A long time ago, I decided to take some time off from school to go live in Spain. I dutifully bought a copy of “Spanish in 15 Minutes a Day” and had worked my way through the first chapter when I found myself on a bus in Boston, returning from a school where I volunteered once a week.
Two guys sitting a few rows behind me having a conversation in Spanish. I strained to understand, and quickly became frustrated that I could barely catch two words of what they were saying.
This of course made no sense at all. I hadn’t (yet) actually done the work of learning to speak Spanish, I’d just decided that I was going to learn the language, yet there I was beating myself up for not understanding these guys.
It’s tempting when we find ourselves in new situations – new countries, new jobs, among a new peer set or just at a cocktail party or a conference where we don’t feel comfortable – to beat ourselves up for not being more…something (connected, outgoing, fluent, knowledgeable of local customs). It’s tempting to forget that we are who we are – nothing more, nothing less.
The point of the new situation is that it’s new, that we don’t yet have what it takes to be the best at this new thing – and that’s why we’re there. The only positive response to that feeling of discomfort, of inadequacy, is to decide to put in the time it takes to get better.
Sin eso, nunca aprendemos a hacerlo mejor.