So I have this friend, and one of the mainstays of our conversations is my social ineptitude. He enjoys pointing out all the times when I’m being needy, or acting out of a total lack of self-confidence or –esteem. I guess I’m not big on yes-men type friends. It’s partly just our bizarre sense of humor, but also mostly true. Although I know I have good qualities and skills, my general outlook is usually to expect being disappointed. And yes, sometimes be “clingy.” And yes, make fun of myself to ironically try to ingratiate myself with others.
But the funny thing is, I don’t think even most self-confident people would be able to do what I’m doing now.
So far Milan is in turn great and terrifying and awkward, but even the terrifying and awkward moments are great in their own special way. I find ways to make a fool of myself daily, getting crumbs all over myself and/or the table in front of me, saying words that make absolutely no sense and/or are just Spanish with an Italian accent, trying to talk coherently in any language after climbing 5 flights of stairs, or climbing just 5 stairs but with heavy bags. Sometimes I don’t make any sense because after those stairs I’m talking to a real estate agent with some kind of eye problem so he’s never looking directly at me, so even the words I know fly out the window. If I’m talking to an attractive waiter, for example, my incoherence triples.
Every day is like my very own episode of Mr. Bean.
I’m trying to get to a point though: because I already feel ridiculous and awkward most of the time, I can put myself into situations that other people would probably avoid, and miss out on. I have no problem traveling alone, eating in a restaurant alone, or moving to a different country where I don’t know anyone, because how much more ridiculous could I feel, really? Being the youngest person in my course by far, and trying to teach adults even though I sound like I’m 12 and am physically incapable of projecting my voice hasn’t fazed me so far like it probably should.
I think what I’ve learned is that if you get far enough out of your comfort zone overall, the little scary things come easier, and you have a mysterious confidence from out of left field. My new classmates actually seem to think I have it together (but they haven’t seen my try to ask for a table, just for one). It’s probably why I’ve always been better at dealing with an actual problem, and worse at dealing with that normal life stuff. A total contradiction, but that’s what shows it’s real.