We all want to be better at something. For some of us, it's a sport. For others, it's an instrument. And for others, it's a language. Whatever skill you are practicing, or whatever positive habit you are trying to establish, the goal is to improve yourself. As we all know, improvement requires regular practice.
Unfortunately, there are many things which prevent us or discourage us from practicing. One of the worst of these things, and one which can be challenging to avoid, is comparing ourselves to other people.
Now, let me be clear. It's good to have positive role models and inspirations to encourage us to achieve our goals. I'm sure most kids who play soccer today like to imagine that they are Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. There is nothing wrong with this. What is wrong is quitting because we do not immediately have the skills of Messi or Ronaldo. We wish we could play like them right away, and we become discouraged when we can't.
Just like a young soccer player shouldn't compare themselves to a professional one, a second-language learner shouldn't compare themselves to someone who grew up speaking the language, or to someone who is also learning that language, but who is at a higher level. It takes time, consistent effort, and resilience to get better at anything, and we need to accept that everyone develops their skills at different speeds. We also need to accept that high levels of fluency and proficiency are not achieved quickly regardless of the person.
The most important thing is that you do YOUR best. Are you an intermediate English speaker who wants to get better? What are your weaknesses? Do you struggle with articles, or do you want to become more comfortable with phrasal verbs? Focus on your weaknesses, and go one step at a time.
Is it easy to stay positive during the entire learning process? No. Of course not. Periods of doubt, frustration, or anger are normal and should be expected.
I can hear you.
"Why can't I understand these song lyrics?"
"Why do I keep making the same mistakes?"
"Why am I not as good as my colleague?"
You are not alone. The most important thing to do when you have thoughts like these is to remember that you are you, and to accept that you will grow and improve at a different speed than the person next to you. And you WILL improve. You WILL get better. You SHOULD be proud of yourself for the progress you have already made, and believe that you will CONTINUE to make progress moving forward. And if you need a break, that's okay, too.
Because you can do this. Just continue to do YOUR best.
Until next time, thanks for reading, good luck with your studies, and leave a comment below if you have anything you want to share about this topic or about your English learning experience.