A move to Thailand, and why you don’t need to be normal to be happy

Commitment

Now that’s a scary word. I’ve done a lot of unnerving things in my life. I’ve lived in the woods, walked across a country, touched a snake (my all time worst fear), moved across country by myself, flown to London alone at age ten, faced final exams in college, dealt with cockroach infestations, brown recluse spiders in the shower, routinely had less than $20 in my bank account, lived in Philadelphia… but none of that can hold a flame to that single, terrifying, word:

commitment.

In the past 8 years I have moved at least ten times. Picking up and starting over in a new place has become the norm. People think it’s brave or exciting that I would move across the country, but for me it’s become routine. That’s not to say it’s been boring, but it’s hardly very fear-inducing these days.

I’ve long felt that my fear of commitment was what caused me to change locations so often. Though granted, many of those moves were based on practicality and an attempt to put myself through college. And so, determined to fight my inclination to flee, I decided to stay somewhere for an entire year. And I did, in Massachusetts. And then, against all likelihood, I did it again in Seattle. I have lived here for over a year now. And I thought staying put would dampen my antsy feelings and urges to leave. I thought solidity would be good, and I’d evolve into the type of person who could stay in one place with a normal job all their life. But as it turns out…not so much.
Staying put didn’t change who I was, it just proved I could tolerate a “normal” life. But it’s not what I want. It never has been.

Commitment doesn’t have to mean permanence

What I’ve realized lately is that commitment isn’t necessarily the scariest thing in the world. Because commitment doesn’t have to mean staying in one place all your life. It doesn’t mean you have to get married or buy a house, or live the American dream. As it turns out, I actually am committed, passionately– just not to those ideals.

I am committed to adventure, to travel, to experiencing as much of this world as I can. I am committed to loving my friends and family intensely, though often from afar. I am committed to the belief that I don’t have to live a traditional life in order for it to be a good one.

The start of something exciting

This week I committed to something new. Not to a traditional lifestyle, not to my perpetually uneventful office job, not to normalcy. This week I committed to moving to Thailand to pursue a different type of life.My first month is planned–I’m going to take a 4 week intensive CELTA certification course to teach English as a foreign language. After that, it’s a little hazy. If I choose, the school will place me in a position as an English teacher for a year, location TBD. Or, I can look for a teaching job in Chiang Mai, where I’ll be taking the course. Or, I can pursue something else. I’ve applied to a year-long fellowship program that would combine teaching with local non-profits in Asia. Maybe I’ll do that. The whole world is open to me, and I can decide the details later. For now, I’m happy having the first month planned.

Giving up

And so, dear readers, stay tuned. Because I’m giving up on normal, and committing to adventure. I’m giving up on my morning commute, my two computer monitors, my multiple phone lines, my “comfortable” life. I’m setting off for a life I know nothing about, in search of something a little less predictable.
And I think it’s gonna be great.

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