Monday, April 19, 2010

Pressing the easy button too many times makes things harder

Taking the easy way out of things takes less time, is less frustrating, and is quite helpful. However in my case the easy way is holding me back and ultimately creating more frustration within myself.

What I am mostly talking about is communication, which is my biggest obstacle here and results in most of my frustration. What is so hard for me to swallow is that I pride myself in being a great communicator. I know how to weave words so well to explain anything I mean and any idea I have within me. Any friend of mine knows I am not shy with my feelings. I go by the motto “say what you need to say.” This is all in English of course. It is such a strange feeling having so much inside of you to say and not being able to say it. For me sometimes I open my mouth and nothing comes out. I could just babble out words in English, but that’s all it would be to the listener, babble. I find no comfort in saying something that I know someone won’t understand.

To have a good working relationship with a supervisor good communication is a must. The person here who acts as my immediate supervisor, the director of the my youth center, is the person who I have the worst communication with. He speaks no English and always speaks Arabic too quickly for me. The way I have been combating this problem is to talk to him through people in my life who speak English well. When this became an option for me I was thrilled, I though my problems were over.

After months of communicating like this I’ve realized that it isn’t helping anything. I still think the communication is bad and I have no confidence in myself to communicate on my own. I am so tired of hearing the words “what did she say” or “tell her…”. It makes me feel like a child when I know very well I am a 23 year old smart and capable woman. Again, anyone who knows me knows that I am an independent person by nature and as an American I am raised to be. When I first joined Peace Corps all my independence was stripped of me and slowly I have been gaining it back. I would like to get my ability to communicate back as well. Of course this is the hardest thing.

I have a number of people in my life who speak good English and this is great because I have people who I can talk to about nearly anything and I can have an interesting and well rounded conversation. Whenever one of these people are present when I am struggling to communicate with a non-English speaker they immediately come to my rescue. I know they are trying to help and I am thankful for that, but this is holding me back. My best efforts in speaking Arabic have come when I am forced to speak it. When there is no other option. And there is no one at my back to save me.

Sometimes in these situations I need to break out the miming technique, which takes the ability to not take yourself too seriously, but is very effective. It takes patience in myself and hopefully some patience from the other speaker. I am becoming more and more insistent to the person to speak slowly and repeat if necessary so together we can get the point across.

I’m just now realizing that I’ve had enough of the easy button. I am happy with every chance I get to communicate on my own. I think that I am going to start creating more opportunities like this for me and I am going to politely explain to those who have my back that in order for me to start feeling more confident with myself I need to start relying on them less.