Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kait's corner: Life after Thailand

Some people struggle with life after Nakhon/Thailand, some people continue to succeed in their next adventure. Many people leave Nakhon only to come back a few months or years later. The prospect of being unhappy after my time here made me message my good friend Kaitlyn about any advice she would have for life after Thailand. She lived here for two years, went back to Ottawa for the summer and is now living in Osaka, Japan. 

The decision to leave Thailand was not an easy one. As my time in that wonderful country drew to an end, my experience only seemed to be getting better and the bonds I made only growing deeper. My last few months were spent strengthening friendships I didn't think could get any stronger. I began to feel as though I were falling more and more in love with an entire group of people. Separating from them meant enduring 30+ heartbreaks all at once.
But my nature (and that of those I had grown so close with) is a restless one. Part of our bond had stemmed from a longing for adventure. While incredibly tempting, staying in Nakhon for another year wasn't an option for those craving challenge and change.

I'm often asked about life post-NST. No, it isn't always easy. Yes, there are days where I just want to run away to the beach and dance all night in the jungle. But I haven't once regretted my decision to move forward with my life. My phones background picture is still a group shot at guys bar, and okay I do occasionally click through past photo albums with massive grin plastered on my face, but I rarely pine for the past. Here are a few things I try to concentrate on whenever I feel a tinge of NST homesickness.

1. Never stop searching for adventure. Whether you move home to work a desk job or continue tefling in a new country, push yourself to explore. This could be as simple as leaving the city and going for a hike, or getting in a car and driving with no particular destination in mind. There is natural beauty everywhere, you just need to seek it out.
2. Step, jump or lunge way out of your social comfort zone. Meet someone you think is relatively cool? Ask for their number, make some plans with them. Approach groups of interesting people. Yes--it may be painfully awkward and it's entirely possible you will be shut down--but you may also be opening the door to wonderful new friendships. Joining a club or picking up a new hobby are also stellar ways to meet like minded folk.
3. Keep busy & challenge yourself. Cook a new dish, try playing the piano, write   (or just read for that matter). Set goals and work toward them. Keeping a journal full of what you hope to accomplish and what you have succeeded at accomplishing is helpful. Even if it is used just to look back and remind yourself of what you are supposed to be doing.
4. It's all about NOW. Right-- I know its cliche but I do genuinely believe it is the most important way to effectively deal with lpnst (life post nst). There is no denying that for most of us, life in Nakhon was pretty swell. Yet sometimes we look back on life experience with rose colored glasses. It's easy to put the past on a golden pedestal, omitting the lows and focusing on only the highs. Although this is a beautiful human characteristic, it can lead us to believe that the past will always be better than the present moment. It's easy to take the now for granted and unfairly compare it to what once was. The same goes with the future. Have something to look forward to but don't spend all your time wishing for the next stage of your life. If you are always planning for tomorrow, how can you enjoy today?
So wherever you may be in the world, or however much you may be missing your friends and the NST lifestyle, take a second to appreciate this exact moment in your life. When you do look back, do it with a smile and no regrets. We all have the capacity to be just as happy as we once were in Thailand, but we may just need to roll up our sleeves and put a little more effort into it this time around.
"We can't always keep running after yesterday. Life moves forward. And so must wet." Unknown.

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