It means confident.
It’s not the five different tones to execute correctly or even my limited amount of vocabulary that renders my tongue mute–it’s my lack of confidence.
I feel most comfortable to make mistakes in front of closest Thai friends, but it’s not as if I see those friends every day: I’m interacting with taxi drivers, store owners, the occasional pedestrian daily, I must be able to speak to others besides my closest friends if I want to become more fluent in Thai.
The tricky bit is living in Bangkok. It feels as though everyone (and their mother) wants someone to practice their English with, and given that I’m a native English speaker I usually turn into teacher in most social interactions.
It’s hard. I AM a teacher, it’s ingrained in me to what to help–Teacher’s Guilt–but sometimes even teacher’s crave to be students.
I used to pray for God to send me someone who had no interest in practicing English… I think He answered.
This holiday season I was able to get out of Bangkok for a while for a road trip to Chiang-Rai. It was phenomenal.
I could see stars.
For anyone living in a big city you know how otherworldly this experience is.
Anyway, on this otherworldly trip I met my lovely Thai grandmother, Khun Yaay.
She spoke to me in Thai the entire trip, and in normal speed. I didn’t understand a whole lot of what was said, but that didn’t phase her. She talked and I listened for the most part, but along the way there would be these magical moments where I opened my mouth and spoke.
New universes of color and light whirled off my tongue.
It was all there, the vocab, the tones, I just needed a push, a doorway to speak without the pressure of being perfect.
Since then I’ve been more confident in speaking Thai, I even had a conversation with the dessert and fruit ladies today! Usually our conversations only consist of polite smiles and my order, but today we talked of family and our holiday vacations. It was otherworldly.
I’m so thankful for finding confidence in Chiang-Rai.
I’m so thankful for finding Khun Yaay. ❤
P.S. I think I just needed a doorway, a gentle push.
I see them now, the stars whirling above Bangkok.