Economic Miscommunication

One of my biggest fears is that people aren’t understanding me; that somehow even though we’re speaking the same language and using the same words, my response comes off as too slow, or odd, or misunderstood. I think considering that I have this fear, what I’m doing right now is somewhat odd. I’ve placed myself in a foreign country for five and a half weeks, I’m still learning the language, food, expressions, and culture and right now it’s hitting me, this fear of miscommunication.

I’m in Fukuoka, Japan visiting my LDR fiance. I will be in Japan for a total of five and a half weeks this summer and I’m in my second week right now. Unfortunately my fiance had to do a work thing in Osaka, so I’m spending the week with his parents. They’re very nice and gracious and very accepting, which I’m so grateful for, but obviously communication is a little bit of an issue. I’m still learning Japanese and his parents are studying English, but most of our conversations are done in Japanese – which I’m so happy about because, my SO and I usually speak in English, so this is really good practice for me.

But I guess I have too much pride, so that’s why I’m feeling this way today. I pride myself in being a good reader, at times I can write well, and if I have something to say I know I can use the correct vocabulary. I’m a word nut when it comes to English, but now I’ve stuck myself in a place where even writing my own name is foreign to me. My biggest fear is coming to the surface because even though I’m at a level where I can understand what’s going on around me, I take so long to reply that I feel like I’ve disrupted the flow of the conversation. I’m so grateful for the help around me, at the same time I feel crushed from not being able to read how to work a microwave, or a bathtub, or a toilet (this is Japan, the toilets are something to behold).

I have this same feeling when I study economics too. I understand what’s going on, but when I try to relate and explain it to somebody else I can feel their eyes gloss over. Again, it’s my fear sprouting up in places that I love, but are also so vulnerable for me. I love Japan and it’s language and culture, I also love economics with its intricacies and inherent humanness, but all of this is so hard to describe. I’m constantly afraid of stepping into the conversation because of how long it takes me to form a coherent idea, and not just a coherent idea, but something that’s fluid, malleable by other people. I want to work together with other people in Japan and in economics.

I can imagine at this point though that this feeling is quite common among international economists, university teachers, researchers. They’re all trying to convey these really intricate ideas in a simple way to describe the world and how it works.

In a weird, terrible, interesting, heart pounding way I’m realizing that I’ll have to be facing this fear for the rest of my life because of the occupation I’ve chosen. But I hope in some small way that through my struggles I can someday help other people not have fear when it comes to understanding what economists say. I hope that someday I can help people hold a malleable piece of economics that they can use in their everyday lives. I hope they’ll be able to understand me, when that time comes.

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