It was easier in December

Posted on February 4th, 2012 by

New year’s resolutions are never so well kept as on January 1;  I never take better notes then at the beginning of a semester;  and when I move into a new place, my desk is organized, my cloths put away, and my bed is made (sometimes).  My instillation in France was accordingly miraculous.  In my journal, I recorded everything from my day except my breathing and heartbeat; I walked everywhere; I went to bed before midnight, and got up with one alarm and no snooze (I usually require a small circus to get up).  Sometimes, I was early to things, and I controlled my desire to devour large quantities of delicious French breads and other foods.

But, despite my living several time zones away, I am the same person.  I have the same habits and tendencies.  I still stay up doing things until 2:23 in the morning, like writing this post… hypothetically.  I have also already missed my alarm and slept late.  I write much less in my journal, and am having trouble finding a routine with which to accomplish everything I want to do over here.  The dreams of December are over, and January has hit.

It may be shocking, but I have also discovered how much easier it is to speak English with the other American students.  And even more than the simplicity of conversing in English, there is a subtle choice I have started to sense.  When speaking English amongst ourselves, it is a lot easier to get to know one another, but if you speak French, there is a barrier.  Because of that, speaking French instead of English feels like choosing the language over relationships.

However, this is a false choice.  Sometimes, friendships are built not by the fluid exchange of information in one’s first language, but by struggling together.  In French, it’s hard for me to detail my history, opinions, and dreams as I can in English.  Yet, a commitment to speaking French does not necessitate a barrier;  it is a path to growing with those making this same frustrating effort.

I want to face the reality of January, so I admit that sometimes I will speak English.  However, despite those times, I will continue the frustrating, roundabout challenge of communicating everything in French.  To any other IES students reading this, know that I am not choosing the language above you.  Instead, I want to join you in an uncomfortable, frustrating challenge that will build not a wall, but a history between us.

Alright, I’ve fulfilled my quota of melodrama.  Shortly, I will go finish some reading which I should have done earlier.  It’s tempting to get really frustrated that I haven’t found a better routine, or gotten that homework done sooner, but the worse temptation is to maintain expectations that don’t include hitches.  I need to speak less English, and I need to get a routine, but it’s ok that I haven’t fulfilled those intentions perfectly.  Failure to execute an objective flawlessly does not necessitate abandoning the goal.

I was hoping another new beginning would erase old habits.  Naturally, I was wrong.  The only way to do that is by replacing them with new habits, which are not formed by avoiding failure, but by responding to it correctly.  You may have already failed at your new year’s resolution, but that doesn’t matter.  The resolution still does.



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