I used to be afraid

My natural state is one of efficiency.  I like to do things “on the way”, “kill two birds with one stone”, put in a little effort now to save myself a great effort later.  When I had kids, I had to learn to put that tendency aside — kids don’t always work that way.  Sometimes I have to make two trips to the same shop to prevent turning a single trip into a massive meltdown, or walk right past a shop where I have to run an errand in order to get everyone home in time for lunch.  That’s just life as a parent.  Sometimes we sacrifice efficiency for everyone’s greater good.

But there’s another way in which I’ve abandoned efficiency since I’ve moved abroad, and it’s less noble.  It’s because I was afraid.

I used to go into a shop and always plan out exactly what I needed to say before it was my turn.  If I found the person behind the counter was hard to communicate with, or impatient, I might leave without everything I needed.  I might go to another shop around the corner, come back another time, or simply do without what I needed.  If I had a coupon that I wanted to use, I would plan to ONLY but the thing the coupon was for so as not to complicate my transaction.  I would add up the total and have exact change waiting so I didn’t have to understand what the cashier said.  I was in a constant state of strategizing what I REALLY needed in order to make things overly simple.  I was afraid of trying to do too much, and of getting things wrong.  It made my life harder than it needed to be.

But at some point, I got over that.  I don’t know when or how it changed.  But I went into a shop today, and I didn’t plan out what I was going to say beforehand.  When the cashier asked for my order, I unashamedly asked for a moment to decide.  I added something to my order after she had rung it up, and then remembered a coupon I wanted to use for just part of my purchase.  In short, I had a totally normal transaction which didn’t require stress, strategy or pre-planning.

This wasn’t the first time — I’m sure I’ve been in this mode for a while now.  But it was the first time I was really aware of how nonchalant I’ve become.  I can go into a bakery or a deli or a grocery store and act just exactly like the slightly distracted, moderately disorganized mom that I am.  And, apparently, I can now do it in German.

1 thought on “I used to be afraid

  1. It’s the one time in my life that I’ve liked math, being abroad (for the most part) math was math. I think what you and your wonderful family have done in the last few years is really really impressive. I remember what it was like when I moved across the country, and then it was the same language, it’s still different, and it still takes guts. Go you!

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