The biggest challenge I’ve experienced with my relocation to Ecuador has been my limited Spanish skills. I’ve taken a few classes and really do want to master the language, but it is slow going for me.
However, not speaking the language has been a very good spiritual exercise for me. I’ve always found communication easy. I love to write, teach, and even speak to large groups. I’ll admit it; I take pride in my abilities to connect with people easily and comfortably.
And, if I am totally honest, a part of me (I don’t like to share) has judged others with poor communication skills as somehow less than me. I never noticed this about myself until the tables were turned and I was the one struggling to communicate.
Where I live in Ecuador, it is very obvious that I am an alien. The local women are tiny, most less than five feet tall. At 5’10, I stand out in the crowd. LOL
There are very few foreigners living in this small town, Gualaceo, so local people are curious about who I am and why I’m here. Many families have sons who spent years in the USA working so it seems curious that someone from the US would come to Ecuador by choice.
Everywhere I go, people are eager to chat with me. I feel so inadequate when I am not able to chat with them. I can answer very basic questions but after that, I have to apologize, smile, and hope they can sense my sincere desire to be part of the community despite my lack of verbal ability.
Thankfully, people here are very kind and have a good sense of humor. They don’t laugh out loud when I say I burned my hand on a cold stove, lived here for three cows, or answered a question about where I am from by saying I have three sisters. When I’m at the market and can’t understand the price of things, I just hold out my change and watch as the correct amount is carefully counted out and the vendor slowly says 3.75 so I can learn.
I’ve had to adopt a beginner’s mind to communication and cultivate the ability to laugh at myself, celebrate small progress, and be willing to make lots of mistakes. The more I try to engage in conversation, the easier it becomes.
Are you struggling to master something too?
Try adopting a beginner’s mind and allowing yourself to enjoy the messy process of growth and experimentation. When you can fail often and not beat yourself up for it, you’ll find the process of learning a new skill invigorating and fun.