Wrapping my head around Arabic


During a recent conversation over dinner, I mentioned that I would like to “wrap my head around Arabic by next year.” I started learning Arabic 2 years ago. It was a sporadic venture, intertwined with migraines, exhaustion and then a pregnancy. I had not gone beyond counting to 10 or conjugating verbs in one tense. I was frustrated at the non-progress, but did what I could. When Poo Loo Poo Loo was born, I decided to shelf the endeavour till another opportune time.

These days, I feel more in a rhythm with the baby and less spiteful of the role of being a mother. So, I wondered, perhaps after Chinese New Year, I could get back into some of my hobbies and classes. So I blurted out my wish for recommencing Arabic classes, which started from a motivation of wanting to travel in the Middle East.

My friend said, “you talk about the language as if you want to control it.”


My control freakiness manifests in obsessive compulsiveness, a stubborn need for predictability, and an abhorrence for chaos or changes in plans. It drives Timmie bonkas and frustrates him when I hug on to inflexibility for the sake of a feeling like I could control my environment – unless of course, I was the one who initiated changes.

In my defense, I would argue that I have improved over the decade. From a minute-by-minute itinerary when I travelled, I can now embrace a spontaneous road trip, or simply knowing how many days we would be in a city without mapping out all the locations for each day.

Yet, at the core, my system is destabilized and I become anxious when I do not know.

Finally, I have come to conclusion that this prerequisite of control sprouted from my CCRT of feeling like I am never good enough.

CCRT stands for “Core Conflictual Relationship Theory”, proposed by Dr. Howard Book, explains why we indulge in habits despite knowing that perhaps, those actions or thoughts are to our detriment. For instance, some people date a string of “wrong” people, and yet after multiple divorces, still go for the same type of person. Others are scared to try new things, some hide behind humour and sarcasm, and many more have their eccentricities.

What are our fears? I have read mountains of literature suggesting how we could overcome our fears. Perhaps, I hypothesize, at some point it is enough to accept that those are our fears and embrace them.

My ultimate fear is that I am not good enough, a constant reeling in my head that is the cornerstone of all my worries: my thesis would not attain Honours, I would mess up my kid, I am not doing enough as a parent, I am an inadequate wife and one day my husband would leave me, I would not get out of my pit, I would not find a job… because I am not good enough.

Most of the time these worries are, to most people, unfounded and out of proportion with reality.

I am cognizant of this perception and agree and I am unreasonably worried. Yet, I worry.

So, I do all that I can to be better in order to avoid these worst-case scenarios from becoming reality.

Thus, I try to control, for if I could control the circumstances, there would be less probability of accidents, and I would be marginally good enough.

Could I change this feeling of not being good enough? People say, focus on the positive, think of one thing to be grateful for everyday etc…

I do. But they do not dispel the worries. Nor the insecure obstinate thought of, “I am not good enough.”

Should I change? Why change? This is who I am. I am slowly coming to terms with this. It might sound fatalistic, but a CCRT is not something that is easily effaced from a system of habits built over 3 decades. I prefer to manage and cope with it, or at least, be aware that this wrath of “not good enough” is affecting my thoughts and actions. Indeed, Dr. Book said it might not be something that can be changed, but it could be managed.

In my head, I can control this CCRT. As my friend commented, “In your bubble, anything is possible…”

And why not? I know I am in my bubble.

wrap my head around arabic

3 Responses

  1. Xiao xiao says:

    Hi Noch,

    I am amazed with ur determination to upgrade urself and learn languages to upgrade yourself,

    I only learn it when I went to Saudi Arabia to work. Dun even have any intention.

    Good job…

    Xiao xiao

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Xiao Xiao

      Well, i haven’t had class for a year hahaha. I dont’ even remember the alphabet!
      Hope you are doing well there!

  2. […] Why do I feel insecure? […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.