Be gentle with yourself – Roches Noires Cave Trial

It’s definitely good to come out of our cave from time to time but we get the most out of it only when we are ready…

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Those who know me say I am a very outgoing person. I’m easy to talk to and not afraid to ask strangers for help or directions. I traveled on my own and now live in my third foreign country. You would have though that I’m not afraid of anything, particularly people. Well, I am only human:)

We’ve been here almost a month and T. suggested we join a local Hash run (it’s a drinking group with a running problem;) – Find out more here). Since it’s obvious that when you live in a foreign country and you don’t know anyone, the only way to meet people is to go out, I’ve said yes. Unwillingly to be honest, but I was thinking this is what we SHOULD do. Deep inside I was shit scared. Here is my inner monologue that followed the decision: What shoes should I wear? What if they don’t like me? What if they will ask me to run? I don’t run! I don’t want to run! You need to bring lunch to share? What should I cook? Will they like it? What if I bring not enough food? Maybe I’ll bake a cake, yes I’m good at baking. They will like me if I bake a nice cake. And this sort of thoughts were haunting me for a week, till the Saturday before the Hash, when I broke down, started crying and said that I don’t want to go. We didn’t go. We waited another two weeks when I decided I’m ready and we had a great time yesterday.

For the sake of understanding how human inner-self works, I’d like to dissect this very interesting situation and show what filters we put on our thinking that stop us from enjoying new experiences:

  1. I should go – I’m the first person who would say to anyone (including myself) ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. But it’s not always the case. Especially, when we think we SHOULD do something. The ‘shoulds’ often come from our own need to show others how ‘cool’ we are, when in reality we are as scared as anyone else. It would be so cool to tell my friends in Poland that I’ve been in Mauritius only for few weeks and I’ve already met so many amazing people. They’d think I’m so adventurous. How to recognize when we do something because we think someone expects it from us (regardless if they do or don’t)? It doesn’t feel right. We are not looking forward to it and the first 3hrs are not fun! Well, definitely I wasn’t looking forward to this event and was stubborn enough to convince myself to go for a whole week.
  2. I want to make a good impression/ I want them to like me – With the prospect of being exposed to a group of strangers, I took my proven ‘cake’ approach. I’m good at baking cakes + People like cakes = when I bake a nice cake, they will like me. The deceptiveness of such thinking is my assumption that people will like me because of something, not because of who I am. I was not thinking: I‘m such a nice girl, interesting, smart… I was thinking: The only thing I can offer to others is the cake. My advice to myself (and other) is to have more faith in yourself! The universe helped me to come to that conclusion – on Saturday before the 2nd run I’ve baked this new amazing zebra cake to take with me. It was a lot of work but the cake didn’t come out well at all. It had a sad layer (what an interesting English phrase – it was really SAD for me!) and some weird air holes. When I cut it half, it looked like Spielberg’s alien. E.T. stayed home and I went to the run (after a bit of support talk from my sister) without a cake. I went as Marlena, not a brilliant cake maker, and still made friends! Impossible! My whole world is turned upside down!
  3. I want to get as much as I can from the experience – In general the idea of going out to meet people is quite selfish. We don’t want to be on our own, so we venture out there to meet others. We focus on what we can get from our future ‘victims’ – company, contacts, business prospects, advice… Everyone have their own reasons. But what if we start from thinking what we can give? What if we go somewhere to meet people and we listen to THEIR story? We don’t have to offer our own experience to EVERY subject raised. If we focus on devoted listening, we get so much more! Plus, with this approach, we don’t have to worry so much about what we SHOULD say, to make a good impression.
  4. I have to push through – When the first ‘failed’ attempt happened, it was the week before my period. I was moody and unhappy. And since we live in Mauritius, I couldn’t complain about the weather too much, so my unhappiness was not expressed… I wanted to stay home and cry because we don’t recycle our plastic. And that would be the best thing for me to do. We don’t always have to push through and force ourselves to do stuff. Some weeks in our cycle women can party all night and go to work the next day and some weeks we want to stay home, eat ice-cream and watch Gossip Girl. And it’s completely fine.

Once I lived through all of it: got my period, baked the cake and failed, decided I would like to go and that the best thing I can do is to listen, I was ready to make it out there to meet new people. And there was no anxiety before the meeting and no nervousness during. I was wearing my normal walking shoes and they were just fine. Nobody forced me to run, and the trick was to say I’d prefer to walk. Imagine that! And there were others walking too. I met wonderful, inspiring people, who told some amazing stories. I’ve seen the marvelous Roches Noires Caves that not many locals, not to mention tourists, get to see. And today I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I waited till I’m ready & didn’t force myself to go when I wasn’t.


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