Why I Didn’t Let My Fears Stop Me From Moving Halfway Around the World

Around the World: Moving Around the World & Not Letting Fears Stop Me

When I told my family and friends that I was moving to Thailand to teach English, I received a mix of reactions. Generally my friends were really excited and my family was more concerned. They said I was crazy to move to the other side of the world where I knew no one and where I did not speak the language.

They kept asking: aren’t you afraid? Of course I was. Just because it was something I wanted to do, doesn’t mean I wasn’t afraid. In fact I was terrified. I was terrified of leaving the life I loved in New York. I was even a bit anxious and sad. I was leaving behind so many people I loved, a job that I was passionate about, and a city I adored. But I was also really excited for the opportunity to live in Thailand and to experience a new culture. I wanted the experience of going out of my comfort zone and learning important things about myself, so despite my initial fears, I packed my bags, kissed the people I loved goodbye and got on that plane.

I Was Terrified to Move to Thailand. Then I Faced My Fears.
I didn’t let my fear keep me from getting on the plane.

Just because it was something I wanted to do, doesn’t mean I wasn’t afraid. In fact I was terrified.

I wish I could tell you that once I got here I stopped being afraid. But I didn’t. In fact, the beginning was really difficult. I had never been to this part of the world before, nor had I ever been in a place that was so culturally different. After the initial wonder, excitement and jet lag wore off, I started to feel homesick. I missed the people I loved and the life I had left behind.

It was also really hot. I had a cockroach infestation in my apartment. I had more mosquito bites than I could count. I had a lot of burns and scratches from continuously falling off my motorbike. The food was too spicy. I had difficulty learning Thai, so I did not understand anything that was going on around me. Overall, I felt physically, emotionally, and mentally uncomfortable. I started to doubt myself, and my decision to move here. Looking back, I know I was experiencing culture shock, but there were times I thought about leaving. But I chose this specifically to face those difficult moments and to discover what I can learn about myself through them.

My friends and family were all very supportive by telling me I needed to be patient and that I had to give it more time. My mom always says: “change is the most constant thing in life.” I made the choice to change my own life, instead of waiting for it to change on its own and it was going to be tough for a while. A good friend told me to stop putting so much pressure on trying to find myself and to try immersing myself in the work I was doing and the reasons I was there instead. She said in doing so I might find a different part of myself or a passion I never knew was inside of me. Another good friend suggested I write down five things every day that I am grateful for.

Why I Didn’t Let My Fears Stop Me From Moving Halfway Around the World

teaching in thailand
My students in Thailand

Shortly after, my neighbor asked my roommate and I if we could tutor a friend of hers. He had his own business, and wanted to learn English to sell to his foreign customers. He was really nervous, but he really wanted to learn. I could tell it was a struggle for him to understand, but he never gave up and I admire him for that. We taught him the basics and practiced a dialogue he might have with one of his future customers.

I stopped letting all my fears and discomforts hold me back and I opened up.

A few days later, he proudly announced he used the dialogue we had taught him to sell to a foreign customer and gleamed as he showed us a photo of the two of them. He explained that his customers are like his family and this man had a ‘good heart.’ I was touched because I saw the direct impact my teaching had on him and his family. In that moment, the endless mosquito bites, the cockroach wars, the sweating, the sadness, homesickness, discomfort and wounds from my accidents were all worth it.

My best friend told me that the most important thing I could do was to be open to myself and to others. I stopped letting all my fears and discomforts hold me back and I opened up. After a month of living and working here, I started to feel more comfortable. I practiced driving long distances on my motorbike so I feel more confident. I created a system for catching the cockroaches in my apartment. I learned how to say, ‘not spicy’ in Thai when ordering food.

friends in thailand
Friends in Thailand

Why I Didn’t Let My Fears Stop Me From Moving Halfway Around the World

But I also became friends with the Thai teachers in my school, who welcomed me into their community and showed me the most kindness and openness I have ever experienced. They have made me laugh when I was having a bad day and they have taught me how find peace through praying to Buddha. My students have shown me the true meaning of selflessness. I learned how to overcome the physical discomforts of a new place and how to immerse myself in a new culture. I learned how to be more patient, flexible and how to expect the unexpected. And then all of a sudden, I had never felt more comfortable in my own skin than I did in Thailand.

I’ve realized that being scared is okay. In fact, in my experience, the things that scare us the most, such as, making that move, falling in love, trying something new, or conquering that fear are usually worth it. Being out of my comfort zone was really difficult and scary, but it is only when we are outside of our comfort zone that we start to grow. I let myself feel scared, but it didn’t stop me from doing what I ultimately wanted to do. I learned that the people I love will always be there, my passions can only grow from my experiences, and I have a new place to call home. Another friend told me that sometimes the juice is worth the squeeze, and he was right—it absolutely was.

 

 

Why I Didn’t Let My Fears Stop Me From Moving Halfway Around the World

About Laura Lopez-Blazquez

Laura Lopez-BlazquezLaura Lopez-Blazquez is a Cuban-American, Miami Native who has spent the past 7 years living in New York City. She is all at once an educator, artist, writer, and avid coffee drinker. Her belief in the healing power of art and travel has led her adventurous spirit to live Germany, Spain, Italy and currently: Thailand. In this most recent stint overseas, Laura can be found teaching English while jet setting throughout Southeast Asia in search of good hearts and many smiles.

2 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Let My Fears Stop Me From Moving Halfway Around the World

  1. Amelia Yarwood
    Amelia Yarwood
    August 23, 2015
    Reply

    I showed this to my students. They were very inspired. Thank you!

  2. Avatar
    Maria Diaz
    March 11, 2015
    Reply

    Congratulaion on have the adventure, wish I would have done something similar when I was younger. Enjoy your adventure.

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