Why I Gave Up On A Lifelong Passion (Money Is One Reason)

After getting burned out from blogging in my 7th month, I realized many things about myself.

Part of me was happy that I had finally found something that I’m passionate about – writing about frugality.

Blogging has helped me stop questioning my daily productivity and my purpose in life.

Prior to launching the site, I often asked myself what business I wanted to start and run for the rest of my life.

I had always dreamed of owning my own company.

When I realized that my blog was growing and that I could monetize it one day, I was super excited and energized.

I spent at least 3 hours on my blog every single day whether it was a weekend or a weekday (25-30 hours/week).

After 7 months, I had spent roughly 1,000 hours on my blog.

If I get paid $30/hour, it’s $30,000 that I had invested in the site without seeing any actual revenue, let alone profit.

But it wasn’t the lack of money that stopped me, it was the feeling of resistance that stopped me from spending so much time on this endeavor.

I decided to slow down and spend $15-20 hours/week blogging.

For me, it was either that or I would stop blogging altogether, and I didn’t want the second option.

While I was burned out from writing content, I once again questioned my productivity and life purpose. I have a job I want to advance and a family to take care of. But I wanted to find something that’s both fun and something I want to do for the rest of my life even after I retire.

I once thought it was blogging. Now I wasn’t even sure anymore. What is is that I’m passionate about?

After some soul searching, I thought back on what I was passionate about before. And there’s one thing I have been interested for most of my life: learning foreign languages.

I once dreamed of becoming a polyglot – something who’s fluent in multiple languages. And that was all I wanted to do with my free time. I was obsessed for years.

My mother tongue is Vietnamese. That’s the language I’ve spoken all my life. I started taking English seriously in school in 7th grade (age 12) and fell in love with it.

English was just a subject I learned in school for less than 6 hours a week. After coming to America, I started learning Japanese, Spanish, and then Chinese.

I started to listen to some polyglot podcasts interviews and resumed learning Chinese Mandarin. But the passion is no longer there. I started to question myself why that is. And here are the reasons:

1. Mastering a foreign language is difficult.

Being a polyglot used to be one of my obsessions.

The only foreign language I am fluent in is English. I can speak basic Chinese Mandarin with my in-laws, but I can barely write.

I don’t even want to think about how many elective courses in college I used to learn Japanese and Spanish. I can tell you the number right now: 11 courses.

Can you imagine what I could have learned about other fields if I were less obsessed with Japanese and Spanish in college?

The worst thing is even after spending 4 years learning Japanese and 1.5 years learning Spanish, I can barely speak either of them. It’s really frustrating to me since I have little to show for all of those expensive courses and my time.

If you are not living in the country where the language is spoken, it might take you years to be fluent in it. And worst yet, you might never be fluent in it at all. That’s why so many people give up learning a foreign language.

It might take months and even years before you can see any progress. It’s similar to when you’re paying off debt or saving for a house. You want to see the outcome right away, but the progress is snow and sometimes even painful.

At one point, you might even want to give up altogether. Even when you feel like you’re making great progress with the language or your debt payoff, there might come a point where everything just plateaus.

You get tired all the small steps and want to stop halfway. And that’s exactly what many people do, myself included. And that’s how they never master a language or be able to pay off their debt. Giving up is the end to all efforts and processes.

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2. Low return to investment

I haven’t seen much return to my investment in learning different foreign languages except for English and Mandarin Chinese.

Maybe I’m just not smart enough, but that investment of time and money doesn’t scream a high rate of return to me.

I sure learned a lot about different cultures and got to try different foods. But at the end of the day, I have nothing to show for my efforts.

I can no longer list them as my language skills on my resume since I don’t want to look clueless when my job interviewer starts speaking to me in Japanese or Spanish, which unfortunately has happened before.

I got the internship offer, but it just goes to show how unimportant Japanese and Spanish have been in my job hunt.

Every time I think about the countless hours I spent slaving myself over the wish of being a polyglot, I cringe a bit. For me, it wasn’t time well spent. And worst of all, I don’t think it was time well invested.

I could have picked up a few more part-time jobs to make more money, taken more specialized courses that would help my job applications, or simply spent more time making new friends.

Instead, I locked myself up in a room with a book and some movies to practice language skills. Maybe it was just a bad strategy. Those hours might have helped me get those A’s that I needed. But I don’t see any benefits at the moment.

RelatedThe Benefits & Challenges Of Raising Multilingual Children

3. Limited income potential

I do care about my income potential.

When I took an English Literature course in college (I can’t remember if it was required or not), the professor suggested I consider a major or minor in English.

Though flattered, I wasn’t sure if it would be a good decision.

I was an Economics major at the time and thought that it would be better for my job prospects.

I talked to my friends about it, and all of them advised me against that decision.

But most importantly, it wasn’t the route I wanted to pursue. What would I do after graduation with a degree in English? I know it could be a great field for many Americans. But I was an international student.

I’m not a native English speaker. The only thing I could image myself doing was teaching English, which I wasn’t passionate about.

Also, in order to major or minor in English, I would have to take a series of advanced writing classes, which I wasn’t passionate about either.

