How do you stop being your own worst enemy? When you hurl yourself into the unknown, a country whose cultural and language is different from your own, you are forced to become your own biggest supporter.
A little over a year ago, I made the decision to move to Panama City, Panama for three months. As in Panama the country, as in the canal, as in not the beach in Florida. I was going because my brother & his family were there. I was going because my boyfriend was there. And even though I didn’t know it yet, I was going so that I could get a new perspective on my life and what I wanted it to be. I was going to get out of my own way, one way or another.
How to get Out of Your World in Steps
1). Think about traveling
Yup, how’s that for a basic first step. At the risk of sounding like an Elite Daily or Thought Catalog article, I am going to encourage you to travel. However, unlike a generic article about wanderlust I’m not going to tell you to just pick up and go where the wind takes you. I’m not going to tell you that traveling will change your life (even though it will) or that it will make you better. The truth is, it will make you different. And if you’re like me, someone who has struggled with control issues and a disordered self image all her life, different is good. Trust me.
2). Determine where you’re connected
Depending on how comfortable you are taking risks, this one is optional. But for me, having family members in a completely foreign place made the transition feel more manageable. I still went through culture shock, still was faced with challenges on which I had to rely on only myself, but I had someone(s) to talk to about it who understood and was from that world. Ask your parents what relatives you have in different parts of the world. Reach out to sorority and fraternity members, clubs you’re part of, friends at work. It can even be a friend of a friend who helps you ease into your new world. And it’ll make all the difference.
3). Click Confirm
My fingers shook when I purchased my airline ticket. I felt the months of June and September staring back at me as I realized just how long I’d be away from home. I’d been away at college, but it’s a different plunge. A plunge that involves confusion of a language you don’t always understand, but more passion than you will ever see coming. Click it, and then go live it.
What to Expect When You Get Out of Your Own Way
1). You don’t obsess over your appearance
Because there are more important things to dwell on. There are responsibilities that come with being a visitor in a place. In the tropics? You’re going to be sweaty. Guess what, so will everyone else. And maybe this is just my United States bias shining through, but there’s nobody in the world quite as shallow as North Americans. Learning not to care about how I looked was one of the coolest things my new world gave me.
2). You fight in ways you haven’t before
You’re playing their game. And that means your bag of tricks probably won’t work once you leave your home country’s borders. For one of my months in Panama, my electricity was out. For the entire month. I must’ve gone to the electric company 4+ times and each time, got nowhere. Nothing I did or said was getting through. So I learned to adapt. I learned to stand up for myself in a new light. Can you think of anything more empowering?
3). You realize time doesn’t belong to you
And that not everyone in the world has the same perception of time. The time it takes to make it to an appointment on time varies. And the importance of being on time varies too. You’ll learn to find your footing outside of time and learn to read situations like never before.
4). You want everyone you love to get out of their world too
I love this community. As if I don’t say it enough 😉 I want all the love and peace in the world for each of you. But I also want you to abandon your world for a bit. I want you to have faith in yourself that you can be daring and learn on your feet. I want you to feel brand new because everything around you is brand new too. I want that for you
There’s so much more I could say about spending more than a few weeks in a foreign country. I could tell you how it basically eradicated fear foods for me, how it’s the very reason I found time to create Healthyezsweet Life, and so much more. But now I’m going to let you tell me:
What is a part of yourself you’d like to challenge, and can you think of a scenario in which travel might help you do that?
If given the chance, would you immerse yourself in a rural area or a city one?
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