Happy New Year! It’s officially 2018. Can you believe that people who were born in 2000 will now be legal adults and hitting up da clubs?! Wild…
A new year can mean a lot of different things. There’s the standard “new year, new me” phrase that we all just love. It also means resolutions are back! If you’re anything like me, then you probably don’t give much thought, or honestly even care, to make one. Besides, I usually have a horrible time keeping up with them. For example, last year, I tried the #Whole30 diet and FAILED. I failed miserably. I barely made it past 4 days because:
1) I didn’t meal prep
2) I love bread (but not as much as Oprah does)
However, this time I thought, “Ah, let’s give it a go and be serious about it.” Instead of making a resolution based on food, weight loss, or being more physically fit, I decided to make a resolution that seems a bit odd, but will hopefully be more beneficial in the long run.
I want to purposefully put myself in uncomfortable situations so that I can learn more about the world and people around me, and grow as a human being.
To calm my mother’s fears about “uncomfortable situations,” I don’t mean putting myself in extreme danger or harm’s way. Let me explain a bit more:
About a month ago I went on a search for a clipboard. It contained a list of all the names of middle schoolers in the Kids Create program. I needed to find the clipboard before the program started so that we could take attendance. As I entered into the YAC (youth activity center), I saw Maria, who cleans one of the buildings for Ciudad Nueva. I smiled, waved, said, “Hola! Cómo está?,” and continued my search.
I knew Maria did not speak English, but I was desperate to find the clipboard since the program was about to start. I thought it would be helpful to ask Maria if she had seen the clipboard. The only problem was, I had no idea how to say “clipboard” in Spanish. I juggled the idea of leaving and finding someone else who would be able to speak to her more clearly than I could, but then I thought, “What is the worst thing that could happen with me attempting to ask her a very simple question?” SO…alas…here is what I asked her:
“Maria, sabes dónde está la lista… de los nombres…de los niños?” –> “Maria, do you know where is the list…of the names…of the kids?”
Obviously, she was very confused. It then became a silly game of charades as I tried to act out what I was looking for. I used my hands to make a rectangle shape. I started to laugh because I felt ridiculous, but Maria was incredibly sweet to look for something that she had no idea what she was looking for.
Eventually, I found it. I thanked her profusely and walked out. I felt a little silly but ultimately, was thankful for that interaction. It was originally uncomfortable to even think about asking Maria for help, but I learned that it is okay to mess up Spanish. I don’t have to be perfect at it (although I really, really want to be).
Another example: Two nights ago I was sitting on a couch watching YouTube videos. I was simultaneously thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of the evening. I had the entire house to myself and thought, “I will put on my PJs, cuddle up in bed with a fuzzy blanket, and watch 2 movies back-to-back because I have nothing going on tomorrow and #yolo.”
Almost two minutes later, my phone rang. I looked down and saw a number that I did not recognize. It was past 7:00 pm and I honestly considered not answering, but with a split second decision, I decided to answer.
“Hello, this is Lexi?”
“Hey, Lexi. This is Joseph from church. Hope you had an awesome Christmas with your family. I was wondering if you could do me a huge favor?”
“Yeah, sure. What’s up?”
“Well, I’m not sure if you know, but the church received about 20 refugees this weekend. I was wondering if you were free to spend the night tonight at the YAC with them? Usually, I would spend the night, but there are only women and children here, and I just don’t want to risk it…could you help me out?”
In my mind, I thought, “But…but… I want to watch movies and be cozy!!!”
Thankfully, I said, “Oh, yeah! Sure! That’s not a problem. Let me just pack an overnight bag really quick and I’ll head on over!”
It was certainly not how I planned for the evening to go. I got to the YAC around 8:00 pm. The women were sitting on air mattresses while the young children played with large wooden blocks, lining them up like dominos and delighting in them falling down. I met Joseph in the back room where an air mattress was set up for me, too.
My job was simple enough. Just spend the night. If there happened to be an emergency, call 911. Joseph assured me that there had never been any past emergencies. He and Gustavo, another volunteer, left around 8:30 pm and told me they’d be back early in the morning. Soon enough, I was left alone with women and children from Guatemala who did not speak any English.
I don’t think the women initially knew that I wasn’t a fluent Spanish speaker because I had a girl come up to me asking for help. I understood every-other-word, and through context clues, I was able to understand that she needed a piece of paper that she accidentally threw away in a trashcan, and needed help looking for it. So, I found two pairs of cleaning gloves, and away we went digging through a 4-foot trashcan.
In my very imperfect Spanish, I tried to have a conversation with her. We did not get very far into the conversation because I had a lot of difficulties understanding what she said. It was uncomfortable, but we laughed it off. Another woman came over and started to ask me a question, and I could feel my eyes grow large, like a deer in the headlights type of look. She pointed to her head and then pointed to the table behind me, and I thought she asked for a hat. Nope, turns out she wanted some Ibuprophen pills behind me. It was very hard to say no to her because she was persistent. I honestly wanted to give the pills to her, but I wasn’t sure if it was “allowed,” so I thought I should not risk it. She finally gave up, but not without giving me a good 10-minute plea as to why she wanted medicine for her headache in Spanish.
Resolution: I want to purposefully put myself in uncomfortable situations so that I can learn more about the world and people around me, and grow as a human being.
Basically, I desire to have more situations like the ones listed above in the 2018 year. I’m sure there will be plenty more, and they do not have to be Spanish related (those were just the top two that stuck out). My resolution is to go into these situations with more confidence, to be willing to make a fool out of myself, to step out of the boundaries of comfort, and just try.
As Cara once said to me, “It only takes 10 seconds of courage to just do it.”