language / life lessons

Thoughts / Travel

Hey there wonderful humans!

As many of you may know, I spent just over six and a half months traveling through Mexico and Guatemala this winter, having the time of my freeking life, eating my weight in refried beans, and communicating mostly with hand signals and broken Spanglish. Towards the end of my time in Latin America I decided to travel to Guatemala to take some Spanish classes (and live with a Spanish-only speaking family) in an attempt to give up the hand signals in favour of actually speaking this thing we call Español; and let’s just say it was a wild, wild ride.

If you’ve ever wondered if throwing yourself into a situation / country / culture where not a single person speaks the same language as you feels overwhelming and terrifying- it does. If it seems like a challenge that requires patience, compassion, countless hours of studying, conversations with strangers about the weather, hot pink flash cards, endless cups of coffee, and many, many, many situations where you look/feel like an idiot – it does. BUT!! If this challenge seems impossible or insurmountable- it is absolutely not.

I promise. 

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that learning a language is easy (or was easy for me) because that would be a lie, and I’m definitely not going to pretend that after three weeks of school I’m somehow fluent, cause that would also be a lie (and would entirely miss the point of what made this process such an incredible learning experience for me.)

I was faced with a lot of uncomfortable and confronting truths about myself throughout my time in Guatemala that stung a little at first, but actually ended up teaching me so much more than I ever imagined. One of the hardest pills to swallow was confronting my tendency to be a perfectionist…. and before we get taking about how that’s not a good thing, just realise that I KNOW. I know, I know, I know. I know that perfectionism is just a shield to hide vulnerability- a shield I use to protect myself from feeling exposed, or like a failure, or like I’m not good enough.

But amigos! If you really want to stare perfectionism (fear) in the face and say “thank’s for trying to protect me, but you gotta go” then seriously- learn another language- because there is absolutely no room for perfection in that process. Seriously. NONE!!!

So anyways, throughout my time in school, struggling through my lack of perfection and overall ability to communicate the most basic of thoughts, I started compiling a list of all the lessons I was being confronted with. This list originally started off in the back of my notebook as small thoughts and encouraging notes, but after reading it at the end of my three weeks, it turns out it’s actually just a big list of lessons that can be applied to life in general. 

So here it is! Disfrutar. (enjoy 😉 )

Language lessons:

  • anything worth doing will feel terrifying and vulnerable at first
  • patience is the ultimate virtue needed for growth
  • there is no shame in not knowing something
  • there is no shame in starting from square one
  • starting is the hardest part – so just do it already
  • sometimes children know more about something than you do and are the least judgemental people to learn from 
  • if you are patient and compassionate with yourself, you can accomplish anything (seriously)
  • perfectionism is only fear disguised- and we don’t need that, do we?
  • getting something wrong is not a point of shame or disappointment, it’s a helpful tool
  • comparing yourself to others serves no one
  • criticising yourself serves no one
  • feeling ashamed serves no one
  • would you talk to a friend this way? no? then don’t talk to yourself that way
  • you’re doing the best you can, and that is enough
  • sometimes taking a day off is more productive than working
  • the more you learn, the more you realise how little you know (the challenge is to let this realisation empower and inspire you, not discourage you)
  • your voice is more than your words
  • your personality is more than your voice
  • your character is more than your personality
  • trust in the process
  • trust in your ability to grow 
  • the basics must be learnt before the fun stuff (sad but true)
  • just because people look at you like you’re stupid doesn’t mean that you are (you’re not)
  • being misunderstood does not make you wrong, it makes you different, and there is nothing wrong with being different
  • its impossible to learn everything at once
  • it’s reckless to try and learn everything at one
  • you are a smart, capable, highly adaptable human being- and don’t you ever forget it 
  • patience, patience patience, patience, patience patience
  • practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice
  • your idea of success will be different than anyone else’s
  • your learning process will be different than anyone else’s
  • coffee makes everything better (until it makes everything worse)
  • sleep > coffee
  • even when it feels like you’re going backwards – you’re progressing (promise)
  • kindness needs no language to be communicated, and that’s really the most important thing after all

So now I want to know, what’s a goal of yours that feels a little out of reach and slightly terrifying? Maybe now is the time to start, and hopefully keeping some of these lessons in mind will help you to persevere when it get’s tough – because it will.

Love you guys! Stay ambitious and endlessly compassionate with yourselves. You deserve it.

Jess

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** why I decided to go to Latin America and how I deal with change can be found—> here
** a nice lil quote about growth can be found —> here

The Author

tree hugger // star gazer // girl with the dance moves