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N is for Naive

N is for Naive
This entry is part 14 of 27 in the series A to Z

Sometimes I look back and think, “How in the world did I do that?” The answer is often simply naïveté. It’s a beautiful thing.

naive: having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting little or no formal training or technique;

This one comes to mind first. I got a work visa for Germany right after university. There were two programs, one got you a job and a visa, the other just got you the visa and you had to find your own job. I didn’t qualify with enough work experience for the one with the job. “That’s OK,” I told myself, “I’ll find a job.” I was living in Holland with my Dutch girlfriend at the time and I wrote letters, in low-level German, to companies I thought would be interesting to work for. I scoured ads to find anything anywhere. It was slow going, these were snail mail letters and I waited weeks for replies. The consistent theme was, “You seem like a great kid, but, uh, nein.” I wasn’t going to give up. But I needed something to do. I found a book called “Volunteer!” and wrote to those organizations. One replied that they’d be happy to have me. It was restoring historic monuments in France. Sounded good. Sounded like a place I could go. I was running out of options. I filled out the application, paid the fee (fee for a volunteer job?) and headed to France. I learned the history of the abbey and within a few days I was giving tours to the tourists, in French. Young naive American giving tours about a historic abbey somewhere in the north of France to French tourists in French. When there weren’t tourists, I cut rose bushes. I cut a lot of rose bushes. I also got to work on a huge stained glass window. One day, from the only pay phone in the town, I talked to a friend in Germany who had landed me a job (after lots more letters). I’ll never forget getting out of that phone booth and screaming in joy. I finished up my tours, laid the last lead in the window, cut my last rose bush, headed north to Holland to move to Germany.

Maybe this should be a combination post, N is for Naive in Conversation with P is for Persistence.

Maybe I would do a single one of the chain of events today. Certainly not several of them and guaranteed not all of them. But I didn’t know any better. Or I didn’t care, or I didn’t want to know. I just knew what I wanted to do and pretty much nothing was going to stop me. I was naive to think it would work, but I was persistent enough to make it happen.

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  1. Cindy Dwyer

    Great post, Bradley. And so true – half the time we defeat ourselves before we even try. I loved the thought of you giving tours to the locals.

    • Bradley

      Thanks, Cindy. Sometimes we’re just too critical or overly analytical whereas we just need to do it … as if we were kids.

  2. Another Clean Slate

    Glad it all worked out for you- you were definitely persistent! Stopping by from the A-Z Challenge 🙂

  3. Sandy

    Is there a way you can re-arrange your blog. It’s very hard to find a place to leave a comment. You’re in one post and then you see all the stuff about posts up and down without seeing where to leave a comment. It’s like it’s not in order. So I scrolled back up to the start thinking it was one of those with comments before the post…nope not there either. Very confusing. Congrats on getting a job. A-Z


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