Make yourself uncomfortable (or ‘Why I write in English’)

For those who did not realize it, English is not my first language. I am French and I speak French. I started with writing in English (publicly) with my previous blog. I changed the name and it became In Space We Trust. In fact writing in English is not comfortable for me. It itches, it is a pain. So I questioned myself: Why do I write in English on this blog? Why do I continue with this thing that makes me feel awkward?

This post was supposed to be an excuse post. An excuse for not having a perfect grammar or for my lack of vocabulary, but now I don’t care. I read this post by Pat Flynn and realized that it really does not matter.

I have never tried really hard to learn English. My Mom paid for English lessons when I was a kid but I was unable to really express anything more than “My name is Manuel and I am 8” for what I remember. I had problems with my english teacher in Junior High School. I did not like her, at all. I was also too shy and I didn’t want to talk or participate in the class and my progress was really minimal.

And then High School happened and I must say my English teachers did not help me at all. But I started to go to this little movie theatre called “Les Studios” in Tours, my hometown. And specificity of this movie theatre was that all the movies were in original language. This is how I got better. I watched tons of movies over there (most of them in English of course). When I reached college I decided to stop going to the mandatory english classes. I got a couple of problems with the university administration for skipping classes but since I had good grades nobody could really say anything. I was not super fluent though.

This is when I met Kate. She would become my wife eventually. She is American. She speaks French really fluently so I did not have to make any effort to talk to her. But I had to talk her family and friends. So I started reading intensively in English which was surprisingly not so difficult. Fast forward seven years >>>> I open a blog in English.

I think the first reason was because I was reading many blogs in English. I was commenting in English and after a point I decided to express my own ideas outside of the comment sections of other blogs.

But  I could have done the same thing starting with French blogs and open a blog in French. So why English?

Many people tell I am not really French. I must say I appreciate when somebody tells me this. It’s not that I don’t like being French. It is more that it feels good to be able to define myself without any origin constraint. Define myself for who I want to be. I always had a fascination for the North American culture (as much for the good reasons as for the bad ones) and I have always been pulled toward it.

I think this why I write in English. Because it is fun and because I love connecting with people (and if they are english speakers it is even better).

And there is something else too. It scares me. I makes me uncomfortable like I said before.  I think the real reason is I want to test the edge. I started to write in English because it makes me better. I am building a new skill. Writing in English is like staying balanced on one foot. It is not super comfortable but it is ok. The thing is when you start feeling comfortable on one foot, you feel awesome when your two feet touch the ground. When I started reading books in English, I had to really select ‘easy’ books. Now that I write in English I can pretty much read any book in English.This is why I write in English and I feel more comfortable very time I hit publish. It still feels awkward but it is getting better.

So I want to push a little more. I have some ideas of stuff to publish. I was talking about this stuff to my voice memo application on my iPod yesterday. I stopped because even talking about it to my iPod felt too crazy. It was about doing what I love, walk toward another edge… crazy… And since I start to feel comfortable with writing in English, this is time to go toward the crazy ideas. It is the right direction, probably uncomfortable but right. And I will talk about on this blog. I just need to geek out and tell my voice memo first.

Did you ever try to make yourself uncomfortable? Believe me, it itches, it can hurt too. It can make you feel like shit. I know what I am talking about: I am too shy to express my ideas to my iPod and then I talk about it here. I will probably feel bad tomorrow when I will read this again. My resistance will ask me why I talk about it. This why I will quickly finish this post and hit publish (sorry for the lack of edition, I just want it to stay as is)

How do you make yourself uncomfortable in what you do? What do you get from being uncomfortable? I would love to know.

If you liked this post I would really appreciate that you retweet it, share it on Google+ (here are some invitations if you don’t already have a G+ account) or talk about it the way you want on the platform you prefer to use.

Like I said, I have some crazy ideas (and I know they are crazy because I am sweating as I am writing this). So if you want to follow me where I go, subscribe and receive my posts in your mailbox or also subscribe to the rss feed.

And I would really make me happy if you leave a comment below.

Thank you,


  • Hey Manu,

    Great post, I admire you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone like that. Big time. I’ll need to start doing the same with Spanish myself soon.

    As for making myself uncomfortable, I’m about to go dance my ass off in front of family and friends at a wedding, completely sober. Reminding myself: “We’re all fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”

    Keep the posts coming, my friend.

    • Thanks Niall.
      Sometimes I think my wife is drunk at parties when she is actually not. but since everyone thinks it is normal and justified, it is ok and nobody thinks it’s weird.
      Does anybody ask you if you are really sober when you dance your ass off?
      Alcohol is sometime just a license for the crazies.

