Embracing Discomfort

It’s now been a little over two months since my arrival in Berlin. It’s remarkable to me, because if this were a holiday, it would be an extraordinarily long one, but since I’m trying to live here for a while, it feels like no time at all. I had hoped by now I would be fully settled with all my paperwork and with a job. The truth is I haven’t even done the most basic things like registering my address, extending my visa and opening a bank account. I thought all this would be done in my first weeks. It’s come to my attention though that I can be quite impatient and forceful, and also prone to high levels of anxiety. In the case of all of this, I’ve decided to try to lay off the anxious pressure a bit and tell myself that things will happen when they need to. No one will die if I don’t get my registration papers today. Maybe it’s time for a nice coffee instead.

On an emotional level, it’s been quite a roller coaster. When I think of all the states I’ve been through over the past two months, then it does seem like a lot has happened. It’s difficult for me to understand why exactly, but this feels like one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it’s taken an emotional toll I would not have thought possible. I’m happy to say though that I am doing better than when I wrote the last blog post. Little nesting rituals are terribly important to me at the moment. For example, the fact that I own my own bicycle now, not a borrowed one, is very soothing. Every time I get on it, I feel a small sense of peace and happiness, like I have a handle on this little portion of the universe. I’m also glad I’m getting to know the city more, that it feels less threatening to me. Berlin is an abnormally spread out and confusing place, in part due to the fact that it was cut into pieces by the Allies and eventually by an actual wall. Nothing is direct, all streets change names every few blocks, getting anywhere by bike easily takes an hour, and that doesn’t even take into account the more remote parts of the city, which I consider way too far to still be considered Berlin. Actually, those far away bits seem to be where the real Berliners live. The city center is occupied by an astounding number of expats and by young Germans from other areas who’ve come to work in some trendy startup or another.

I seem to be making slow progress in different areas. The most obvious is my German. I’m getting less shy to speak (though I’m still very shy!) I’m always surprised when people in shops understand what I’m trying to say and answer me like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Yesterday, I had my first language exchange with a young man from Northern Germany. We actually had a wonderful time and I felt quite confortable conversing with him. I’m currently communicating with 4 other people who want to do the same, so hopefully, I’ll be fluent soon. I have my first job interview tomorrow, which I’m quite excited about, and I had a running meet-up just the other day. I’m no longer dreadfully tired and overwhelmed like I was during my first few weeks. I certainly don’t have the energy of my party-loving young roommate, whom I just moved in with. I actually revel in staying home and cooking and reading or watching Netflix. I don’t really like being out after dark and, well, it’s dark at 4pm. Not that I haven’t done things. Our dance groups gets lots of invitations to contemporary dance shows, so I’ve seen 4 so far. It’s a different scene from the one I’m used to, but I enjoy seeing shows and discussing them with my classmates afterwards. To be honest, while theatre or opera is a treat for me, contemporary dance shows usually feel like I’m eating my dose of kale. I’m there mostly for learning purposes. The art form does not often reach me.

As for class, I am enjoying myself. Our training is a mix beween learning about the mechanics of our bodies and how to move them, and some more creative, improvisation based research. So we’re working on our bodies, our imagination and our perception. I’m mostly doing it to become a more physically aware actress. I’m getting more comfortable with the group and with my own insecurities regarding my nonexistent technical dance background. It doesn’t sting as much anymore, though I must admit I’ve cried pettily in the bathroom on more than one occasion because I couldn’t keep up. If I can get through this training with more wisdom and humility than I started, the temporary pain and humiliation will have been worth it. And my personal pride and terror of looking ridiculous or incompetent has been a huge block to me all my life. Time to start chipping away at it.

I do feel a bit lost. Not quite sure what I am anymore. Don’t really feel like an actress, don’t feel like much of anything. I’m just sort of there. A girl in Berlin, who comes from somewhere else. Another wanderer in a city of travellers and displaced people. Here, I have no past. My past is meaningless. And when I look into my future, it’s all dark. Maybe once I get over how devastatingly uncomfortable this is, I’ll start to find it liberating. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.