Before I left for my trip to France, I had a conversation with myself about how I was going to be with regard to speaking French during the trip. I decided that I was going to put aside my need to be perfect and just let my mistakes fall as they may. Secondly, I was going to put my best effort into being engaged in every conversation, regardless of whether I understood what people were saying or not. I was going to embrace being patient with myself and being engaged.
And you know what?? The whole experience was completely different.
One night went out with my husband’s friend Christophe, and he commented on my improved French. (I quit seeing my French tutor about 6 months ago, so who knows how my French has improved.) He also mentioned that I seemed to have more confidence speaking (and it wasn’t because I was drinking).
On another day, my husband and a friend were talking and I was sitting there kind of looking at the ceiling. In French, my husband said to his friend, “Theresa is looking at the ceiling and I don’t think she is listening.” At that I said, “Sure I was, you just said, this, this, and this.” (with a smile on my face).
On yet a third night, there was this back and forth conversation between a few people and I asked my husband what was going on because I thought I had missed something. Turns out I was right on track.
And finally, I had my first one-to-one conversation with my sister-in-law. Imagine knowing someone for 6 years, but never actually having a conversation with them? I had always hesitated to speak with her because she knows absolutely no English and I wasn’t confident enough in my French. This time I just decided that I would engage and see what happened. It was wonderful.
I think in the past I had let my fears of not speaking correctly get in the way of my ability to truly engage with others. I would also just disengage myself by drifting off into my own thoughts, since I figured no one expected me to contribute much anyway. It was often very lonely for me, inside my own head.
Opening myself up to full engagement was all that really changed. And, although I am talking about being engaged speaking French, I am really talking about being engaged in life.
Think about those moments when you lose yourself in your thoughts when you are with other people, or when you are doing two things at the same time. There are so many moments when we are disengaged in our own lives, which doesn’t really allow us to connect with others, or even connect with what we are doing.
When I re-engaged and reconnected my joy factor went up exponentially.
How are you engaged with life?