I had a bit of a shocker today. I went out, tried to buy a kebab and a beer, but the place was crowded and I was rehearsing what I had to say and there were lots of people and I didn’t know it was my turn to speak next and the guy got frustrated and I couldn’t pronounce the name of the beer because it was Spanish and I don’t know how Italians read Spanish and he didn’t understand me and people laughed and argh. Apparently I don’t speak Italian.
How do they do it?
I’m not asking how Italians ask Italian (Oh, Frank, you ARE a wit).
What I want to know is this: how do other people cope with tiny, insignificant setbacks like this? If somebody who had studied a language and lived in the country for six months went out to try and get some food, and struggled a bit with some basic structures and conjugations, what stops them beating themselves up about it all the way home?
For me this problem was compounded because eventually the guy pulled the wrong beer out of the fridge. Out of embarrassment I just took it. It was twice as expensive and half as delicious as what I had asked for, and in the end about 2/3 of it went in a bin. I spent the next 15 minutes walking home, berating myself for being shit at Italian and for having made a complete balls-up of my time in this country thus far. I don’t think everybody does this.
This is starting to sound like something I could easily have worked out on my own but writing makes me think about it more. I know that that kind of self-berating is not necessarily a symptom of depression. I know it’s probably more closely related to my own stupidly-low self-esteem. What I’m not sure about is which came first – do I hate myself because I keep telling myself I’m shit, or do I keep telling myself I’m shit because I hate myself? Or both?
I don’t know what causality means
I guess if I had to identify a skill that I wanted to improve on at the moment, it would be that of not taking every little thing I do so seriously. The phrase “it’s not the end of the world” comes to mind. But in that moment, it totally, totally is. Nothing else matters except reminding myself that I should never try, and that I’m a dick for never having tried.
Oh yeah, that. The title. Yeah. Basically I suppose it’s a question of elasticity. My outward self-confidence is quite brittle, and it only takes a short, sharp whack to break straight through it, to what I perceive as the quivering, stuttering mess within. Other people are, I guess, more elastic. These setbacks, presumably, are not such a big deal to them. Things bounce off them more easily. It takes a bit more than a fumbled verb conjugation to send them over the edge.
Back to my original question: how do they do it?
This is not one of those blog posts that really has a point to make or has a solution to offer. I’m really, really not that kind of blogger. If I only posted when I felt I had something to say, I’d never fucking post.
There’s a lot of questions here about internal validation, happiness, insecurity, and so on. It’s probably related to all of these. But apart from anything else, it’s a part of growing up. That kind of perspective, the idea that reality doesn’t collapse in on itself when you fuck up a little bit, is realised as much by time as by any kind of inner sense of self-worth.
Though that last one would be nice too.
More to come.