When I tell people that I’m afraid of lots of things and that I worry all the time they usually don’t believe me. That is because if I talk about stuff like that I talk to people that I already know. They would say “Hey, you’ve packed your stuff a while ago and just moved to Ireland for a year. Then you came back and four weeks later you’ve packed your stuff again and moved to Cologne without knowing anyone there. How can you say you’re afraid of things?” Well, that’s true. When I moved to Ireland to work as an au pair, I didn’t know anyone there; I didn’t even know the family I was going to move in with and when I came back I had made so many experiences and met so many great people, some of them are really good friends of mine now. But when I went there I was scared. I was excited, of course, I was looking forward to make this experience but I was scared that I might be alone all the time. What if I don’t meet anyone I like there? What if the people I move in with are complete lunatics? What if my English is so bad that I don’t understand anyone… It was my own decision to go so I couldn’t blame anyone but let’s just say I was terrified. Before I went there I was pretty shy. People wouldn’t believe me because once I know people I keep talking and am really outgoing but before I know them I worry a lot about what they think of me and if they like me and all. In my experience, most of the girls who went to be an au pair had the same problem but we all had to be outgoing during this year, we were all scared to end up by ourselves so we kept going out, talking to strangers, meeting everyone we could. And it was a great experience. Ireland made it easy for me as well, it’s not hard to meet people, because everybody loves to talk and if you’re from a foreign country everyone will be very nice and ask you about it all the time. That’s when I lost the fear of talking to strangers (or at least it became a bit easier for me).
When I moved to Cologne it was the same. I didn’t know anyone and I had to start a real job. I was scared of everything. This huge city (which now seems so small to me sometimes), the huge hospital I was supposed to work in, all the new people… On my first day at work I was afraid that I had forgotten everything that I’ve ever known about nursing so I just kept quiet. I barely talked to anyone, not my co-workers, not the patients. After a few days I realized, that there were a lot of new people there and most of them didn’t have any experience, either. So I became a bit more confident and started talking and asking questions.
I always have the feeling that people could think I am stupid. I think about what they are thinking about me and stuff. If you start a new job here you probably won’t get a long-term contract in the first place. You have a test phase of about half a year and during this time you can quit your job easily if you realize you don’t like it but your boss can also make you leave if you don’t fit in or something. Every time I asked a question I was wondering if people would think I’m stupid and would ask me to quit. Every single time.
They didn’t ask me to leave. And I stayed. I even became friends with some of my co-workers which made life so much easier here. It’s still not easy for me to meet new people because I am shy and all (and all of the other stuff written above) but there is this line from a song: “Life’s too short to be afraid” and I try to think of that every time I don’t do a thing because I’m too scared.
Do you have any problems like these as well? Do you know anything that I could do about it?