Isn’t it weird how much can change in a year? There are certain moments in life that make most people stop and take a look back. Today I did this. I thought it would be a good idea to look back, to reflect, to write something about how moving to Thailand over a year ago has changed my life. To my surprise, I got really sad.
No matter what we do, no matter how normal or out of the ordinary we decide to make our lives, all of us will go through good times, and really, really hard times. Every time I take a look back at a year, or a period of time I think to myself: “That was the best year of my life and the hardest year ever”. It’s a growing theme, especially for the last couple of years. Looking back on a year living abroad has been no different.
When I look back to a year ago, I remember the reasons I decided to come here. The reasons were a mixture between wanting to do something more fulfilling, that put my skill set to better use than it currently was, and because I was very unhappy with the life I was living. It did involve a break-up and therefore having to find somewhere else to live. It did involve having next to no friends in the place I was living. And it definitely involved a thought in my head and a feeling in my heart that I had lived in the same town for 5 years and that was too long.
One day, I discussed this feeling that I needed to keep moving with a trusted friend and excellent advisor. They told me about a theory that there is a “Nomad” gene within humans, as there is in animals. In the natural world, this occurs so that certain individuals will leave their home and increase the possibility of finding better habitats, more food sources, or new mates to widen the gene pool. It’s a theory that I love to think about whenever I get this longing to move, without a real reason.
I’m also just used to moving. In 24 years I’ve lived in 15 different homes, 4 towns and 2 countries. My sadness today has come from a little bit of fear and self-doubt that maybe I came here just to run away from something. But actually, that’s the silver lining of being unhappy. It gives you all the motivation in the world to go for something you’ve always wanted to do, or to just take a chance. I won’t go into all the other difficult things that have happened in the last 24 years, all I will say is that it was a lot to fit in around all the usual stuff like getting an education and finding jobs, so I will forgive myself for feeling so overwhelmed for so much of it. I will accept that I really didn’t have the time to focus on myself through most it, and for that reason I held myself back. I didn’t go for any job or opportunity unless I felt like my chances of getting it were almost 100%. I didn’t speak out about or make things because I didn’t think anyone else would like or care about what I was presenting. For a long time I just sort of, panicked.
When it all came down to a pretty bad scenario and a big decision I decided to flip my world upside down, literally. Moving to Thailand did not stop me feeling self-doubt or sadness. It didn’t change the person I am. Moving to Thailand built me up and grew the person I am by showing me a different side of the coin. There are things out here that really are worth worrying about on a daily basis, like giant spiders taking residence on your bed, or the potential to get tropical diseases from a mosquito, or the need to have emergency water and power at hand encase there is another 6 hour power and water outage without warning. For the most part, Thailand has taught me how to be more realistic about my priorities and to think a lot less about the past and the future (evidently, sometimes I still do). There’s plenty happening right now to be getting on with before giving to much thought to anything else. So go live as best you can, and remember to take it easy because this thing called life is not so open to what we like to call plans!