Although January is the preferred choice of many to change their lives, I’ve never been a “New Year, New Me” kind of girl. Mostly because I would forgot my resolution within a week of the new year. So setting my goal of ‘passing the DALF C1 in 2024’ in January was purely by chance, based on the revelations I had in December.

I’m perfectly aware that while living in France, my French had gotten worse. I wasn’t actively studying. I spent most of my time around other expats or French people who spoke English. And I made zero effort to put myself in uncomfortable situations that would force my language skills to grow.

Admittedly, I was disappointed in myself. French has been one of the cornerstones of my life for over a decade. Yet here I was, squandering a life-changing opportunity. Despite this disappointment, I wasn’t motivated to do something about it. The event that got me to recommit was a conversation that I had with a Jamaican woman living in the Netherlands. She shared her story with me: how she studied journalism in Jamaica, then moved to the Netherlands. Without an advanced level of Dutch, she couldn’t integrate into Dutch media. Eventually she changed careers and started a family. Naturally, my ears perked up at the mention of journalism. Yet without me having to mention it, she touched on all of the concerns and struggles which I faced as an aspiring journalist in a foreign country.

There was one part of her story that stuck with me. She said that she wished she had spent those early years, before she started a family and life got in the way, to focus on getting that advanced level of Dutch. She wonders how that could’ve changed the course of her life. For me, it was a message. I didn’t want to look back and regret not investing in myself when I had the chance. Living in France has afforded me opportunities that I could only dream of while living in Jamaica. And any chance at capturing the life I’m chasing for myself is hinged on becoming fluent in French, starting with DALF C1. Along the way, maybe I can recapture some of the magic that hooked me onto French in the first place.

And let this serve as a message to you, dear reader and fellow Francophile. Whether it’s learning French or any other goal, don’t wait to invest your time and effort into it.