Last week my job asked if I would be a chaperon for a community service event. The students were supposed to come to pass out flowers to couples walking through Downtown Santa Ana, Ca (where the new job is located).
I agreed to wander around because I knew it would be a good time to get to know some of the students and become more familiar with a town I barely know. And it helped that it meant another day’s pay.
Have you ever agreed to something and realized later where the commitment will place you?
Me too. It happens most frequently when I’m trying to be helpful.
The afternoon started with me and another tutor waiting around 45 min. for any of the students to show. One of the girls did finally show around the same time our supervisor made it (but at least he’d told both of us he’d be there late). So the 4 of us joined the Mariachis late and began handing out roses for Valentine’s Day.
About 2 hours after we started walking through downtown, with me attempting to speak Spanish even 1/10 as well as everyone else in the group (who were all fluent), I looked around and couldn’t help but laugh. The last time I stood out so much in a crowd, I was in a tiny town 2 hours from Nairobi, Kenya.
I loved every meandering moment, understanding around 60% of what the other people in the group were talking about. I can’t tell you what songs the Mariachis played, but I can tell you they were very good musicians. I also learned a way to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in Spanish and that my accent is as bad as I remembered.
If you don’t often get to take the opportunity to intentionally be the person who doesn’t belong, I recommend jumping at the risk. The fleeting discomfort of the intentional outsider moments is a fantastic way to strengthen your self-confidence. When you can’t completely understand what is happening around you, you become what you can rely on.