But before I came on Saturday, actually the last time I went, I knew I had to do this. I asked myself, is that really what I need right now, to be comfortable, to continue to sit with women I know and continue to have things translated for me? Linguistically speaking it can be quite frustrating for your brain when things are being translated for you. There is a part of your brain that shuts off when you're around translation. Each time I'd been to this event before, it was frustrating to work hard at understanding what was being said, only to hear the constant English in the back ground, which then causes my brain to do weird things. Aside from all that, I thought - I need to also get to know new Croatian women.
As I made my way to the other side of the room, I was nervous. Walking away from something comfortable is hard for me to do sometimes. I knew I would be meeting new people while trying to only speak Croatian. The perfectionist side of me was freaking out: will I have a hard time communicating - will I forget words - will there be awkward silences...?
But then I sat down and met a lovely woman to my left that I connected with. She ended up being really excited about our charity shop and even wants to do a piece about us on her website. I even survived the slight embarrassment I felt as an older woman across from me, sitting next to my volunteer, finally looked to her and said in English, "Oh, are you also American" Our volunteer smiled and said, "yeah!" The woman then said, "I knew right when I sat down that you (meaning Ashley and myself) were American." Usually that means we were being a bit too smiley and/or loud. Ashley and I looked at each other and just shrugged it off with a smile!
And then I ended up sitting next to a dear friend on my right, and got to meet her mom for the first time! She also was so kind as to translate various words for me when the language nerd in me was dying to know a particular verb form or to see if I was saying a phrase the right way.
And when I left, I realized it had been the best experience at this Women's event thus far! I understood SO much more than I have in the past. I wasn't lost at all! I could feel that my brain was in full force - working hard to piece everything together. I loved it!!
To some it might seem like a baby step to walk across the room, but for me it felt like a jump. Jumps are required while living in another country. Well, I guess they're not required for living or surviving, but I want to do more than just live and survive here - I want to be intentional about growing WHILE living here.