Every expat, or long term traveler, knows the feeling of telling their friends and family about their decision to move abroad. And those that willfully moved abroad can relate to the horror your friends and family express when you inform them of your decision. My story is no different, but it taught me a powerful lesson.
My First Trip
My first solo trip abroad was in 2014 at the wise age of 20. I took a semester off of college and traveled around Southeast Asia. I expected my friends and family to share my excitement at the news…
“Mom and dad! I just bought a 3 month round trip ticket to Bangkok. I leave in 6 weeks.”
“Oh my god! What did you do? Do you have any plans?” shrieked my parents in that concerned parental voice every child knows.
“Not really. I’m 20 years old and know everything. I’ll figure it out.”
“Well you need a plan. You don’t want to visit 5 countries with no plans or hotel reservations…”
Ok it didn’t go exactly like that, but I didn’t have a plan or an idea of what I wanted to do (besides bang lots of girls) and it was blatantly obvious.
And so it began. My excitement for the trip slowly transformed into panic and dread. Despite that pre-trip panic, the trip resulted in a life changing experience that forever changed the trajectory of my life (it wasn’t having sex). However, I learned a valuable life lesson in those six weeks that every person that breaks society’s demands must face:
Everyone hopes you will fail.
Most people you meet will give you a polite smile and tell you good luck, but deep down they want you to fail.
Your family and friends probably won’t have a polite reaction like a more distant person. It isn’t a conscious decision for them, so you can’t get too mad at them. They see your success as a reminder of every failure they have had and will subconsciously hope for your failure. This makes feel better about their failures and life.
They will worrymonger, fearmonger, and guilt you about your decision.
Some, or even all, of the advice and guilt is a perfectly normal reaction and genuine advice from a place of kindness and compassion. Though as a man on a mission, your job is to overcome those mental obstacles and accomplish your goals.
If you decide tolook towards others for validation and success, you will never receive validation nor success. Those two only come from attaining seemingly impossible goals.
So, to those considering a move abroad I say, “Go ahead and move abroad. Let your long term success and happiness be the only validation required.”