I was talking with a friend recently about how I feel like I am 19-years-old here. There is something unnerving about being in a place where you know no one and you can’t speak the language – it has a way of making you feel very young. At least that’s been my experience.
I am finding myself to be very shy here, especially in the office, and if you know me personally you would know that this is wayyy out of character. I can be pretty out going and sociable. But, I’ve noticed myself wanting to shrink away as if I were still that lanky, brace-faced, 11-year-old girl. Normally I am a pretty confidant speaker and, thanks to my terrible Spanish, I find myself fumbling all over the place. Which results in my turning beet red and releasing my awkward giggle – hands to the face.
When I was in India it was much the same. That experience, however, was a bit easier. As a foreigner you’re not expected to know Hindi. Yes, you should still try to speak it, but no one really expects you to be fluent in the language.
Spanish is an entirely different story here. Most of the other foreigners I have met, have a pretty good handle on the Spanish language. Which is wonderful, but that forces me to admit that I am sooooo ill-prepared for this chapter in my life. And I like being prepared…
The one thing I can say for sure is that no matter where you go in this world. If you are playing the role of a foreigner
- You better get used to people laughing at you – a lot – in a “laughing with you” kind of way
- You better learn to laugh at yourself – all the time
And if you don’t already have it:
- You better develop a sense of humor
Those are the three best lessons that I have learned in my travels.
Life is too short to take yourself so seriously all the time. This is something that I need to remind myself of often.
Now ask yourself this
- Are feeling sluggish and held down by your age?
- Do you remember the last time you laughed like you were 6 years old?
Then it might be time to start saving for your next vacation.
Not possible? That’s OK, immerse yourself in something that is completely foreign to you and let yourself go.
I promise the laughing alone will take years off your life and you might be surprised at how addicting that feeling of discomfort can be.