I DID IT!!
I'm at level 23 Spanish, studying and watching some tv Spanish shows, but never talking to anyone. I recently went to Peru and the first night was overwhelmed with all the signs in Spanish. But the next day, we took a cab and I thought, what's the worst that can happen. I started a conversation with the driver and talked in Spanish for over 20 minutes. At the end of 2 weeks, I was having regular conversations with vendors, taxi drivers, and tour guides - all in Spanish! I started most conversations with "I apologize for mistakes, I'm just learning the language". Everyone was really great about it. They would speak slowly and repeat anything I didn't get the first time around. It was such a confidence boost and I realized I really can speak Spanish. I have a long way to go, and the conversations weren't too complex, but it was such a great feeling!
This is so great! I experienced something similar the other day and it was the best feeling in the world. I could see the panic in the ladies face turn into warmth as she realized I understood what she was saying. I would love to be able to travel to a spanish-speaking country.