seminar: facing the fear

Hello again! It’s been a while, I know. The last six months of our lives have been nonstop. Since the day we left Korea in late July we’ve traveled in Thailand, India, Nepal, England, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Germany. Then we arrived in Michigan (our home state) the day before Thanksgiving and were flung straight into the holiday season. I promise that I’ll write more about those travels soon. I’ve tried writing several times at home but each time I just stare at the screen without any words coming to me. My mind’s been going crazy trying to figure out and accomplish everything we need to do while we’re still in the states.

It’s been such a wonderful half-year, and whenever I stop to think about our life I’m astonished at what we’ve done. Jessie recently read a message she’d sent a friend five years ago, before we had started any traveling. In it she’d conveyed the apprehension and fear we felt as we were preparing ourselves to live in another country for one whole year! How would we communicate with the people? Would we be able to make friends? Would we make enough money to support ourselves? Would we be devastatingly homesick?

It seems silly to us now. Korea is like a second home to us and I feel just about as comfortable there as here. Moving to Korea was the tipping point that led to so many good things like backpacking around the world, learning how to live a minimalist lifestyle and making global friendships. In fact, last weekend we group-Skyped with friends in England, Poland, China and New Zealand. How crazy is that! Moving to Korea was absolutely the best decision for us.

And yet, we now find ourselves in an oddly similar situation. We’ve been running around at home, holding on to the precious last weeks we have with friends and family while waiting on our VISAs. In no time at all we’ll again watch as our plane leaves contact with Detroit soil only to touch ground in Bangkok a day later. Immediately we’ll get to work apartment hunting, learning the language and carving out a life there. Jessie’s volunteering full time; I’m starting my own online business and sorting out how I’ll be able to support us. I’ve never done anything remotely close to this before. I have no idea how it’ll go. It’s been a huge learning curve just building the website! I’m scared of being self-employed, of not knowing there’s a steady paycheck rolling in each week. I’m scared of starting over again and having to make new friends. I’m scared of failure.

But we’re doing it. And that is the point. Because we know that we could carve out a career in ESL education and do that the rest of our lives, but we wouldn’t feel fulfilled. Because I could continue my schooling and become a professor and settle down, but I wouldn’t be happy doing that; at least not yet. Because we have to keep learning how to trust ourselves. Because Jessie and I made a promise to each other six years ago that we wouldn’t make decisions based on fear.

In my experience, life rarely rewards decisions based on fear.

So here goes nothing! Bangkok, here we come! No matter what it holds for us I truly believe that years from now I’ll chance upon this post and smile as I read it, thinking how silly I ever was to be afraid.