In a few short days, with my one-way ticket and single-entry, non-immigrant visa in hand, I will begin my journey to the other side of the world — more specifically, Thailand. Months of preparation and excitement have, this week, culminated in a jumble of nerves. So here I am, nervously typing out my thoughts on my impending departure.
What inspires a person to get up and leave her comfortable lifestyle? Uproot, and move half a world away from the places and the people that have, up until this point, always defined her? I see these questions in the eyes of the people I tell about my trip. They don’t usually say it, at least not directly: “Thailand, huh? Wooow.” You’re nuts, is what they’re thinking. They smile, but the shadow of skepticism inches across their face; they ask polite questions until they can escape the conversation and revert quietly back to their comfortable routine.
That, exactly that. That’s why I’m moving to Thailand. To escape the routine and the entitlement and instead challenge my mindset and learn to live with less. And by less I do not simply mean fewer possessions, although that is inevitable when packing five months’ worth of possessions in a single backpack, but rather less security, structure, mundaneness, and habit. I am on a quest to discover what resides beyond the outer limits of my comfort zone. Oh, and I’m also terrified of what lies beyond, so I’m expecting to be uncomfortable.
Note to self: remember this feeling on the first day of class when 30+ students are staring up at me expectantly and I’m too nervous to speak; remember this feeling when the language barrier seems impossible to overcome, the culture shock shakes me, and things don’t go as planned.
I had a professor in college who firmly believed that unless you were uncomfortable, you were not growing. “The minute you start to feel comfortable,” he advised, “is the minute you need to change something. Strive to always be growing.” In sum: strive to always be uncomfortable. I’m comfortable now: I’m living back with my parents; I have an income; I have healthy relationships. And I’m restless. I’m hungry to see more, to feel more, to do more. It’s time for a little self discovery; let’s see what I can do.
Each week, the planner I use offers a quotation — some words of wisdom, if you will. Next week (otherwise known as the week that I fly out of the States to jump into the unknown) the quotation, taken from the words of Thomas Edison, reads, “If we did all things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
I’m trying to astound myself.
Originally published October 22, 2017 on CIEE Teach Abroad Thailand.