Embarrassment! What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Two weeks ago, a close friend of mine asked me, “what has been your favorite experience so far on your travels?”

𝗜 𝗽𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲𝗱.


And quickly had an answer.

One memory stood out in particular.

During my first two days in Portugal, I found myself wanting a few things that many want..

𝗔 𝗯𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺

𝗔 𝗰𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗲

𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗪𝗶𝗳𝗶.

Go figure ;).

Unlike my favorited café in Austin, no one spoke English in any I had visited. Everyone I had encountered thus far, spoke Portuguese.

And notably, my first interaction in Portugal with my Uber driver, led to a lengthy, confusing pick up and drop off (for both of us) from the airport.

We attempted to interact, to engage, and it ended with us communicating by taking turns typing into translate on his phone.

After that interaction, I was reluctant to ask for three things at the café…

To say the least.

Do you remember when we were young, and we sought to learn, understand and speak our primary language, often by watching our parents and others interact?

We attempted to learn sentence structure, pronunciation, phrases, and the like.

For me, I picture my five year old self listening back and forth between adults, trying to absorb what they were saying, so that I could mirror them, and communicate.

The main difference…

I am no longer five years old.

And… I haven’t had years around people speaking Portuguese, to allow time for it to absorb.

Time for my mind to build recognition.

Basically, I had no idea what was going on, short of reading body language, and facial expressions, and even those can be misinterpreted cross culturally.

𝗜 𝘀𝗮𝘄 𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝗼𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱…

#1 Use Google translate, and be that awkward person holding my phone up so it can speak for me

#2 Search the key terms; Wifi, bathroom, and coffee and list them off, likely sounding like demands, rather than a simple request

#3 Use Google translate to tell me how to say, “Hello! May I please have a coffee and the WifI password?” and as a separate question, “where Is your bathroom?” after I had completed my first request

#𝟯 𝗶𝘁 𝗶𝘀.

Because a part of the commitment I made to myself for this trip was to put forth more effort immersing into the culture that I’m visiting.

In an effort to try and decrease the attachment to devices and other means that can create connection, while removing it at the same time, I wanted to remove the connection barriers as much as possible.

And as I type this, I’m laughing, because I remember the moment when I approached the counter.

In my head a little bit.

𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗲.

𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗲

𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗯𝗶𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝗰𝗵𝗲𝘀𝘁

𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻g 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘆 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗳 𝗜 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘂𝗽

All the while, equally determined to do it anyway.

As I shared my first request, I clearly articulated it correctly, when he smiled and started making my coffee, and then handed me a card with the Wifi password.


Now for the important question… “where is your bathroom?”

Round two, here we go.

Just as I could clearly tell I was accurate with my first question, I could tell that I was off by a key stroke or two with this one, when I was met with a tilted head and look of, “huh?”

I attempted again..

Strike two.

Head still tilted, and a slight scratch of the chin.

On the third try, he gathered what I was asking for, since there were likely not many other things I could be asking about.

He corrected my pronunciation, and laughed.

And while this moment may seem insignificant, it’s not.

By challenging myself to learn a bit of Portuguese, even just enough to have a smooth interaction in the café, I accomplished a few things.

#𝟭 𝗜 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗰𝗵. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗱 𝗜 𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗲, “𝗯𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺”.

#𝟮 𝗠𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲 𝗺𝘆𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮 𝗯𝗶𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲, 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝘂𝘀 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗿𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗲 (𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗴𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗲), 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗺𝘆 𝗻𝗲𝘅𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮 𝗯𝗶𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗿.

#𝟯 𝗠𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗻𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗴𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗜’𝘃𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗹𝘆

And because of these things, I set myself up for moments like this.

Moments where I challenge myself to grow just a little bit.

𝗧𝗼 𝘁𝗿𝘆 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮 𝗯𝗶𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿

𝗧𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗻𝗲𝘄

𝗧𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱

And honestly, life is built on these moments.

𝗪𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘄 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀

𝗪𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀

𝗪𝗲 𝗺𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝗽𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀

𝗪𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗯𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀.

Truthfully, It’s normal to fear putting ourselves “out there” for potential failure or embarrassment, but when we can change our relationship with fear…

fear that we know isn’t really about imminent risk, an incredibly meaningful life can be created there.

And for me, I look at this interaction as a laid foundational brick, that will lead to another, then another, and then another.

Before you know it, I will have a house that I’m proud to live in…

Otherwise known as my life.

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