Do you ever see a person and think they’re the coolest person you’ve ever seen?
I’m writing this email from a cafe near my apartment that I love. And there’s a guy sitting at the table opposite.
My new non-sexual man-crush.
He’s old enough to be my dad (not that that makes any difference).
Black casual suit, with a crazy art t-shirt.
Rings, badges down the lapel of the jacket, jewellery and eye-liner.
damn, he looks GOOD.
I’m not going to take a picture, because personally, I think that’s super rude. But the whole impression is of someone who has the most amazing stories to tell.
When I was younger, I was into some pretty extreme fashions. I used to wear eyeliner, all black and with some pretty crazy hairstyles. I’ve had it green, pink and ever colour in between. I’ve had dreadlocks, braids and at one point plastic tubing.
Sometime around the point I finished art university, met my now ex-wife and got married and had kids I lost interest in the kind of goth-rock “alternative” lifestyle, and I stopped caring about things like that. I also think I started caring more about how people saw me — possibly a byproduct of living in Japan, where—and I’m sorry to say this—people give far too much of a shit about “keeping up appearances”. I was concerned that people saw me as a responsible dad, a husband and a diligent worker.
And I’m still those things now.
I no longer live with my kids—which I don’t love, but it was better than the alternative for everyone—and I’m no longer an employee.
But when I see people comfortable in their own skin?
Different to the so-called-norm?
I love it.
Well, I’m defiantly still different from the norm.
But everything I’ve said above has a lesson to be learned for you, speaking English as a second language.
You’ll never be a “native speaker” because the very definition of “native” is born into a country and its culture. You can be highly-proficient, or “native-like” but you can’t be native simply because the word actually has nothing to do with how good at English you are.
But that’s a GOOD thing.
You have your own culture, your own stores to tell, and a different perspective — and THAT is huge. It far outweighs the fact you might still make mistakes (although that can be fixed), and it far outweighs the fact you may speak with an accent (something which I don’t think you should fix, though you should aim to be clear and easily understood).
Understand other cultures.
But don’t be them.
That’s not you, and it shouldn’t be. Because you have other things to offer.
If this sounds like an approach that fits with your way of thinking, you can and should consider enroling in MEFA this month, which is now open for enrolment.
The place to go is here:
Dr Julian Northbrook