I admit it: For the first few weeks here, I thought the Japanese for "excuse me," which is sumimasen (sue-me-ma-sen) was actually "sushimasen," which I think would mean something along the lines of "I am sushi" (Do not quote me on that; I know very little of Japanese sentence structure at the moment).
I admit that I actually used "sushimasen" a few times before realizing my mistake.
And I admit that I was very embarrassed that I did so in crowded areas, getting some very strange looks from the Japanese around me.
And I am telling you this because I think one thing that anyone, not just those living in foreign countries, not just those traveling outside of their home - anyone and everyone - has to be willing to do is make mistakes. You have to be willing to step out there and make a foible, to make a fool of yourself, to be on the receiving end of some strange looks, if you want to get anywhere.
And it's one of the hardest damn things to do.
One thing that is terrifying for any new teacher is making mistakes. Because you are entrusted with these students' education, you have the inexorably heavy burden of making sure you don't screw them up permanently. That is, if you choose to think about it like that. If you choose to think of teaching as passing on this medicine ball burden of knowledge and how to do things correctly, you're going to collapse by the end of the second week.
But, if you choose to look on it as a learning curve - not everyone is going to be Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, and not everyone should be. One thing that I've learned, especially through my time here in Japan (a mere seven weeks at this point), is that if you're afraid to make mistakes in your teaching, then you will end up not passing on knowledge, but rather solidifying in the kids' minds that school is boring, routine, and not worth spending time on.
And sometimes that means a day wasted in the classroom because a lesson plan didn't pan out. That might mean having to repeat yourself. That might mean being willing to try out a different approach, and failing.
The point is: You never know until you try.
You never know if you can fly if you don't try to jump every once in a while.
Tired, cliche, and probably confusing post finished.