I did not and still do not like writing. Sometimes I’m still amazed that I’ve managed to write so much content on my blog. Writing is something I’ve always dreaded doing. I can’t picture myself writing for a living. I would wake up in the morning hating myself and my life every single minute of the day.

If I majored in English, I didn’t even know if I could get a job in the US. My one and only option might just be going back to Vietnam and teaching at some English language centers, which I didn’t want to do.

And the same goes for further studying Japanese and Spanish. One time my friend suggested I studied Linguistics. But I honestly didn’t know what I would do with that major other than teaching languages in Vietnam, where I’m from.

I’m glad stuck with an Economics degree which has opened a lot of doors for me both academically and professionally in America.

Conclusion

In writing this post, I don’t want you to think that I gave up on learning foreign languages just because of money. When I was obsessed with English, Japanese, Spanish, and later Chinese, I didn’t even think much about making money from such endeavors.

I decided to learn them because I was a language enthusiast. Later on, I realized, however, that being able to master a language is a long journey which I am no longer interested in pursuing.

After getting married, my priority has always been to work hard and provide for our family, especially our son. The only foreign language other than English I’m still practicing with my mother-in-law every day is Mandarin Chinese.

If I have free time now, I want to do something that can later generate an income for us, and that includes blogging. I love blogging. But if it couldn’t turn it into a side business, I’m not sure if I would spend 25-30 hours/week writing content and promoting my blog.

Money is not something I should prioritize. But after spending 22 years in school, I now have little patience for doing something merely out of passion.

My passion for foreign languages and even a PhD program ended a long time ago.

Now when I do something, it should be something I love. But even when the passion is no longer there, at least I know I will still be able to provide for myself and my family by doing it.

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9 thoughts on “Why I Gave Up On A Lifelong Passion (Money Is One Reason)”

  • I took Spanish all throughout high school and college. I speak it really well when I’m drunk…passable when sober. Does help as a Doc, but I wish I had a better grasp of the language!

  • I wish I could speak better Chinese. I’m pretty much retaining the vocab of a 3rd grader since I immigrated on the early side in terms of “fresh off the boat” goes.

    Learning a new language is a low reward for the endeavor in my opinion but I guess that depends on the language itself. I think knowing 3rd grader Spanish is good enough. I count knowing anything slightly above conversational as complete.

  • I so feel your pain. I’ve been blogging for 10 months now and I have barely made any money from it. It’s hard to keep doing something when you are not seeing the results that you want.
    It’s like being on a strict diet and not losing any weight. What’s the point?
    I’m trying to hang in there. From what I’ve seen, at least you get a lot of comments and engagement on your posts. I don’t get any of that. So it’s harder for me to stay motivated at blogging.
    I feel like I’m talking to myself whenever I publish a post.
    I’ve scaled back my hours on blogging as well. I still try and post twice a week but let’s see how long that lasts.
    Thanks for the post. Makes me feel less alone on this whole blogging thing.

  • Omg! I was obsessed about being a polyglot too!!! I find language and linguistics fun. I can speak basic Spanish after years of learning it as a foreign language in school. I think if I had 3 months of tots immersion I would be fluent. I can speak some German. A few summers ago I dedicated myself to learning German (Pimsleur audio lessons, Duolingo app, and German for dummies) and got good enough to hold simple conversations with family friends when a spent some time in Germany a few years ago. My wife is Vietnamese so I’m trying to learn a few things (but the differences in tonality is so hard for me!!!). Now trying to learn a little French. I’m not one of those natural language people, but I find it a fun challenge to grow that part of my brain. 🙂

  • I considered myself a polyglot too and loved learning different languages. But when I started trying to learn Thai, that passion completely died away. It was just too difficult!! Now I’m just back to 10 minutes of German on Duolingo every day. It’s my partner’s language, so I have a bit more motivation.

  • I consider myself a polyglot too. Grew up speaking Cantonese at home and English at school. Learned French at really young age. Was lucky enough to study in France during high school. I then studied Japanese, Spanish, and Mandarin during university. I learned German for a bit too. But I’d say I’m comfortable conversing in 5 languages (all the above minus the Japanese and German which I’ve basically given up on). Learning languages has always been a passion of mine but I never really used it to get me a job. So in a sense the return on investment is 0. But it’s helped me tremendously when I travel for meeting new people and getting myself out of sticky situations. Also to help people too! So I think it was a worthy investment of my time and I would never trade it off for the world!

    Thanks for this post!!!

  • Honestly, I don’t think passion alone can sustain someone for long. Where passion has waned, discipline must take its place. However, life is a journey of choices and consequences; we alone must decide if an endeavour is still worth pursuing once passion has left us.

    Regarding money and no fulfilment, I sincerely hope such an existence never happens to an amazing person like you. As someone who already walked that path, existing only for the pursuit of money is no existence at all.

  • Awesome, i only just started blogging and it’s very interesting hearing your thoughts as someone much more experienced. Definitely appreciate your perspective.

    I wish i could speak other languages, it seems so difficult to learn at this point 🙁

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