restaurants

The power of writing

Write everything down. I´ve heard this advice before, but I never take it seriously. I bought a beautiful little moleskin book before coming here, and I´ve made a conscious effort to write down everything I learn, observe, or need to do. When I look through it I´m amazed at how much I´ve already forgotten. Two days ago I played a game called Pitufar, and I said that word so many times while playing the game I thought I´d never be able to forget it. However, that night I was telling my host mother about it, and for the life of me I couldn´t remember the name of it. Good thing I wrote it down.

Not only does writing help you remember, it also helps you clear your head. I was starting to panic about all the things I need to do before leaving Salamanca. I was going over and over the list in my head (even translating it into Spanish). However as soon as I wrote the list down I realized I only had five things to do. And they´re not even difficult. But when the list was just floating around in my head it was hard to get perspective on it. Now that the list is on paper I can distance myself from it, and I can think about more important things such as whether to get wine or sangria after class.

I suggest buying a pretty notebook that you don´t mind taking with you everywhere you go. Now I´ve tried this before but I´ve always been too intimidated to write in a pretty journal. I think, I must fill these beautiful pages with beautiful thoughts. I can´t put my grocery list in a Moleskin, what would Picasso or Hemingway think? (If you´re not familiar with Moleskin, they´re handmade journals that have been used by all the great writers and artists of the past – at least that´s what they tell me). Here´s what helped me. I scribled all over the first page. I made a big fat mess, and now anything I write in the book will be an improvement over the first page. Try it. I atually think the more messy the pages the better. I like flipping through the pages and seeing all my different handwritings, and doodles, and side notes. It´s almost like a visual of how my brain works.

I also love writing in a moleskin at restaurants. When a waiter sees one they automatically think you´re a food critic or a writer for a travel guide. As soon as I bring mine out, all of sudden the waiter becomes super attentive. I get free glasses of wine, and sometimes they let me try some of their specialties for free. I kid you not, this has happened three times since I got here. Maybe I play it up a bit. I have been known to take a bite, look up as if I´m thinking about how to describe it, and then write down a few notes. Usually I´m writing about how my day went, but the waiter doesn´t need to know that.

On a side note, today was my last day of classes. I´m going to miss my helpful teachers, and my fellow classes. Don Quijote is an excellent school and I´d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Spanish abroad. Today for the first time ever I spoke in Spanish without thinking. I said three sentences to a guard at a museum and I thought to myself his English is good. And then I realized, oh wait I´m speaking in Spanish!

My tiny class

Getting over fear

A wise man once said, (I´m paraphrasing here) ¨If you´re afraid of being poor, walk around for a day in threadbare clothes and only drink water and eat a crust of bread. At the end, say to yourself, is this what I´ve been so afraid of?¨

How many times have you done something that you were really afraid of and then laughed at yourself because it really wasn´t hard at all? It´s insane how much we let fear control our lives. If you think of all the things you´ve ever wanted to do, and then asked yourself why you didn´t do it the answer is probably fear.

Here are the three fears that have inhibited me the most:

Fear of poverty

Fear of criticism

Fear of being alone

In the past, I have prioritzed avoiding these fears over fully embracing life . For instance, I didn´t like my last job, but I worked there for three years because I made lots of money, and I wouldn´t have to face the fear of being poor. I have kept my mouth shut when I had something important to say, because I was afraid that I would sound stupid. I didn´t even want to have a blog because I was so afraid of exposing my terrible spelling and grammar to the world. Gasp what would they say! Since I´ve been in Spain, the computer I´ve been using doesn´t have spell check set up for English, so I have certainly had to get over my fear of criticism to write these posts. In High School and College I befriended people  who I didn´t like or respect because I didn´t want to sit alone.

Before coming here I decided to face the fear of being alone head on. First of all I came here alone. Besides for the first day, I have had every lunch and dinner by myself. Don´t worry I´m making friends, but I made a conscious decision to grow comfortable with being alone. Before, even just the thought of eating alone in a restaurant  would have made my skin crawl. In the past if I went to a restaurant with a friend and they got up to go to the bathroom, I would immediately feel like everyone was looking at me, and thinking oh poor girl, she has no friends.

A funny thing starts to happen when you´re alone for so long.  Instead of feeling like everyone´s looking at you, you start to look at everyone else. I have become more observant. I noticed how the old men here have made an art out of stirring their coffee. They slip their spoons in and out of the cup very slowly, and they do this for 20 minutes or so. It´s almost like a meditation. I noticed how people touch their wine glasses differently when they´re talking to someone they like. I can predict if a couple´s going to have sex or a fight after dinner just by the way they drink their wine!

To be perfectly honest I don´t like being alone. I miss talking to my boyfriend/friends/family. I miss having common references and inside jokes. But I have met interesting people who I probably never would have met if I was with a friend. And I´ve had time to get lost in the streets and do exactly what I want to do. At the end of every meal I´ve made of point of saying, ¨Is this what I´ve been afraid of?¨

The point is as soon as you face your fears they can no longer control you.  If you´re in a relationship with someone who isn´t right for you maybe you should spend the day alone and then ask yourself, ¨Is this what I´ve been afraid of?¨ Sometimes when we face what we fear the most it´s better than what we´ve been accepting in the past.

So as a challenge, I ask you to do what scares you the most. Don´t go skydiving today. I´m talking about emotional fears. Face your emotional fears and then ask yourself, ¨Is this what I´ve been afraid of?¨If you can laugh after asking yourself that question then it´s time to start changing.