Ten days ago I decided that by June 30th I will be conversationally fluent in Spanish. Having studied the language in 8th through 12th grade plus my first semester of college and having a small amount of experience travelling in Spanish-speaking countries I have a head start. But there is a lot I have forgotten (vocabulary! verb conjugations!) and a lot I was never very good at (speaking it!).
Nonetheless, I know I will accomplish my goal. Thanks to the continuous self-development that has brought peace, joy, and utter fulfillment into my life I’ve learned to use my gremlin’s energy (just as I help my clients do) to assist me in maintaining faith in myself and my abilities no matter how circuitous the path to success may be.
No matter how comfortable I am with myself or how confident I am that I will achieve my goal, this new challenge requires stepping out of my comfort zone. It requires the same racing heart, sweaty armpits, and inability to concentrate that I felt when I was learning to coach.
Because coaching people was scary. Just as having conversations in Spanish is scary.
What if I sound like an idiot?
What if I fail because I’m not capable enough?
What if I’m not good enough?
My gremlin reverts to old habits, old loops of continuous chatter.
She’s only trying to keep me safe, I know. She’s here to help.
She tells me to end conversations before they’ve even started. She tells me that I’ll be okay if I never accomplish the #1 item on my bucket list. She tells me to go hide.
But I don’t want that kind of help from my gremlin. I want the bold vulnerability I’ve assigned as her new task.
So I stick with it. Even though I can’t speak perfectly—or even well, possibly—and regardless of being an introvert who doesn’t do small talk in English, yet alone another language.
And you know what? Despite the fact that every person I’ve talked to speaks far better English than I speak Spanish, they are also nervous in our language exchanges. Edwin worries I’ll think his English is poor. Yordi worries about putting herself out there with native English speakers. Silvia worries about the conversation she had with her boss in which he told her he’d gotten complaints about her English, so maybe she doesn’t speak well after all.
They too worry they aren’t good enough.
Seeing gremlins on display across the globe allows me to see myself in my language partners and feel united by our common humanity.
I take a deep breath then, turn on my bold vulnerability, and dive in.
I have exchanges that could never be replicated nor replaced. I connect with others and see them as they truly are. I push past the edges of familiarity and ease.
I really live.
And isn’t that what bucket lists–and life–are for?
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