Onward and upward

I’ve been rereading some of my older blog posts, and I finished with the most recent, My Letter. I actually cried a little reading it. I’m not every inch the person I want to be yet. I’m still a lot heavier than I like to be, and not as strong, and I want to speak more easily and naturally in French. But I look at my day-to-day life right now, the choices I’m making and the things I’m doing, and they all lead me to exactly where I want to be.

On May 12, I started something I’m calling Operation HAS-BEEN (“hot again soon, been entirely enough neglect”). It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve made a real and sustained effort to get back into shape. I want to feel good in my skin again, and I want to be STRONG so I can do some real snowboarding this winter. It has been nearly two months, and I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve lost around 14 pounds, and I’ve made great strength gains. By the end of this year, I should be back to where I like to be, fit and strong and ready to throw Meatsuit at anything.

On May 9, I finished my full-time French courses. I felt great about the progress I’d made and ready to start trying to find work in the region. I had a few interviews, including one a hotel that went exceptionally well. This week, I started training there to be a receptionist.

I’ve had some people mention the “B” word (“BRAVE”) to me as we’ve discussed me moving here, trying to learn French and get by in a strange new place. I never felt very brave; I felt I was doing the only things I could do based on the twists and turns my life had taken. Now, however, I do feel a bit brave. For me, bravery seems to be about fear and lying. My French has come a long way in the last two years, but it’s still pretty rough around the edges. I have no difficulty anymore doing anything I need to do around here. I didn’t even need the bilingual staff at my dentist’s office to speak to me in English. HOWEVER…

Now that I’m at the front desk of a hotel, greeting people, doing check-ins, soon to be responsible for taking reservations, answering questions, solving problems, and ensuring our guests have a great experience, it feels very different than just “getting by” when I have personal tasks to accomplish. The French I was so proud of seems messy and often inadequate. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being less than what people expect or need me to be, afraid of causing inconvenience or irritation when I want to be offering great service, afraid of not being up to the task, afraid of letting myself down, afraid of disappointing the administrators who took a chance on the Anglophone with the rough French and the big smile.

And bravery, to me, means lying about that, faking it until I make it. It means pushing through with a smile when I stutter over my word choices. It means presenting a friendly, confident face to the world to hide the frightened child that lives inside me at that moment. It means ignoring the little voice that is screaming at me that it’s absolutely ridiculous that I’m trying to do this, that I’m going to fail, that I’m not good enough, and despite the noise that voice is making in my head, doing my best to engage strangers in friendly conversation.

Perhaps that’s not what some consider to be brave. However, when I take a deep breath, pick up that phone for the first time, and say, “Merci d’avoir appelé l’hôtel Delta. Mon nom est Megan, comment est-ce que je peux vous aider?” and then listen to the voice on the other end, the voice that belongs to a person who expects me to help them, I’m pretty sure THAT will take some bravery.

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