Learning Japanese can make you feel like a doofus. That’s okay. Feeling like a doofus now and then won’t hurt you.
I’m going to get all technical here for just a minute. Bear with me, because I have to do it to make my point.
I am (slowly and with great effort) reading Spirited Away in Japanese. Often, I get stuck and have to look stuff up. Of course, since this is Japanese, there are no spaces between the words, and that can be a problem.
Here is a phrase that I will admit to being stuck on: 友だちからもらった
Looking at it now, it is rather embarrassing to admit that I was stuck on it and had to look it up. It means “got from friends” or “received from friends”. I blithely wrote that down as a note and moved on. The next day, looking at the phrase again, I was forced to (figuratively) smack myself in the head.
Why did I have to look that up? Because, for some reason known only to my brain, I didn’t recognize the words that were staring me right in the face.
Here’s what I saw when I first looked at it: 友だち からもらった
からもらった? I don’t know that word…it must be a verb of some kind…but I can’t seem to find out…well, let’s cheat and just look up the whole phrase…
Of course, here’s what I should have seen: 友だち から もらった
Of course 友だちmeans friend, から means from and もらった is obviously the plain form past tense of もらう or, if you like, もらいますmeaning received. These words are all old friends.
In other words, I know every word in this phrase and I still didn’t recognize it when I found myself staring at it on the page. It obviously means “got from friends”.
This will happen to me again. This will happen to you.
And that’s okay.
Expecting perfection only leads to dismay, disappointment and frustration. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect yourself to do well, but it does mean that you can’t get too upset over making mistakes. Mistakes are just aids to memory. Messing up on something makes it easier to remember the correct answer the next time.
And that’s really my point. You will make mistakes in reading, writing and speaking. Just accept it, don’t let it bother you and move on.