I feel extremely fortunate every time I recall the conversation I had later with my English teacher, Jim, about my first English essay. Had I not been brave enough to ask for further feedback, I would have not have been able to restore my confidence in my writing--or to find the balance between writing in different languages in such a short time.
The topic and the form of that essay have been a blur to me, but I can never forget Jim's comments on that piece of writing. When I went to his office and expressed my depression and anxiety, the first thing Jim did was to assure me that he could tell I was a good writer.
“You have done a good job identifying your audience and choosing an appropriate tone, and your logic is also excellent.”
With an encouraging smile on his face, he said to me, “I know it must be a huge transformation for you to write in a different language, but in fact you are pretty good at English grammar. I think the only thing you need to do is to try to think and write as a native speaker.”
“But how can I achieve this? I don’t think I can master English that soon.” I replied with depression.
“Well, the first thing you can do is don’t push yourself to use big words. Reasonable word choice is what makes a piece of writing fluent. You should enjoy the process of writing, instead of thinking hard about how to insert some fancy vocabulary into your work.”
“Remember, you are a talented writer. But sometimes, we only need to become our better selves step-by-step.”
I was suddenly enlightened that I had been pushing myself too hard because I wanted to maintain my good academic performance so badly. This attitude led to fear, especially in writing, which had been my best subject. Then the fear of writing in a different language and the purpose of receiving a good grade overwhelmed me, and as a result, I lost the joy in creating my own work. How could my writing reflect truthfully what was in my mind and have a soul if I wrote with apprehension? How could I keep falling in love with writing if fear and pressure destroyed my enjoyment of writing? Without a doubt, Jim's advice to move “step by step” was what I needed to bear in mind – maybe not only in writing, but also in every other aspect in my life.