a new direction?
Ummm… yeah… it’s been a while, hasn’t it? To get the awkward explanations out of the way, life has been bat-shit crazy. In a good way, if bat-shit can indeed be good. I’ve been busy living and really sinking my claws into life here. There’s been a lot of French going on, lots of immersion in life and the social structure here, lots of learning, lots of laughing, and lots of stepping out of my comfort zone. If you can become a more well-rounded person in the space of a month, well, that’s what I’ve done.
On the street, on the bus, in the schoolyard, I’m no longer the quiet foreigner that you’d be surprised to hear speaking your language, because you just assumed, since she never said anything, that she couldn’t understand. Now I’m there laughing, chatting, butchering your mother tongue, no doubt, but trying.
Speaking in public is far far out of my comfort zone. In English. Tack on the double whammy of doing it in French, and I’ve been practically mute for the six years we’ve lived here. I’ve lived in my own little cocoon and, franchement, I’m over my own company. I’ve been lonely here, but mostly I’ve been lonely because of my own actions.
So what’s changed? How am I all of a sudden breaking out of my wallflower-persona? It’s a simple little change, but it’s been mind-blowing in its effect. I stopped apologizing for myself. I stopped starting every conversation with, “I’m sorry, I only speak a little French.” I used to do that all the time. Before I even had a chance to make a mistake, I was making excuses for my limitations. I was so worried about making a mistake that I wasn’t really trying. I wasn’t pushing my boundaries in the language because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. So rather than try, and mess up, I’d make excuses so people wouldn’t expect much of me.
Now, instead of immediately apologizing for my limitations, I do my best. And a whole new world is opening up for me. And you know what? I don’t think I’ve offended anyone’s ears yet. No one winces in pain over my grammatical errors, or when I try and fail to pronounce my Rs correctly. They accept me where I am, they love that I’m trying, and they fall all over themselves trying to help me improve.
What if I were to apply this throughout my life? What if, for example, I stopped apologizing for not being a runner? For not being a natural athlete? For not having a long, lithe body built for speed? What if I stopped apologizing for myself before I even tried?
I’m not sure what I want to do exercise-wise right now. Maybe get back to yoga. Perhaps C25K. Indoor rock-climbing? Maybe swimming, since the new pool minutes from my house should be opening in three weeks’ time. I’m not sure — suggestions are welcome But whatever I do, I want to really commit to it. And I want to do it without belittling myself. I’m not going to apologize — to others, but more importantly, to myself – about my lack of ability.
This is a new direction for me. I’ve made lots of physical changes in the last year or so. And a few mental changes. The mental changes have had by far the greater impact on my progress. And I think this change might be one of the biggest I’ve made to date.