Alright, so, I’m a little socially awkward. Sure I can be social. Everyone can be social. It just takes the right situation. And there are just so many situations in life that aren’t the right situation. But being more outgoing, and less terrified of certain social interactions have been two of my ongoing things to work on. Living abroad, and more specifically, being a Peace Corps volunteer, is making me a better person.
When I was a kid (and I’m using the term “kid” loosely here as the coming sentiments applied to me all the way through college), I used to be irrationally terrified of calling people on the phone. Even calling my best friend to invite her to stay the night at my house was cause for shaky hands, shallow breathing, procrastination, and begging my mother to call for me. (What if her mom picks up the phone? What if it’s accidentally a wrong number? What will I say?!) Later on in my life, I’d sometimes need to call people for important reasons. In college, I would always prefer to ride my bike all the way across town to deal with someone in person (still terrifying, but somehow less terrifying than calling someone on the phone). But inevitably, there would be times when that was not possible. For example, if I was visiting my parents over a break or something. Commence the begging. (Mom please please please just call the person, you know I hate talking on the phone, please please please!) And all of this is just the inability to talk to people on the phone. I also often highly prefer knitting, reading, or staring off into space instead of interacting with people.
Last year when I was living in China pretty much by myself, well, I had to do things for myself, or they wouldn’t get done. I remember one particular instance when I had to call an airline about a vegetarian meal. I was a vegetarian, and I was going to have my vegetarian meal. I had to make three different phone calls to different offices and ended up talking to some people in an office out in podunk, China because the computers had gone down every where else. But I had come to far to let that stop me. And let me tell you, calling people on the phone and having to speak to them in Chinese will make every subsequent phone call in your life just that much easier.
And here in Colombia, I continue to hone my conversational and telephone skills, while also working on my Spanish. Although sometimes, I admit, I just withdraw and refuse to talk to people, or decide that’s it’s not that important to be on top of my sociability game all the time. And you know, that’s okay. I can let a lot of things slide. I think about if something is important to me, and if it isn’t sometimes I just say “eh…” But I like to think that I am becoming a mostly competent human being. To congratulate myself on making it through another day where I have to interact with maybe students, English teachers, other teachers, adminstration, Colombian friends, American friends, service people in town, and who ever else I might come across, in both Spanish and English, I often buy myself and ice cream cone. My current flavor obsession is limon (which are like green lemons. Not really quite limes, nor lemons so far as I can tell).
I’ve been here in Colombia for awhile, and I’m going to be here for a good while longer (we’re at 11 out of 26 months if anyone is keeping score at home). Every day is a little bit easier than the last. And though the days may go by slowly, the months seem to fly.
When I go back to the States, I can go anywhere or call anyone and ask people things, and they will (probably) answer me in English. Life will be so easy!