  • Alyson Earl

    Au jourd’hui j’ai un cadeau pour vous: j’ecrive en Francais. C’est quel que chose de quoi j’ai peur.

    Un question: Ou puis-je trouver les lettres avec des accents, circonflexes, et cedilles?

    Merci beaucoup pour l’invitation de Google+, maintenant je suis tres ‘cool’!

  • Hi,

    Brave! But you don’t need to downplay your English skills. If you didn’t say, I wouldn’t know you weren’t a native speaker.

    I’m learning Thai. I can read most books now, with the aid of a dictionary, but writing? Not for another ten years I think.

    Keep the ideas coming,

    • Thank you for the compliment Kit!
      And I’m happy to realize that many didn’t realize I was not a native speaker. It still gives me headaches sometime though!
      As everything in life, it’s not a matter of mastering but a matter of confidence.
      How long have you been studying Thai?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Manu

    Wow! I wouldn’t have guessed that English was not your first language. Testament to what can happen if you put your mind to something, and push those (comfort) boundaries.


    Funnily enough I was watching a French film last night and Amy and I were talking about how we’d quite like to live in France for a while. My French is OK – pretty much what I can remember from school and what I picked up whilst traveling there in my younger days. Watching the film I actually said “I’m not sure I’d ever be able to pick up the language well enough to live there” – of course, this isn’t true.

    If we do ever end up going over there, then maybe you and I can have a conversation in French!


    • Thanks Steve!
      I know a lot of people from Great Britain who are interested in living in France or actually live in France.
      I would be a pleasure to meet you and talk in French, however I am living in Canada now… just a little farther :)
      Strangely I have the same feeling about North America than English people have about France (for what they told me): it’s bigger and there is more room for everybody.

  • Like Steve said, I wouldn’t have guessed you weren’t a native if you hadn’t said so. Fair play for doing that, though. While I was reading I wondered whether or not I’d be able to do the same thing (write consistently and eloquently in another language). I think I’m a way off being able to do that.

    Keep pushing the edges.

    • Hi Joe!

      Writing in another language does not have to be your edge to push… I can’t imagine me playing guitar and this is something you have apparently worked on based on your avatar.

      Thank you for the comment.

  • Emiel

    I know the feeling Manu! I am Dutch and started to write in English right from the beginning of my blog 1.5 years ago. I guess it is my study of Japanese and International Marketing that has always made me feel like a global citizen rather than a Dutch one.
    Your English is flawless and I am very, very interested to learn about your new crazy ideas! I always felt I couldn’t start an online business in English or even write a full (E-) book, just because it’s not my native language. I am curious to learn how you are developing your skills further!

    • Thanks for the comment Emiel and for your compliment on my English.
      I have to talk more about my crazy ideas to mu iPod. Actually when you verbalize them and chew on them a little, they don’t appear so crazy. I’ll soon publish about it.

  • Good on you for writing in English, Manu. I’ve decided to do the same, to be able to talk to a much wider and international audience. But the funny part is that English comes natural to me: I don’t experience that uncomfortable feeling you describe. I started learning English and even thinking in English as a kid and would replace words I didn’t know with ones that I made up. Today, I still find myself thinking in English a lot when I’m alone! (Who talked about crazy?)

    • Thank you for the comment.
      I also think in English, mostly for technical/organizing processes.
      I feel English being more left brain and latin languages more right brain.
      Oh also, it’s more fun to swear in English… And I can get away with it by saying I did not realize my strong language.

  • Jonathan Ziemba

    Before I get to your question on my edge, uncomfortableness, let’s look inside a single word, recognition. When someone lands on your site, and reads your posts, what do they recognize? Do they recognize you, Manuel, as a fellow edge traveler? Despite massive differences that can seemingly separate us, social, religious, spacial, economic, language, or do they recognize a typo thus bringing down their mountain.

    What do you fellow web traveler recognize at In Space We Trust?

    I see depth, peering across your pages, I see Manuel, and we are walking together, not merely listening to each other.

    Where is my edge?
    It is in the living, it is in the beauty, it is in the capacity where my self is not.

  • Hi Manu! I am so glad that I found your blog via Mark. This is fantastic. I love that you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone! I did not know that English was not your first language, but now it makes me even more impressed with your ability to communicate and your craft of my native language. Beautiful. I look forward to reading more from you!

  • What a great post, now i’m 100% sure to write in english after reading this post
    i had written in Indonesia before, because that is my native languagenow i have to change everything :D