A fresh start, a new goal, and a reflexion

It’s been 15 months since I last wrote in The Polyglotist.

During those 15 months, closing the blog crossed my mind several times. If you’ve read The Polyglotist since the beginning, you probably know that this has always been a passion project for me, born out of my curiosity and love for languages… and as such, its expenses have always come out of my pocket. However, about two years ago, my job as a freelance translator took a nose dive (that it actually hasn’t quite recovered from). As my savings dwindled, I had to spend more hours scrambling for work, pulling my attention from this blog so badly that I considered shutting it down…

…and it all likely was for the best.

“How can you say this?”, you might ask.

“Don’t you always say you love languages?”

I do. Few things stimulate my curiosity as much as the mystery of communication does, and in spite of the forced hiatus of almost a year and a half in my learning, hearing a new language in the street still automatically has me parsing it, trying to figure out what it is, and wondering how much it would take to learn it, what doors into the unknown it would open for me if I decided to delve into it. Languages have been a passion of mine from before I began The Polyglotist, and I suspect it’ll remain so until the end of my days. I am still in love with all things languages.

With that said, I have to be honest to you: for quite some time before I was forced to stop updating the blog, The Polyglotist was attempting to be something it wasn’t… something I wasn’t. In a mad race to carve a space for myself in a very competitive niche, I tried to force some profitability out of the blog, relying only on my love for languages and learning everything else along the way, all the while working full time and having almost no social life outside my language pursuits.

As you might suspect, I burned the candle from both ends, and ended up burning to a crisp myself as a result. I started dreading the time invested in languages, turned to questionably written guest posts from people who had little to nothing to do with the language community just to keep the blog going, and finally, once I realized that I was a minuscule fish in a literal ocean of language writers, and coming face to face with other very real personal issues, I ended up struggling with serious depression. I felt like I’d failed, and was ashamed that I was not capable of making The Polyglotist into something better than it was. Worst of all, I felt I no longer enjoyed this project. 

Here’s where the story of the past two years gets a bit strange, so bear with me, please.

After essentially shutting down emotionally, I spent a couple months drifting along. I’d wake up, work without any enthusiasm, look at my French books (the language I was focusing on at the time), think “maybe someday”, and go to bed. In an attempt to break the funk, I decided to buy a Playstation 4 and play some role playing games, just so I’d have something to stimulate my imagination. (As something I did before even elementary school, videogames are an old hobby of mine, although there’s a a huge gap in my “gaming historial” during between my teens and college years.)

Through the wonders of online game platforms, I discovered social gaming and found myself, quite suddenly and without warning, surrounded by people similar to myself, who in some way or another wanted to get to know me. I got to know some of them too, and gained some life-changing experiences and friendships along the way. I was able to share the insecurity and sense of failure I had with my newfound friends. It was these encounters that convinced me I needed help to unravel all the issues that had reduced me into apathy (and led me to abandon this blog), and so, earlier this year, I started frequenting a therapist.

The irony is both ineludible and delicious: I had to come to terms with my reality thanks to a machine I bought for escapist purposes.

So what does this mean for this blog?

Although The Polyglotist hasn’t been at the core of the self-healing process I’m currently undergoing, it is by no means exclusive to it.  Languages are a very important part of my identity, and in principle, The Polyglotist was meant to be nothing but the record of my experiences learning languages, so I don’t want to abandon it, but I also do not wish to continue in the same direction which led me to burn out and question my motivation for keeping the blog going in the first place.

That my professional life is inexorably tied to languages is not up for discussion. I’ve worked in translation for fifteen years now, taught Japanese for almost eight, and Spanish for four. I’ve written about languages from a number of perspectives (as a learner, educator and journalist) for a considerable stretch of The Polyglotist’s existence. I believe I have quite a few things to say about languages as a profession and as a passion, and this is what makes continuing this project worthwhile.

What I cannot fathom is holding myself to the same exhausting standard of leaping from language to language every few months, in search for new “learning secrets” (that could be interepreted as clickbait) and metainformation to put up on the blog. Curiosity alone is very poor motivation to learn a language, and I learned the hard way it is no way to sustain a language learning project. Furthermore, I refuse to perpetuate a cycle of bad, poorly written or rushed content for the sake of publishing something on a weekly basis.

In coming weeks or months, you’ll see a radical change happen on The Polyglotist:

  1. The kind of writing I’ll be doing on the blog will change big time: from now on, I’ll be focusing on sharing my experiences on working with languages from the variety of perspectives I know I can cover in an educated and productive way. This means no more language missions; I’ll be writing about teaching, translating, coaching, resource development, software relevant to the trade, etc.
  2. I will be cleaning up my published content, removing some of it and archiving the rest in such a way that it is still accessible, but no longer visible on the blog’s frontpage. (Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to search for these articles.)
  3. The aspect of the blog itself will change to accomodate these changes, and to allow for cleaner navigation of the website.
  4. Creating new, more interesting content about the languages I know, and how they affect my personal and professional life.
  5. I will not be updating the blog on a weekly basis anymore, but rather when I actually have something to say.

I’m looking forward to rebuilding this blog into something new, but above all, something true to myself, and I’d be thrilled if you stayed along for the ride.