at my own pace




Hi, it’s Azusa.

The days are getting longer and it feels like spring has finally come! The snow has just started beginning to thaw in Canada. Through studying abroad, I recently realized that it is important to take small steps at my own pace, so I’m gonna talk about it today.


I never really felt that what I do every day adds up to make a big difference. Of course, there are a lot of old sayings about it, but I couldn’t really appreciate those words. But I came to notice the importance of persistently taking small steps and I feel like it’s started to have a different meaning within myself. I also noticed that I can be more kind to myself by keeping at these small steps at my own pace without being too hard on myself.


The reason I realized this is because I’ve been studying in Canada since last summer. Since I’m in the Department of English at my home university, I had taken some English classes; but since I came here, I’ve had to study everything in English, so I often thought about how I can keep up with my classes and improve my reading skills. What I realized eventually is that doing little things one by one is a shortcut. Since I use English for a long time every single day, I’ve started having moments where I forget a word that I previously memorized more often. Sometimes I eventually memorize the word after relearning it a couple of times or sometimes if I don’t use that word often, I end up forgetting it again. But when I made sure to take note of these words in a notebook and to look back on it, I noticed myself improving. During reading, there were moments where I would think to myself “I couldn’t remember this word before but I know what it means now!”, and now I can understand what my professors are saying during class a little better. When it comes to learning languages, it takes a long time to actually see your improvements so I often wonder if my English is really improving. Of course, compared to two or three years ago, I can tell that my English has definitely improved, but honestly, I can’t really see a difference between me today and me half a year ago. However, I realized that it is important to try to memorize new words and relearn words I have forgotten one by one every day, believing that my English is improving. I’ve started to think that the best thing for me is to work at what I can do now without pushing myself so hard.


I also thought that the same is true of other things outside of academics. For example, I didn’t like flying for a long time. But this year I’ve flown on a plane more frequently and became somewhat used to it so I don’t really dislike it now. I had never been abroad alone until about a year ago so I was worried about things going wrong with the luggage check-in and immigration at the airport. I sometimes felt nervous or down when people were not that nice, but as I went through these processes a couple of times, I came to be able to handle these situations better. Even if it’s not a big deal to others, having experiences that allow me to feel my improvements empowers me a little bit. And I’ve started to be able to see mistakes as not something negative but something that makes me feel like “It’s good to learn it now!”


I tended to think negatively but I noticed I don’t have to feel too down about it, and even if I make mistakes, I’ve started to be able to think “Things like that happen” or “If I make mistakes now, I could be better at this next time!” Although it often seems easy to make small efforts, I finally realized its importance and by taking those steps at my own pace, I feel like I’ve become more able to be kind to myself.


My study abroad is coming to an end and I’m gonna go back to Japan soon! I wrote some articles about studying abroad on honeyhands and when I look back on them, it feels like it was such a long time ago. There have been a lot of struggles and there are things I often regret and get mad at myself even now, but I tell myself that studying abroad is not a finish line and I’m motivated to continue to learn English. When I go back to Japan, the environment surrounding me is going to change but I want to try not to forget to take little steps every day at my own pace and also take care of myself. Have you ever reflected on your attitude towards something, or become more kind to yourself through reflecting?

Image by Azusa

English Edited by Kiara