I respect people who possess a high-level of Japanese proficiency the same way I respect people who are well-built. I don't respect the results of the effort so much as the discipline required to attain it. I can't deny that focus and perseverance are character traits I lack and thus envy in others because I've never maintained a focus on anything out of a desire to better myself — only out of fear of failure, a desire to escape or because I was coerced into it.

Just as shame about my body has occasionally encouraged me to buy weights and protein powder (which remain unused and in the cupboard), shame about living in a country and not knowing the language can also be a strong motivator. Shame has never worked for me in the long run, though.

After a lengthy on-off relationship with learning Japanese, I find it gets harder and harder to pick the books back up again. Most people realize the obvious: I live in Japan, learning the language means I can understand the culture better. The thing is, I didn't move to Japan for the culture. I moved to Japan after I graduated because I didn't know what else to do.