When you have anxiety, stability is the key. Too much change, too quickly can send you into a tailspin. When Jay and I move to Mexico for the winter I notice that it always takes me at least a week to adjust to my new surroundings. But, even then, Mexico is far more anxiety inducing to me than Canada. Many factors contribute to this, but the biggest one is not speaking the language. I’ve been learning since our first trek here in 2012, but I find languages difficult. As ironic as it is seeing that I am an English major, ask any of my French teachers and they’ll corroborate my story. Math, science, history, no problem, but ask me to speak in a foreign language I seize up. I suspect it comes from my desire to do everything perfectly. I tend to learn on my own and only show others once I’ve mastered it. I hate looking “stupid” in front of others. Which poses a problem when learning languages, since the best way to learn them is to speak it with natives and practice, practice, practice! But I’m tired of not being able to be myself in Mexico so this year I’m going to change some things.
My first big step was joining a gym here in Cancun. Not only is exercising good stress/anxiety relief, the gym I joined is in the downtown area and women’s only. This means that no one speaks English and I don’t have Jay around to lean on as a language crutch. It’s a bit daunting, and some days I can’t help but hope that no one speaks to me, but I can already feel myself opening up a bit. As our Spanish improves we are able to participate in more activities around Cancun. I’m already finding I don’t shy away from social situations that involve Spanish as often and I’m hoping that I can find a Mexican friend to do stuff with. Just the other day we met a lovely family who lives in our extended neighbourhood who speaks pretty good English (which really helps, even though we try and communicate in Spanish).
But, it’s also important for me to realize that all expats feel some anxiety and stress and that I’m totally normal. That is why I belong to Internations, an organization that brings together expats all over the world. I go to the monthly events so that I can feel a part of a community that is going through, or has gone through, some of the things I am feeling. Between Internations and a Facebook group I’m part of I’m hoping to find a friend to tackle some gym classes with me. I do know the words for left and right, but I’m pretty sure I’m still going to look pretty silly trying to do latin cardio if I can’t understand the instructions. Maybe I’ll stick to step class. Haha
It’s amazing how many opportunities you can miss though fear or anxiety. Sometimes it’s hard to do something knowing you will look stupid, but it’s usually worth it. This time I’m saying good night to my worries and I’m going to live each day to the fullest, ridiculousness and all.