This is the post in which I should be telling you, it’s over. I’m no longer studying Korean. It’s time to shut down this blog.
Except, I can’t. I won’t!
One, because I’ll never not be studying Korean. When you’re ten years into a language, it becomes part of your identity. It’s not so much a hobby as it is a practice. I may not be recording how many hours I study everyday or constantly checking out new textbooks and resources or studying for TOPIK as most of the language learning internet community seems to be doing these days, but part of my brain is always thinking about something related to Korean, particularly since I am now trying my hand at literary translation.
There’s this line from Jane Austen’s Emma that I think of every time I find myself despairing how long I’ve neglected this blog: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” If I weren’t trying to hone my craft, while also trying to improve my language ability (while also having a full-time job), I would be able to blog about it more, I swear.
I’ve written about how embarrassing some of my past blog posts are, but lately I’ve been reflecting on them in terms of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and my own language learning trajectory. I can probably find blog posts that correspond to when I was in each of the four stages with Korean (though I think I stayed humble in the beginning… I don’t think I was ever at the Peak of Mt. Stupid, with an overinflated sense of my own fluency, but I certainly experienced that rush of excitement one gets when one begins a new language and everything is easy and fun.) Longtime readers of the blog will know I’ve certainly languished in the Valley of Despair and trudged the Slope of Enlightenment.
There were times I almost gave up studying Korean, or pursuing anything related to Korean, because it felt like if I couldn’t do it full-time, I wouldn’t ever reach my full potential and if I never reached my full potential, what was the point of it all? I don’t think I’ve fully come to terms with my feelings on that, but I’m in a healthier place now. Dare I say I’m at the Plateau of Sustainability? (Now, if you consider literary translation, I’m probably going to be hanging out in the Valley of Despair for a long while yet.)
There’s a kind of nostalgia in all of this. I rarely have nostalgia for things. Recently, I made a trip back to visit my parents and my mother had to stop me from throwing out my high school yearbook. But I found I have surprising nostalgia for blogging and for my beginner Korean self, and for my small but precious readership. Over the past year, I’ve received blog post comments, Instagram DMs, and emails from readers, and I’ve read every single one of them, even if I haven’t directly replied. I am so thankful for them, for making my navel-gazey writing feel relevant. What is the purpose of writing, of language, if not to pass on something to someone, even if that someone is only yourself?
My posts here may be few and far between but I don’t think I’ll give up this space just yet. I have an excess of thoughts still–some of which may be interesting to people who are not just me.
EDIT: Oh yeah, I have this newsletter where I write about books and life and storytelling, also on an extremely unpredictable cadence, so if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to lurk and/or subscribe.