Before I came to Thailand I thought I had it all – inanimately speaking. I had a great place to live, a luxurious vehicle, nice furniture, tons of clothes & shoes (half of which I never actually wore) and money in the bank. I was a little high maintenance – not in the extreme sense, but I did like having nice things; more so because I paid for them and was proud to show what I had accomplished. The problem was these “things” were beginning to define who I was as a person.
Growing up with an American mindset we are taught from a young age to look a certain way, act a certain way, judge a certain way and find acceptance somehow. Most people gravitate to drugs, love, sex, moving away, addiction to social media, traveling, giving back to the community, working out, a specialized career, schooling – the list could go on and on. My happiness contained a small percentage of those things (minus the drugs). I lived in my little bubble, with my small group of friends, being in a continuous circle of debt, with a career I hated wishing I were anywhere else.
I needed a cleanse: emotionally, physically and mentally.
Dropping everything and coming to Thailand – a country somewhat developed, but roughly 5-7 years behind the US in terms of financial status, was a dramatic change to the lives we lived back home.
This experience has humbled me in the best way possible.
I have constructed a few things in which before I COULD NOT LIVE without prior to traveling, but have come to find that life goes on.
- A constant connection to wifi or tv. Out here, you may get wifi or you may not. So the need to be glued to my phone 24/7 has faded dramatically. Instead of being socially glued, I have become social.
- Bathrooms – here they are pretty limited especially in public places. Guys – can essentially go anywhere….but for us ladies, some places make you pay, some places have no TP, some places have “squatters” – where you literally squat down to do your business and spray yourself clean with a hose, then use a bucket of water to pour over it…talk about a WTF moment.
- Bathtubs – not here.
- A variety of weather: you either get hot or HOT.
- A gym membership – they have gyms, if you can over look the stench of body odor and decay.
- The need of a vehicle – you definitely dont want to be driving anything large out here…a scooter seems silly, but they are quick, efficient and fun!
- Fast food – forget it, you either get McDonalds or KFC…yuck.
Some things that I learned while being here:
All the things listed above are things I took for granted at home, but dont really need to have. Not to mention the lack of fast food out here has helped with weight loss. So that is a huge plus!!!
People here embrace each other for who they are, not for what they own.
No one cares what you wear – hell I have seen extremely large men wearing tiny speedos and not one person bats and eye.
No one cares about the type of car you drive, the size of your phone, your weight, brand names, sexual preferences, career choices – sometimes ignorance is bliss.
They dont care because they have never lived in a country that judges or instills unrealistic values.
Thai’s embrace new friendships and offer so much love towards each other, it would make your heart explode.
There are no hate crimes here, people dont steal from their neighbors, they dont burn flags out of hate for different beliefs nor do they create chaos when one religion is vastly different than the other….NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. I love that about this country.
Being touchy-feely is acceptable here.
Most people touch each other in some type of endearing way: whether its putting their arms around each other, walking arm in arm, patting each other, sitting close, laying across each other, hugging…
All things that would be deemed “gay behavior” or “inappropriate behavior” in American schools or in general.
An adult can actually hug a child without being accused of some outrageous charge or students can show love without being criticized or bullied about their sexual orientation.
Being in Thailand and witnessing all of this has allowed me to chisel away the judgements I have acquired over the years. I no longer look at people and immediately notice what they are wearing, how they physically look, or their mannerisms. Instead, I notice the smiles they wear and how they treat others.
I perceive life a little differently now.
I’ve grown emotionally because I’m aware of how fortunate my life has been in comparison to the people here. South Asia has so many undereducated people that get overlooked because they dont know any other way of life.
I’ve grown mentally because I left the only life I ever knew to experience being in someone else’s shoes. It not only humbles your soul, but you learn so much more about yourself than you thought possible.
I’ve grown physically because I’ve been able to shed the weight of the only world I ever knew and gained insight on appreciating natural beauty versus material possessions.
Traveling definitely enlightens you; mostly because you learn the difference between beauty in things and beauty in people.
Until next time.