Multilingualism is an acquired skill that relatively few possess. To the professional world, it is an asset; placing your achievements in an exclusive list of privileges, or so I am told. It is often described as a treasure to be exploited in any way possible. There are only two kinds of reactions: The ones who ask question after question, hoping that you will end up confessing that it was all made up. Then there are the ones who automatically conclude that your life must be great; they are genuinely amazed by your skills while at the same time refusing to get over it.
To me, a multilingual mind under the spotlight can be a hell of an emotional roller coaster.
Ever been on a roller coaster? There is a thrill that comes with that ride; the thrill of being over your fears and totally under its control. What could you possibly do if this ride went totally wrong? Not much. If the screws decided to fall off mid-ride, apart from screaming at the top of our lungs, there isn’t much to do, strapped to our death bed or should I say seat. Being trapped in a multilingual mind is pretty much the same as being strapped in that roller coaster riding to hell.
I often fantasize my mind and myself as two different people. We would probably end up like those messed-up couples who can’t stop arguing and disagreeing with each other. To others, it probably would seem like a good opportunity to place bets on when and how we would kill each other, but us, it’s just a normal way of showing affection.
It never struck me as weird or skilled to have the ability to communicate in different languages until I came to Canada. Mostly because it is a normal thing for me to have these skills, to fit in with my society and peers back at home. It is not considered an asset but a must that all children grow up with. I remember my first conversations with people with similar skills and how it changed my perspective on the subject. For the first time, I realized it was not only me who had trouble transitioning from one language to another. It is a process of the brain. The process of transition of thoughts from one language to another and it is this transition period that blurs every thought in between into the inability to think.
A feeling of being lost.
Yushra Khodabocus is a second-year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College. She is originally from the tropical island of Mauritius, where her love of words was inspired by the various languages she grew up speaking. She is passionate about writing and reading and strongly believes in the right to speak and be heard.