Sunday, January 13, 2013
31Ways2GetItStarted™!: January 13, 2013
Day 13: Don't Worry About What Other People Think.
Otherwise known as, don’t waste time trying to be cool. Because honestly all the cool kids are boring. Because if you’re worried about being cool, I guarantee that you’re not engaged in the messy, irritating, exhausting, wonderful, terrifying, liberating process that is changing your life and achieving your goals. If you’re worried about cool, all you can do is worry about being cool. Which is way uncool...right?
True story: when I spent my junior year of Wellesley College in Russia, I simply could not, at first, improve my Russian. I sounded like a very "special" toddler. All because I was so embarrassed to use my Russian, and make mistakes in public. I was mortified to make mistakes. So I hung around Russians who wanted to improve their English, and for f**k’s sake, here I’ve been living in Petrozavdodsk for 6 months, and I still can’t figure out how to say “laundry” in Russian. #FAIL! Eventually I said, “Screw this,” and resolved to do whatever it took to master Russian.
Yes indeedy: I sounded pretty pathetic for a significant period. How much fun was it to have people giggle at my accent/horrible grammar etc.? Oh, so much fun. And then—I’ll never forget this—I was at a party (…listen, it’s -20 degrees, there’s not much heat or hot water, and we had sunlight for about 2 hours a day. Yeah, you’d be drinking vodka with friends and celebrating that it’s Tuesday, also!), and a friend told a joke. In Russian. And I understood the joke as she told it. I laughed as she told the punchline, NOT 5 minutes later as I mentally translated the joke, because...I got the joke in Russian. If you haven’t gone fully “native” in a foreign country and endured a long period of waking up exhausted and going to bed exhausted as you try to do basic errands, due to the complexity of the language and the culture baffling you…well, you probably won’t know what it means to have that “gotcha” minute. But I’ll never forget it. I had made that decision to speak Russian, and “suddenly” here I was, at a party, laughing at wonderfully malicious jokes and drinking moonshine: ahh, life was good.
But the Americans who wanted to stay cool? Those were the people who could barely say “hello” in Russian. And how uncool is it to live in a foreign country for years and never be able to speak the language? #Losers! (I worked with a correspondent who would read passionately the history of other countries, even as he was living in Moscow, with it's centuries of world-altering history. And all he could talk about was the "peasantry" of Russia and how they had no culture worth bothering about. Really. Interesting. Oh, what's that you say? This genius of history's TV career is now over? Even with a face that was made for radio? Oh, what a shame. PUNK!)
Grumpy. People who put Russia down make me a wee bit grumpy. That is true. Also stupid people. Also, stupid TV correspondents but that's redundant.
Anyhoo. Today is Sunday and it's Sunday all day! Take a break, put your feet up, have a drink. Eat something fried. Shower with a friend…or two. (Baby, it’s cold out there!) Because come Monday morning, you’re going to get right back to the uncool labor of changing your life. Which is kind funny, because when it works out, all your friends are going to be thinking,” Damn, how cool is that?!”
Want some help achieving those super cool goals? Email me @firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a shout-out in the comments!