After yesterday’s depressing post, we will now return to our regularly scheduled (cheerful) programming.
Today’s topic: 화이팅!
The Korean word “화이팅!” (pronounced hwaiting, or sometimes spelled 파이팅 and pronounced paiting) is sort of a comprehensive term of encouragement for when one feels down, discouraged, or ready to give up. The term is Konglish: an English word that the Korean language borrowed, which usually means the pronunciation, and sometimes even the meaning, is different from the original English. In this case, it’s Konglish taken from the English “fighting” (but no, it doesn’t mean let’s start a fist fight). Korean doesn’t have an “f” sound, so they approximate it with either “hw” or “p.” (Try saying “hwaiting” a couple times without moving your lips or teeth much, and you’ll see how it can almost feel/sound like an “f.”)
I love this word. It actually does help if someone says it to you when you’re feeling down. I know from personal experience. My Korean co-teachers and friends have said “화이팅” to me when I had an open class approaching, for example, and it really did boost my courage.
And last summer, when I was visiting Korea with my tae kwon do school and we were at an intense training session with a local high school, one of the high school boys saw me struggling to breathe (um yeah that room was like 95 degrees and so humid that the mirrors were fogging up. literally) – so he raised his fist encouragingly and murmured, “화이팅!” I felt a smidgen less like death after that.
You can do it, don’t give up, keep trying, do your best, it will be OK, I believe in you – all of these phrases are encompassed by the simple “화이팅!” (often accompanied by a raised fist of encouragement).
The bestower of this phrase offers sincere sympathy and a sense of solidarity with the distressed party, while the recipient feels supported, motivated, able to go on or try again or whatever the case may be.
Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this topic is because I want to encourage anyone reading this that you really can do things that seem impossible or way too scary or way too difficult.
I remember about 3 weeks into teaching, I was walking home from school one afternoon feeling incredibly discouraged and near tears because I felt there was no way for me to reach some of the kids. I’d had a particularly difficult class that day, where it seemed that none of them would listen or understand me, and I felt useless and ineffective and helpless. No one likes feeling those things, so naturally I was upset. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to move past that point, that I would forever be an ineffective teacher who was wasting my school’s time, money, and space.
But you know what? I kept a “화이팅!” spirit. I didn’t give up. I pushed through and I kept trying to improve my lessons and think of different ways to reach out to the students. And things got better. I formed bonds with my co-teachers and my students. I figured out more effective ways to teach. I’m by no means perfect now, but things are much better than they were 3 months ago. Now I can look back and laugh at how clueless I was about teaching and about my students back then (and I’m sure I’ll say the same thing in 6 months about my current knowledge).
So… if you’re going through a rough time, please stop to look at all these GIFs and feel encouraged.
Don’t give up.
Oh, what’s that? The last GIF has nothing to do with ‘hwaiting’? Oops. Sorry. Got carried away. Google Imaging Korean celebrity GIFs is a dangerous thing.