People often comment on how “brave” I am to have come to a foreign country like Thailand alone. They tell me how they’d never be able to leave family and friends indefinitely; they compliment me on being so independent, extroverted and such an intrepid traveller.
Their beliefs couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reality is that I’m introverted and that my insecurities and fears could eat me alive……if I allowed them to.
I think that most people believe courage is the absence of fear when in actuality it’s taking action despite fear. I am no different than anyone else in general. I think if more people realised that others take steps even though they are scared that it would encourage and inspire others to do the same. Instead people think that people like me are some special breed of fearless human. Sure, there are those who are naturally fearless, but I think for the most part the general population does have fears,worries and/or concerns in any risky and or unfamiliar venture. It’s the decision to not let it consume you and press on that makes the difference.
From the time I left Canada to go to Germany in August 2012 until this very moment I’ve gone through so many ups and downs (as I type this post I’m in a down) that most people never know about. People only see the travel pics of smiles and exotic beaches on Facebook and assume the best. They think it’s all rainbows and butterflies, magical and amazing. Okay, I also often feel like what I’m living is pure magic but there is a whole other dark side that no one sees.
The self doubt, and fear. It’s an ugly thing.
I’m often questioning whether going to the other side of the world and leaving my rebellious teenage son – who said he didn’t want to live with me anymore due to my strict rules – was the right thing to do. There are so many people that feel being a good parent is about putting your own desires on hold until your child is fully established, happy and successful. But does that mean I should financially support an adult child who does not want to take my life advice in favour of sleeping in and being on the internet like it’s his career while he haphazardly “looks for a job”?
I spend a great deal of my time being worried sick about him and wondering if he is happy. Thinking I am being a bad parent because I am not there to be his cushion should he fall while he makes his life choices.
Like Dr. Phil says “a mother can only be as happy as her unhappiest child.”
I also go up and down between thinking it’s so awesome that I’m here in the paradisiacal location of Sam Ri Yot, Thailand training Muay Thai. Enjoying the rush of fervor in my new found love of Muay Thai, revelling in the conversion from only wanting to train Muay Thai to get in shape to actually wanting to fight (after adequate training of course). Then at other times I just feel like an old fool, as I sit at the camp dinner table surrounded by mainly 20 something year old guys; wondering if I’m wasting my time. After all, by the time I get to any decent level of skill in Muay Thai I’ll be well past 40 and that’s way to old to fight. Isn’t it?
I bounce between feeling like I’m on an exotic adventure and that not having a permanent address is a liberating experience; to feeling lonely, homesick and lovesick.
My ex boyfriend that I had a two year relationship with while living in Germany just returned home yesterday after a visit here in Thailand to see me. We had a great time. When he left I felt the pain of leaving someone I love all over again. It was not any easier than when I left him in Germany 3 months ago. I think about him returning to Germany, back to his home, his businesses, his possessions, his family and friends and it makes me feel sad, lost and lonely.
Sometimes not having an address doesn’t feel liberating at all, it instead feels like I’m simply not as far as I should like be in life. Nothing wrong with travelling but shouldn’t I have a home base at my age?
On top of all that I’ve just mentioned I am riddled with physical insecurities of being past my prime, unattractive, too dysfunctional to ever have a real relationship, scared as to what will become of me once my trip abroad is over, as I have no home or job to go back to.
But I keep going despite it all.
After the negative feelings pass (and they always do) I pick myself back up and am simply grateful for being aware of things like:
- The need to work on myself and my insecurities before I can have a long term relationship. Some people never come to this realisation and stay stuck in dysfunctional relationship after dysfunctional relationship. Sure I’m lonely at times, wishing I had someone to share this adventure with, but it may be years before I meet “the one.” When I reach a point where I have repaired my self esteem, and have gotten over my insecurities enough to fully love myself, that will be worth far more than any relationship while still “broken” will ever be.
