Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Global Citizen Year focuses a lot on your stretch zone and I think I’ve just found a physical definition for it.

Recently in capoeira class, I asked the teacher to show me how to do a one handed cartwheel. Apparently, there are four versions: two on each side with a different hand. My first try was fun, nothing too scary. Then he said let’s try the other side! Given I could barely do a normal cartwheel on my left side, this was slightly intimidating. But it was when I tried it with the other hand, farther from me, that I started to doubt why I was doing this. I had to throw myself onto the hand I trusted the least. Jumping into this unknown and very uncomfortable experience where it’s more than likely I’m about to fall on my face, has been a feeling I’ve become quite familiar with in the past two months.

More times than I can count, I found myself in situations where I was alone, surrounded by rapid Portuguese in an unfamiliar environment. Despite all the awkwardness and self-embarrassment that accompanied these experiences, I would always find comfort with the mentality of “going with the flow” and having faith it’ll probably all work out.

Let me provide you with some examples,

  • One fun bus experience came with going to a capoeira class with no address! I had to recognize the place, although I’d only been once. After missing the first of two buses of my trip and waiting an extra 20 minutes, I ended up getting off four stops too early and hurriedly walked the rest of the way. I was quite stressed to say the least and worried about how late I would be. Miraculously, I showed up exactly at the time class started and met the teacher walking up the driveway.

  • During this class, my teacher announced we would play a game. The problem was that I didn’t understand a word of the instructions and had to guess what was happening. The good news, is after several rounds of awkwardly mimicking the person next to me, I finally understood the basic concept of the game just in time for it to be over.

  • My second class of taekwondo was similarly memorable. We practiced fighting and I partnered up with a friend I had made, however, she’d been doing it for four years, and I just started that week. I had no idea how to properly defend myself or kick rapidly enough. Halfway through the fight, I gained some insight and started using my arms to block the blows which somehow caused her a similar amount of pain as it did for me. Despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, I still really enjoyed it. I’m also really excited that I may of found a sport that beats up my body just like rock climbing!

These are just a few of many memorable experiences. There was also the time I performed capoeira in front an audience without prior knowledge, tried Zumba for the first time, but barefoot, or when a monk taught me how to meditate in the jungle, but these are stories for another time.

The result of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and embracing the accompanying awkwardness was the chance to try a multitude of new activities in my community and meet interesting people along the way. These past two months in Brasil have made me a great deal more comfortable with myself, which consequently has put me in a better situation to understand the people and culture I’m surrounded by.  I feel truly open, with arms wide open, to embrace any experience  or lesson that comes my way.

I only have five months left on this magical island and I don’t intend for any moment to go unappreciated.

Amor e paz,