Patience for the Learner

Sometimes it is so incredibly easy to forget to be patient. I don’t generally consider patience a particular talent of mine, and I’m quite certain that if you asked a selection of my students, they would confirm it heartily.

At the end of a long day, I often feel like there wasn’t enough time to do everything I expect of myself. I’m no workaholic, but I do like how it feels to be working hard toward something and to see progress. The hard part for me is not reigning in some crazy overly-obsessive work ethic or struggling to motivate myself to do anything productive at all; somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, I am trying constantly to find balance in living what I consider to be a full life and also in finding rest.

I am often saying I wish there were a third day in the weekend or that I wish there were more hours in the day. I will come right out and say it: I want ridiculous things. I want to learn every language and travel to every country on the planet and read every book ever. BUT, obviously this won’t be an attainable life goal for even the most disciplined human being. Realizing this, why is it still so difficult for me to accept that I have limits and that I am learning? I’d like to tell whoever first wrote, “Il perfetto è nemico del bene” (The perfect is enemy of the good) that they are a real jerk. I’m not trying to do everything perfectly, but why is it so difficult still to do even a few things well?

We need to practice having patience for ourselves so that we can have patience with others. Everyone we meet is learning something. My students are not only learning a foreign language, they are learning how to be proper humans, how to socialize, how to grow and think and play in an unforgiving and quickly changing world. In the same way, I may technically be an adult, but I am right there with them learning a new language and an entirely new way of life. I am learning how to speak Korean, how to eat Shabu Shabu correctly without the waitress’ help, how to study Italian all the way in Asia, and how to live life separated by over 6,000 miles from my family.

In a few days, I’ll have lived 6 incredible months in Korea and I can barely believe it. There is so much more I hope to do and see and I don’t ever feel like there will be time for it all. How can it be possible that this fall it will have been 2 years since I studied in Siena? I am so grateful to those who have been so patient with me as I learn and I hope that I can learn to become as patient with myself and with others.

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