Films and My Pride – My French Woes, Part 2

So. Imagine you’re kind of blind. how many fingers am I holding up? (No, I’m joking, I’m just trying to be humorous and failing miserably)

Not totally blind, though if that’s easier, you can. You’ve got no sight in your right eye at all, and you can see light out of your left. A few shapes, and some contrasting colours. Enough to be considered some, but not enough to be considered useful. And usually, it doesn’t bother you; it’s just a thing that is, like having a leg or not having a leg.

Now, imagine you’ve started your French AS Level. All good so far. You love the language, because it’s beautiful. Except it’s not so beautiful when you don’t have a functioning dictionary because they don’t produce them in Braille, and you don’t know how good the dictionary apps are.

Imagine that, for your French AS Level, you’re studying a film for the first year. Oh, you’re studying family and other bits of culture too, but your second exam is about film and the cinema. Okay, you think, before all your lessons start. I’ll figure out a way to do this. Somehow.

I wish I could imagine it. Often, I don’t care about this. Sight or the lack of it doesn’t impede my other lessons – not seriously – and I’m not pretending that I cry about it. It’s just what I’ve had all my life, but now, I’m feeling ill.

I don’t know what to do. I finished my essay on “What makes an unforgettable film?” two hours ago, and I hated it. Writing it was a chore, something I’d delayed and delayed for four days. Sentences wouldn’t come to me, and I had to look up so many words; my brain fogged over and I couldn’t concentrate. I had no excuse: my other homework went on the backburner because I was so stressed about the French, which turned out rubbish anyway. I haven’t done the history for tomorrow, and I wish I could blame it all on the French.

The worst part about this is the film, by far. We’re starting it after the October half term, and until then, we’re getting vocab. Vocab that NEVER goes in, even when I try reading it and saying it aloud after the lesson. Today in class, we – THEY – watched a short film. I had a blank look on my face, not registering the girl saying sorry to me for not describing it. It was fine, I thought. It was explained after. My head hurt from trying to listen to the fast French, and from just trying and trying and TRYING.

But a whole entire FILM? They (ugh I’m acting like they’re separate from me but they aren’t) can watch it, with subtitles. Understand it: what they’re saying, what’s happening. I HAVE no subtitles. I’ll have to get the script, pretty much memorise the gist of it, then get someone to describe it – whilst trying to keep up with what they’re saying. Oh shit yeah, and I’ll have to translate the script. Unless, that is, I can find another solution.

I wish they’d let us study the book this year, rather than the film. However, I should have KNOWN what I was getting into; I’m honestly feeling like this it my fault because I didn’t look at the course enough, I’m neglecting all my homework, my work attitude is terrible at the moment and I’m lazy.

After only three weeks of school, I’m surprised at how badly I’m coping. I don’t want to do twice the work everyone else has to do. Can’t I just be bitter by myself and cry for twenty years? No, because I have to pick myself up. I have to fight through the fog and not howl about how fucking unfair life can be.

Thinking about French genuinely makes me want to sob. I thought it would be so much more than it is, so much… Easier to deal with. I knew it would be difficult, because the jump from GCSE to A-Level is massive, but not this. Not me scrabbling to try and keep up, though the addition of another girl into our class makes it a little better. 5 of us, now.

Other blind people have done language AS levels. If I fail at this, I feel like I’m a bad blind person – like if others could do it, why can’t I? Never mind that I over-stress myself a lot; I’d feel so ashamed if I abandoned it. But my thoughts are in a jumble and I can’t get them out properly.

I went to the unit today (place where the teaching assistants who help the visually impaired kids work). They could see on my face something was wrong, and the woman who prepares my french work came and talked to me. My eyes felt too dry, too wide, as I explained to her that I didn’t know if I could do this. The teachers sometimes don’t send me the right work, and sometimes they move so fast and it’s all stacking up. My heart feels heavy and panicky.

I know that I won’t realistically drop French. I’ll stick with it, even if it breaks me. The thought of dropping it makes me feel sick, because of some warped sense of pride? I have to prove to myself that I can do 4 As-Levels. I’ve been encouraged to do 3, but I just DON’t want to; if I only do 3, I won’t have the chance to drop one at the end of year 12. It’s partly the shame of telling the teacher I don’t want to do it any more, because though I know I haven’t, it makes it like I’ve failed before I even started.

