I played tennis this morning, and my opponents turned out to be two Koreans (their names first gave it away, then I heard them conversing amongst themselves in Korean). The whole match, I tried to build up the courage to say something in Korean to them, but my shyness got in the way.
I had pretty much decided that “한국 사람이죠?” would be a good way to randomly start a conversation, but I just kept putting it off until it was too late. With a “Well, it was fun playing with you” and a handshake, I slunk away feeling like a coward.
This has happened to me several times. I’ll be around Koreans and sit there and think about a good way to insert myself and my Korean knowledge into the conversation, but I let my fear of sounding like an idiot or not understanding their response stop me.
I think the reason I’m so scared is because I’m such a perfectionist. I want to wait until I’m perfectly fluent to actually interact with anybody. The problem is, I have to practice speaking and interacting in real life situations in order to become that awesomely fluent speaker. I can’t just hide away at a desk with a textbook and expect to suddenly be able to converse with ease without feeling nervous.
Next time I’m in a situation where I have the opportunity to break out my Korean skills, I hope I’ll make the most of the chance to practice. I need to get over this shyness before I’m in Korea next summer!