Mary Shannon and the High Life

Being At Ease While Out of Your Element

Posted on: April 22, 2008

I’ve come to realize that, all things considered, I’m pretty comfortable when out of my element.

I’m sure I will run into situations that may make me uneasy, but a big part of dealing with such a feeling is recognizing just what is making you uncomfortable.

Back in March Michael and I traveled to Jamaica as part of an incentive reward program from one of our suppliers. They wined and dined us, and put us up in accommodations much nicer than anything we would ever choose ourselves.  But our favorite time came when we went into Mo’bay with some other couples to check out the jerk food at “the Pork Pit”. The newbies to Jamaica wanted to hit the crafts market that they had read about in guide books, so we went with the.

Now Michael and I had made many trips to Jamaica before, so while the market is something I would have given a pass to, I was fully prepared for what met us as we approached. By the time we got to the entry we had quite an entourage that had  joined us casually as friends and were now pleading/insisting that we come to their stall. Michael and I bantered back with them and saw what we could. But when we looked out on the street a few minutes later there was the rest of our group huddled like displaced people with nowhere to go.

Turns out they were all uncomfortable  and one woman just plain scared at what she saw as an onslaught of aggressive people. And since they all happened to be black, she was afraid of appearing racist if she stood up for herself and refused to do what they asked her to do.

The encouraging thing was she was bothered by her reaction, and talked about it for some days. She said she used to travel when she was young, and never felt uncomfortable. She couldn’t quite understand why this experience had unnerved her so.

I am now a firm believer in traveling to those places that challenge your comfort level. I think our minds and emotional responses to things need stretching just like muscles. Like anything else, one can increase one’s flexibility with some deliberate effort.


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