I think I should talk to the teachers about this. I need to ask HOW I’ll do this film, dealing with their pitying tone. I hate asking for help, because it makes me cry and I don’t want to shed tears over this. Then again, if I haven’t broken down by the beginning of half term, I’ll be surprised.

If it gets too bad, I’ll drop it, but I really don’t want to. I just don’t know if I can cope. I know I should put my mental health first, but I want to succeed because I do love French. Detrimental? Yeah, but what else can I do?

I feel like I’m drowning, like there’s something blocking my mind from getting a good work ethic. I’m ashamed, stupidly, though there’s nothing to be ashamed of. If I just worked harder, made more of an effort to do work outside class, I might feel like I can get to the end of the year. When I say I feel upset, I don’t just mean sad; I mean that I feel as if my work is going to swallow me alive.

It’ll get better. I feel trapped, like I’m on this bleak road to nowhere, but it’ll get better. I have to hold onto that because I’m so stressed that I could scream.

Remembering that other people have it worse gets me through it. There are other blind people who don’t get the resources at all, or couldn’t do the A-Levels they want. Compared, I have it easy and i admire those people so much. That’s why it’ll have to be okay, so that I can stop whinging. Ugh, why am I going into self-loathing mode again?

How are you guys? I’m sorry for ranting again.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚


38 thoughts on “Films and My Pride – My French Woes, Part 2

  1. Honey you’re going to be fine. Try not to stress too much, though I know it’s going to take power to do that, and I know I saying that you’re going to fine might not necessarily make you “fine”, but I want you to know that you’re going to get through this. You love the subject, and since you’re not going to give it up, you’ll do your very best and not slack in other subject. I think doing four subjects is a really brave move, and you’re going to do well. Just try not to think about the difficulties too much. Take it one at a time.

    • You give such great advice, you know that? Thank you! πŸ™‚ Honestly I’ve calmed down a lot now, but I’m still a LITTLE panicky. Your help is so so appreciated ❀

  2. ugh french is difficult for me and i have all my sight. okay i don’t have the best vision, my glasses are thicker than kim k, but still, i’m not blind. i feel for you, wow, languages, they’re just not fun at all. keep on working at it though and i’m sure you’ll figure it out. and seriously don’t feel bad for asking teachers for help, that’s a lesson i learned way too late in life. and hey, you got this far! you can do it if you keep working at it. i believe in you! much love xxx

    • Thank you SO much; you are lovely! Your encouragement makes me feel better about things. I’ve always had issues asking for help, but I’m working on it; I just hate feeling humiliated. I want to do better, but that’ll only come about by practicing. And yes languages are so hard!

      • i always used to hate asking for help too, but a little while ago I realized that it makes teachers feel like they’re being helpful. i’ve made many a teacher friend just by asking questions in class and starting conversations- which really helps with college apps and recommendation letters as well. and you are very welcome, you are so sweet as well and i love your blog so much πŸ™‚

  3. I don’t know what to say. I’m not going to pretend to understand because I most certainly don’t. All I can do is send you a big virtual hug and tell you you’ll find a way to make things work out. You always do. Good luck.
    -Dani ❀ πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much, Dani. You are a wonderful person, and I want you to know that you have ALWAYS encouraged me and made me feel better about how I do things. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand – you’re listening, and that means more than anything. Thank you ❀

  4. Seriously Elm. It’s time to talk sense into you once more. You are not a “bad blind person” it’s perfectly okay to be struggling with something and I’m sure you will do well. Also however I feel it’s best to do 3 a levels because you only get uni offers (should you wish to go there) based on three and so I do think they have a point when they say to do 3. But yeah as I’ve already told you I’m there should you need any help since I’m not finding much of a difference between GCSE and A level.

    • Honestly, I might need it – you are so good at advice and basically everything to do with french so I trust you loads (of course) πŸ™‚ Thank you. Yeah, I know realistically I’m not a BAD blind person, but it takem me a while to get that in my head. I should manage though! I HOPE.

