There's a book out there, which has been out for a long time, called Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. I think Fear is a big part of my problem with everything. I've been browsing a lot of expat blogs recently, rekindling my "Stranger in a strange land" thoughts and feelings to add to this blog as I fancy. I was just browsing one such blog, In Tea We Trust, by an American Expat who's lived in the UK for 9 months. She talked about how she is fearful of a lot of things here, I suppose because they are so alien. Everyone has a comfort zone, and as Americans, I think a lot of us are quite cocky while in our comfort zones. When we're in that bubble we think we can take over the world, we became immune to the fear of being "outside."
And then you come to a different country, where you're the "odd one out" and suddenly you think about EVERYTHING way too much. This, for a stammerer, means that on top of the usual over-thinking you do about your speech and speaking situations, you now have a whole new host of random non-speaking (or lack of speaking) situations to muse over:
Need to open a bank account? Even though you've had one for x number of years at home, you'll need about 5 hours of your free time to spend in the bank, and proof of your address. Although, to get proof of your new address you really need a bank statements to prove it. (Figure that one out for me!)
Need to learn to drive, even though you've driven to x number of years in the states (practically since you hit puberty). Well, you'll have to start from scratch in most cases and take a stupid road theory test, and PAY someone to sit beside you and tell you all things you're doing wrong while driving. (This took me over a year of lessons, 2 instructors and 7 tests to only get an AUTOMATIC license!)
Need to find a job, even though you've worked for x number of year and have x qualifications. You'll need to sell yourself to the Brits in a different way.
They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, losing a loved one is also right up there. I lost my mom, graduated from college (University) with two Bachelor of Art degrees, and moved to England all in the space of 13 months. As one of my very best friends says: "Julia, you never do anything small."
So, it's easy to guess that my adjustment to the UK has been a very slow process. I think as a stammerer as well, I lost a lot of my assertiveness when I moved here. Whereas before, I HAD to talk to people to an extent. I went to college (UK term: University) classes and did class presentations (which I never did very well in but passed), hell, I even had to do a public speaking summer class. But, then with moving here, the comfort zone of college was gone, the comfort zone of my family was gone, and I was looking for a job and still very much grieving my mom. No wonder I basically became a recluse.
It took me almost three years to try to snap out of this, probably because I was fearful of changing this learned behaviour of: the avoidance of meeting new people, answering the telephone, holding back when I really want to be assertive. And since I've started on this road to recovery as it were, I find that facing my fears is the only way to move forward.
After being quite ill for a week, thank you seasonal/swine/piglet/big bird flu, I need to begin again today; I need to attack that fear that comes from being out of practice with various things. Then tomorrow I get to do a session on Assertiveness to a room of McGuirees! :)