- Age should never be a factor in trying things I’m interested in. It may be weird to many (and at times even myself) to only be starting Muay Thai training as a 35 year old woman, but I think the regret of never having tried things is a much worse feeling. No one would bat an eyelash if I said I was taking up Yoga or Zumba so why should Muay Thai be any different? I’m working on not letting the youth of those training around me intimidate me or hinder my progress in the sport. Tomorrow is never promised, I could end up paralyzed or worse. Dead. I know if I was on my death bed I wouldn’t be saying that I was glad I didn’t try the things I wanted because I was too old. I need to do what I want while I am still able in mind and body. Sometimes I let the criticism of others creep in, it may even get me down for days at a time but I always consistently push it out. What’s really awful is I’m harder on myself than I am on others. If I met an 80 year old who wanted to try skateboarding I’d be their biggest cheerleader. I’d LOVE IT! I’d be so supportive and proud that he/she was going for something they wanted to do rather than doing what others thought they should be doing. Working on being as accepting and understanding of myself as I am of others is one of my top priorities.
- A good job is not worth sacrificing happiness. I had a decent job in Germany, a place to live, and tremendous opportunities for travel within Europe. People thought I was crazy to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Germany and all that I saw of Europe; I plan to go back again at some point, but at the end of the day I was still spending 8 hours a day (sometimes more) doing a job that left me feeling drained and unfulfilled. I just got sick of wishing for Fridays and dreading Mondays. Is stability really worth not being fully happy? Apparently it wasn’t for me and I just have to stop losing sight of why I left all that stability in the first place. Doesn’t mean I won’t ever have a place to call home, I do want that; just not right now. I have to remember that age is just a number and not something to use as a measurement for what you should and shouldn’t have in life.
- There are other ways to earn money besides being in an office. If things hadn’t have unfolded the way they did I wouldn’t be searching for income options that would allow me to travel and have more freedom over my schedule. I wouldn’t be reading about ways to make money exponentially so that one day I CAN have that home base, and still travel when I want. And if I get my mind right regarding my insecurities about my looks and abilities maybe I can have all that and be sharing it with the love of my life. Whoever that ends up being.
- Everyone is on their own path. As for my son, I can only hope and pray that he gets through this stage of wanting to exert his freedom and independence on his own, with as little bumps and bruises as possible. I hope he is happy and successful in life. I just have to have faith that my decision to follow my own path and do what is best for me was the right thing to do. Staying in Canada, probably in some office job, waiting to “catch” Isaiah if he falls, getting frustrated when he wasn’t doing what I thought was best for him would not leave me or my son happy. I took the tough love route. He wanted freedom so I gave him his freedom, while letting him know I’m always here for advice and to offer help anyway I can.
So you see I am no different than anyone else. I am plagued by the same concerns as most people. Taking a the step to take action despite the concerns was something that took time. Changing what I chose to read and who I chose to associate with was a huge help in helping me exercise “courage.” All the websites and blogs I read about people from all walks of life and backgrounds and family situations who gave into their wanderlust despite social convention fuelled my fire. I learned that courage really is like a muscle, you must exercise it in order for it to grow. And just like working out, you would never go to the gym and starting lifting the heavy weights right away. You’d start light, allow your body to adapt, and eventually create the strength to lift heavier weights. So when it comes to courage start with something small, however small you need it to be. Learning to swim maybe, finally your own home based business, getting out of a toxic relationship. One small step will lead to another and another until you are doing things you never thought possible.
I am still nowhere near doing the things I wish I could be doing, but I’m on the right path, I just have to not let fear paralyze me is what I’ve learned. Don’t let uncertainty while on your path stop you from continuing forward. It’s not about never feeling sad, or upset or lonely but being okay with it, and moving on.
I take comfort in knowing that in my heart of hearts I am exactly where I should be.
*After I completed this post, I decided I wanted to find a motivational video to accompany the post. I went to Youtube and typed in: ‘Live Your Dreams’ and this was the very first video that came up. So perfect! Not only does it touch on some of what I talked about in my post but the imagery is related to reaching training goals with lots of Muay Thai kickboxing scenes in there (although the spoken words can apply to anything). Writing this post and watching video has lifted me out of my funk.