Upon moving to Vietnam, I quickly learned about the way in which native-English speakers experience the Vietnamese language… Most simply give up. It’s too tough. “No matter how many days, months or years I study, most Vietnamese people don’t have a clue about what I’m attempting to say. What’s the point?” I could certainly see that perspective. Initially I hadn’t planned to really even try to learn Vietnamese other than the bare minimum of what I needed to get by in Central Vietnam where not as many people speak English.
It became clear that there was an expectation that we take language lessons – I immediately started to feel pressure. The performance anxiety started to peek through. I began to think, “hey wait, this is not what I planned to spend my time on while living in Vietnam.” However, I also was aware that by trying to learn the language, as basic as the level may be, it would really help me feel more connected to the local people.
Through the orientation provided within the first month of living in Vietnam, we gained 12 hours of Vietnamese language lessons spread over 6 days in 2-hour increments. The very first class we dove right into learning the tones and basic pronunciation of vowels and consonants. I felt awkward, intimidated and slightly overwhelmed.
It was at that moment of awareness that I had a choice. How would I approach learning this very challenging language? What attitude would I choose to have around this opportunity? The word FUN entered my mind immediately. I thought, “why not?” Given that the language is this difficult for so many native English-speakers – with 6 tones, new letters, and challenges with Vietnamese people understanding the simplest of words and phrases spoken by foreigners – what else is there other than to have fun with it? So that is my intention. That is my choice. That is my mindset. I’m going to have a blast learning Vietnamese.
And so it can be with various parts of our lives. Is having fun a choice or does it just “happen?” In my experience both can be true. And yet, what an empowering mindset to realize that as individuals we can create fun – even in circumstances that are truly difficult and challenging. So let’s take a moment to consider what areas of life might initially seem overwhelming, impossible, painful, challenging, or frustrating? How in this moment might you reframe the situation to see how the lens could be shifted fun? How might your approach, your energy, and your way of being be altered with this shift in your mindset? What new opportunities might now exist inside this specific area of your life? My hope for myself and for each of you is that we discover the space to create and choose fun today!