Honest post ahead:
In high school and college, speaking Spanish was a ton of fun! I didn’t have “off days,” I didn’t feel bad about my accent, and I never felt self-conscious! I thought I was pretty darn good at Spanish too. (In truth, I wasn’t half bad.)
That all changed when I first set foot in Spain in 2008. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t understand a lot of things. I got nervous when people gave me directions, nodding stupidly, and hoping they wouldn’t notice when I walked off in a direction opposite to the one in which they had told me to go. Vale became my favorite, end-the-conversation-NOW word. Every so often, a Spaniard would compliment my English, but I knew they were lying. They just had to be!
Slowly, through my years in Spain, I grew more confident in my abilities. I learned so many new words, phrases, and ways of speaking. My Spanish family is sometimes delighted when I say things like, ” … que no veas,” as though what I said was, indeed, la leche. There are good days, days when the words flow, and people don’t have to wait for me to spit out the word vitrocerámica (why can’t we just call it a fogón?). These days are when I feel most competent and fluent, the days I like (sometimes even love!) speaking castellano.
But lately, a lot of my days have been bad days. Why? It’s hard telling. It’s true that speaking Spanish has helped me in many ways, but I’m not the same person en castellano. In English, I’m witty, quick to make a joke. I like talking. In Spanish, I’m not quick to make any jokes, and sometimes I’ll just say nothing rather than make an effort to speak. Yep, seriously! I’d rather just shut up than make that relatively tiny effort. Is this sad? Am I the only one? If so, consider me pitiable. Another thing I hate: Spaniards mocking my accent (high schoolers—I’m looking at you!) or correcting me when I’ve not explicitly asked them to do so. (That’s just rude, isn’t it? I mean, I know agua is feminine, but we say el agua, so sometimes I mess up when I speak too fast. Stop correcting me as if I don’t know!)
Problem is, I know I shouldn’t hate speaking Spanish, that I should take advantage of my time here to speak as much as possible and learn from everyone. I even have my own personal intercambio at home! I’m quite lucky, in fact. But whenever I’m excited or angry or emotional or sad, I want to speak in English—because the words mean more to me, because I feel them more deeply. Mario accommodates this; sometimes he speaks back in Spanish and other times in English. When we argue, it’s in English, and I can’t help but feel grateful because arguing in Spanish is just the worst. Try having a debate with Spaniards and see how it turns out for you!
If it seems I’m grumpy, perhaps I am. It’s been one of those days.