whatever needs to be resolved. Do not go around pretending everything is fine when it’s clearly not.
Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
(by Miguel Angel Ruiz)
   Why would you start investing all your time and effort in somebody if then, suddenly, you stop speaking with them and not giving a clear explanation? Why bother at all? It is called integrity that is needed so to not leave any unfinished business. So to not leave the other person hanging onto a hope. So to actually do what you’re saying you will do. And, sometimes, ‘saying’ is not necessarily put in words, but in actions. When actions are true with what you want and plan to do.
     If you are not sure you will do something, say so, say you are UNSURE. And finally, if you don’t want to do it, say it. Say no. Be true to yourself instead of making meaningless promises, whether it’s by your word or actions. Those are worth nothing but a medal of immaturity, borderline with worst kind of dishonesty.
Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
(by W. Clement Stone)
     If you suddenly change your mind, having second thoughts about any place or situation you are in – feel free to ‘untangle’ yourself out of it. Ask yourself, “Am I happy in it?” and feel free to walk away at any moment, but always explain yourself. You do not need to feel obliged to sacrifice your own self for the sake of someone else all the time.
Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy, as said by Robert Tew, but I would take it further. Walk away, but do it in a mature, proper way. Changing your mind and turning a place upside down if you need it is not wrong, but the way you do it- this is what really counts.
Never elope. Some people, instead of clearly stating “I will not speak about this”, they mastered the skill of speaking their way out even out of straight, clear Yes/No questions. I could probably give a shout out to some politicians for this skill.
     Switch to disarming honesty, please. Switch to your own integrity in what you do, what you say, what you think.