Reflections

Inward Reflection

Languages are the representation of our thoughts, ideas, and culture. Through language, we can connect deeply in many ways with people, but at the same time, language can become a barrier in which a person is incapable of expressing their inner thoughts completely. I was born and raised as a Hispanic. My thinking has always revolved around my native tongue, Spanish. I have never needed to actively think or communicate in English until I settled permanently in the United States.

When I reflect on my journey in communicating my thoughts, I realize that one of my acutest problems is my surrounding environment. In my house, we all speak Spanish. I go to a church in Spanish. All activities in my neighborhood are in Spanish, including that bodega where I get my morning coffee. My environment has an adverse effect on my learning process that directly affects my ability to communicate my thoughts in English properly.

Since I moved to the United States, I constantly felt like two different people living inside my head. One when I speak my native language and another when I try speaking English. The English version is much shyer and edgy in the company of other people. The Spanish version, on the other hand, is all the contrary. A full talker who will go on for hours, confident, no shyness, and more importantly, it doesn’t give me that sense of being unnatural while I speak. That also happens in my writings. In Spanish, the words pour out of me. The frustration of this feeling of being unable to express me fully is one of my most daunting challenges and one that I’m committed to overcoming.

A turning point that set me back was this one experience I had in my first job where I had for the first time to communicate in English. The application where I was supposed to select my schedule was not working properly, so I had to communicate this problem to HR. I spent days thinking in my head about the proper way to express it. I even used the google translator and wrote the sentence on paper, going from Spanish to English. However, when I was in front of the HR person, I suffered a mental breakdown. This experience was shocking for me, being unable to properly express my thoughts in one specific language when my whole mind is full of unspeakable words.

A language is much more than words. Language is something deeper. Your surroundings, friends, the family can lead you to a different way of thinking. This thinking defines your language. This language is your system of expression. Something simple as reading, watching a movie, or listening to music can allow you to start to develop a metacognitive world to live in, where everything is bound to your language.

In this process of connecting my thoughts with language, I’m discovering I must become a child again. Learn how they do. Let me be free, that part of me who shows my true colors. Do feel unafraid and eventually let the words feel right in my head, mouth, and writings.

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