  5. You’re going to be okay, you love French, and that’s going to motivate you through the course. The teacher isn’t right just leaving you with the double work, and she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, it’s unfair on you. We all know that you’re going to get through it, take it slow, go at your own pace until you feel confident, and you’ll get there ❀

    • Ahh, I really hope so! Thank you so much πŸ™‚ Yeah, I don’t think it’s fair either. I just have to convince myself that telling the teacher that could be a good idea. Your support is REALLY appreciated!

  6. Dear Elm,
    You cannot blame yourself for that. Everyone struggles with things. You should ask for help. First, tell yourself that it’s okay and normal not to get stuff; it’s okay, it doesn’t indicate a lack of intelligence. If anything, asking for help indicates your commitment to learning. They SHOULD do the best they can to accommodate you, and they will do their best. Hold on. *hugs*

    • Hyoung, thanks so much! πŸ™‚ Convincing myself that I’m worth the help is the first step, but I’m getting there. One hurdle at a time, after all! Today wasn’t great because my essay was used as an example for the class, because it was the only one that had been marked so far. But oh well!

      • Loads of hugs your way. I know exactly what it’s like to screw up an oral presentation in a foreign language. It sucks, and you never forget it. (This sounds like it should have a happy ending. It doesn’t). πŸ˜€

  7. I totally get it! My pride gets me into situations like that all the time, and by the time I realize I’ve messed up and taken on too much, I’m already drowning under piles of assignments. I’ve finally started to get over that this year, and I’ve learned to just tell the teachers how and what I can and can’t do up front. At the beginning of the year, I give them a checklist of how to adapt things, and that way whenever they do something wrong I can send them back to number whatever on the list. I used to hate films too, but doing this has made it where films are out of the question for me. They either have to give me reading or a much shorter video that I can memorize in a reasonable amount of time. And you are NOT a bad blind person! All blind people are different and have had different levels of training, therefore we aren’t cookie cutter people anymore than sightlings are! I do understand where you’re coming from with that though. I feel terrible a lot of the time because my cane skills are crap and I wouldn’t trust my self to walk a city block alone, but I’ve got friends who could probably go anywhere they wanted. Hope everything gets easier soon! I know dropping a class would be much better on you stress wise, but I know why you want to stick with it. It’s the same reason I decided I could handle a full schedule this year and am now paying for it in stress and no free time. πŸ€—

    • AHHHHH the thing is, you FULLY understand where I’m coming from and that means so much! My mobility skills are awful so I understand you too. But we’ll get through this, and we can scream together if things go HORRIBLY wrong. Ugh, I’m just so stressed – but thanks so much for the support!

  8. Elm, it’s clear you love French and really want to carry on with it and why shouldn’t you? You earnt your place on the course and are more than capable of being there. πŸ™‚ I can see the whole situation with the film is frustrating you and perhaps the reason why you feel like your struggling to keep up with French? Either way, I think it would be a really good idea to talk to your French teacher. Don’t feel ashamed for asking for help because we all need a helping hand from time to time and your teacher is they’re to help you do your best and make sure the course works for you. Maybe you could wait behind after lesson one day and have a quick chat with them, or even send them an email – it doesn’t have to be face to face. πŸ™‚

    • That’s a wonderful idea – I definitely NEED to do that. I think it’s best that I get help now, rather than waiting it ouen Thanks so much for understanding and always giving amazing advice! πŸ™‚

  9. Aw Elm, you’re so strong and I’m so proud of you for being determined to stick with it! I can only imagine how hard it must be for you being visually impaired. Keep going, and remember that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself sometimes – it IS harder for you than other people, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about feeling bad for yourself about it! ❀️

    • I hope so. Thanks for always being here, Alice πŸ™‚ It’s just difficult to remember NOT to feel whiny if I get upset about it all. I suppose if anyone thinks that I’m being stupid then I shouldn’t be friends with them. You’re awesome, by the way xx

      • Exactly – anyone who thinks you’re being stupid doesn’t deserve you as a friend! And aww thank you xx

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