Being scared to fail.
Watching grown men in a Business English class try to act out ‘cat’ because they had forgotten the word for it made it clear: only those who try have even a chance of getting it right. Maybe I would have to look silly, maybe it was not my personality, but I was going to be the only one who miss out on learning if I never left my comfort zone.
I forced myself to release my inhibitions as I was learning Portuguese. I told my English students every day that they had to stop worrying about making mistakes or embarrassing themselves, that they just needed to speak as much and often as they could, and had to take my own advice. I began to speak to everyone I met. They corrected me when I needed it, and were impressed by me many times that I had been sure I was saying it wrong and had almost held back. In speaking a new language, in meeting new people, in life, I stopped giving a sh*t about whether I would fail or not and just went for it.