My Scars: a personal story about what language meant to me


At the end of the last animation, I asked
you to share your own stories of uneven understanding. Share you did, more than I could’ve imagined. We built one of the web’s
largest collections of asymmetric intelligibility stories right there in the comments! You also called me out. Could I maybe share something personal about
my journey into language? That’s something patrons have asked for, too. Since we have a bit of downtime, today’s a
good day to do that. In my life, there hasn’t just been one thing
that connected me to language. It’s been a bunch of small moments, little
experiences. Some of these end up in my videos, so I guess
keep watching to get the full story. But if I’m sharing personal experiences, it
might have to be this one. It’s not what I expected today, but there
are events… struggles… things in my earlier life I wouldn’t be here without. These are my scars. Literal scars at the time. It’s so superficial, but, as a kid, I was
kind of shy. It’s something I slowly grew out of thanks
to a happy family, team sports, great friends. Until I ran into that life wall called adolescence. That means different things to different teens. I got some of the normal awkwardness and acne,
but on top of that I began to get serious scabs and rashes and worse all over my face,
my hands, my neck… I tried to cover it up or at least play it
off. I couldn’t always find ways to cope. I’d make it through a school day and I’d rush
to be alone: study or draw or ride my bike off on my own. On tough days, I remember sitting behind bus
benches instead of waiting up front like a normal person just so my latest scars weren’t
out there for everyone to see. Why am I telling you this? Because it mattered. I was uncomfortable and struggling to find
worth in my own skin, and that made it tough to connect superficially. I had to look past my skin and lean on ways
I knew to connect on a deeper level. I did this with language. It helped me relate to people, people with
their own scars, people who, past and present, opened up and shared stories of languages
and cultures with me. They gave me riches more meaningful than if
I’d never had this struggle. Eventually, it took years, but eventually
I got a diagnosis: my skin was sensitive to fragrances. Laundry, deodorant, cologne, shampoo, hair
products, washing dishes, they were all leaving scars. I made changes and the scars healed. That’s what they do. I remember the day my mom helped me take off
my sheets and wash everything in fragrance-free detergent. I got to leave it behind, usually for my skin
and definitely for my mind. Clocks tick, scars fade. I get to make up for lost time. For the most part I’ve moved on, which is
one reason why these videos take a while. Yes, animation is a thing that takes time. I’ve learned how true that is. But there’s more to my story. In an effort to be a productive part of our
future world and pay for those handbaskets of food, I’ve been on my own years-long journey
to be a better programmer. Maybe a bit later in life than I expected,
but while you’ve been watching, I’ve been putting in the work: taking classes, getting
certified, coding projects. This balancing act doesn’t pay well, but in
many other ways it’s been rewarding. It even shapes the videos you watch. Now, the part of my journey that would become
NativLang is another story, one I shared with patrons, but I’m compelled to keep coming
back partly because of those earlier days when language distracted me from my scars. Well, I’ve talked about where I’ve been. What about you? What has language meant to you? Was there a little moment or a meaningful experience? I offer patrons much gratitude for all your
support, and thank you for sticking around and subscribing for language.

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