I’ve been in Germany exactly a week today.
It’s been uplifting,
It’s also been fucking terrifying
I don’t speak German. Well, I can get by, but I’m far from fluent. It’s isolating. To not fully understand conversations, to feel really small and pathetic when I’m standing in a supermarket reading the ingredients on the back of a packet, trying to figure out whether it’s vegan or not. Simple stuff, you know? But stuff that can feel heavy and frustrating and way out of my depth.
It’s a familiar feeling, being way out of my depth. I always jump in deep these days – from teaching myself to swim after an ankle injury that put me out for nearly a whole year, to big-hearted conversations over red wine to quitting my full-time job and going all in on my coaching business – I don’t even know where the shallow end is anymore.
This morning I woke up and decided I’d speak German all day long.
Basic stuff. Weird put-together sentences. Constantly Googling and using iTranslate.
My old story, the one about not being good enough and clever enough and everything enough, starts to prod and poke at me the minute I go to open my mouth as I’m switching the coffee machine on and asking my partner, “Möchtest du einen Kaffee?” (I actually just pulled my phone out to check I got that right, and then I put it away. Fuck it. You guys don’t care.) And yet it’s right there in those moments, when that old story gets big and threatens to pull a blinder on me, that I speak – I pull together a sentence and just say it. All jumbled up and imperfect and bumbling.
And Kristin beams. And replies in German.
It feels good and it also feels exhausting – to know that I’m just at the beginning, with so much to learn. And yet I keep on speaking this confusing foreign language, even when it feels awkward, especially when it feels awkward, because I’ve learned time and time again that the moment I experience resistance – the moment I feel small, the moment I go silent, the moment I start to hide – it’s a sign to push just that little more. To challenge myself. To take action.
Action. It leads to the good stuff.