One of the first things I ever learned about myself was that I am an introvert. My dad was really into the Myers-Briggs type indicator tests when I was a kid/teenager and he often told my mom and I how introverted we were.
So last week when Petra and I visited some friends in Zagreb and they had us sit down to take the Myers-Briggs test, I knew what the I vs. E result would be. What I soon realized was that the fact that I am introverted has some influence on my ability to learn a language.
1. "I am a very private person and I don't like a lot of attention...I really like solitude" That's what the M/B evaluation says. And I agree. Usually in solitude, I don't do a lot of talking - especially in another language.
2. I value deep relationships with few people more than surface-level relationships with a lot of people. I don't do well in groups. Here's the problem. For example, I began a conversation with a good friend of mine like this a few weeks ago without asking how he was, or commenting on the beauty of the day:
"So I was thinking about how in Philippians we are told to immitate Christ. But when you live in a nation-state (like Croatia or America) and in some ways feel it's part of your duty to defend your family, culture and tradition you are suddenly thrown into an environment where you may have the choice to act agressively towards another person for "good" reason. Jesus never did that. So to what extent are we to "humble ourselves" in the way Christ did given our present situation?"
My friend, even though he had better things to do, indulged me and we had a good conversation. But had I tried in Croatian, we would have been there all night. Sure, it's much easier to talk about the weather, the nice new doors on the church or my friend's haircut. But honestly, I don't care nearly as much about those things (unless we'll be playing baseball in the nice weather soon) as I do my question that would make me think and perhaps build a closer relationship with a friend.
Is this an excuse? Well, sort of, yes. But knowing yourself goes a long way to improving yourself. For me, learning Croatian means learning how to be more extroverted. Just thought you should know.