Brazil - The other day while out surfing in the frigid water and pouring rain, waves thrashing me around like a rag doll, barely able to catch a wave, and then stung by a jelly fish - I started thinking about the things I had set out to focus on improving during my trip to South America.
Surfing and Spanish. Two things I'd love to improve and simultaneously terrify me.
Reflecting on whether there's been any improvement over the last month and a half, at that moment all I could think was how terrible I was and whatever excuse I could muster - the board is too small, the waves are too big, and I just basically stink at it.
Spanish is a bit of the same thing - finding my way around best I can, stumbling along and when feeling defeated coming up with any excuse for not stepping out of my comfort zone and practicing.
Ideally, the key is to spend as much time as you can with a non-native speaker who knows a few things in english, and then it’s a reciprocal experience. For over 2 weeks I traveled with a Spaniard, and found it was the best way to learn via a lot of practice and consistent laughter. And then at times it was extremely frustrating (so incredibly thankful for Google translate).
Later on that day after my attempt to surf, I mentioned this to a friend about how i set out to tackle these things and felt I hadn’t made much progress. "Yeah," she said, "but you're out there doing both of those things, and isn't that the point?"
She’s right, I thought. At least I'm trying. Traveling is such a wonderful way to get out out of your comfort zone and focus on things that you may not be able to on a daily basis because of some excuse or life gets in the way. Maybe it’s to read a book a day for a month, master calligraphy, or find your true calling in life.
But more importantly, now I'm trying not to be so hard on myself. Because while it’s good to have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish or have a goal to focus on - more often than not at first you’re going to fall down much more than you stand up. That’s all part of the process of becoming better at anything, so in the meantime I'll just keep paddling and rolling my r's.
Insecure? Sure. Determined? Yes.
Un dia a la vez!