More than 2 years have passed since I left Cameroon to Uganda and from Uganda to the USA. It has been an amazing journey of discovery marked by the revelation of my true passion for bringing change through writing. In this article, I would like to share some mistakes I did in this journey and how I turned them into directions for a better integration.
I learned quite a lot from those mistakes and I am happy they gave me a greater sense of responsibility. Before reading my story, you could watch the following video of Yubing Zhang talking about her experience outside her comfort zone during a speech at TedxStanford.
Speaking the Same Language Does not Guarantee Trust. One of the first mistakes I did was to think that speaking the same language is a good sign that you can share privacy with others. What a deception to notice that It was not the case. I sadly discovered that being new in an environment makes you vulnerable to the curiosity of many.
I became afraid to trust anyone speaking the same native language with me but, I also needed them to understand the new environment. I learned the true meaning of trust and how to take time to build genuine foundations for confidence with others.
You better be Alone than Having Fake Friends. The second mistake was to try to build friends without defining boundaries. I met some dangerous genius fake friends who could play the game of sharing their life with me in other to create trust; without realizing, I considered them as authentic and also started sharing my life. It was the greatest of my mistake in those 2 years.
The greatest of the lessons out of this mistake was to settle bounderies in relationships. I had to come to the evidence that building friendship must be goal-oriented. Later on I discovered the win-win approach for successfull friendships and started applying it with satisfactory results.
My Work Place is not a Private Place. Being new in a country could be more challenging than one could imagine. Because one does not have relationships, the workplace becomes where familiarities are easily developed. I felt so comfortable that I could do simple things like walking around in a workplace, looking for a charger for my phone that was going off, talking with a female colleague, charging my phone using a computer , not thinking it could be analyzed as suspicious behaviors.
The first idea that came into my mind when I noticed the suspicious attitudes was to quit. But I decided to stay and learned how to manage a workplace in a more professional way.
Help may come from unexpected people. I am really amazed by the number of unknown people who supported me and my family. People we just said a “hello” of greating for the first time. Strangely, those we were expecting the most were the one who disappointed us the most; what I mean is that we made the mistake of closing our relationship circle because we were foreigners. Hoping that the best help will probably come from those surrounding us.
I now understand that everywhere, I need to be kind with everybody because I don’t know whose of these people will be God’s angel help in a situation. A simple “Good morning” could open unexpected great opportunities.
I surely have a lot to learn in the coming days, weeks and years outside comfort zones, but these 4 lessons are helping me to manage a lot of stressful situations. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to be afraid to make mistakes: They are part of the growth process.
I would like to hear from your experience outside your country’s comfort zone.