One thing I had some trouble with before I moved abroad was depression and anxiety. It plagued me at every turn in my life and destroyed so many things I loved. In the end, I found myself after a long day or week, or month sitting in my room crying to myself.
From work to my girlfriends to my family I always found things adding up more and more. Creating this unbelievable weight on my conscious mind.
I actually used to have panic attacks in my late teens and early twenties because of the anxiety I was under. It caused so many problems for me and made me realize I needed to make a change in my life.
After these past few years of travel and living abroad I haven’t had an anxiety attack or anything even close to it. My anxiety has reached an all-time low in my life and I take time every day to thank god for the situation I am in. Living this way has taught me so much. Meeting all these new people, from all these different walks of life made me see. It showed me how different everyone can be and how we can all live a happy and fulfilled life in our own way.
Today I hope I can share some of the things I have learned. From my life abroad, from my time traveling and growing since I had those problems. To help someone else overcome the pain I used to live through.
First — Keep your head up, life is hard
The most important thing I have learned throughout this whole journey is, life is hard. Like, really hard. Don’t freak out when something goes your way. But if you do freak out, realize it and try to take a step back and see where and when you freaked out.
We need to try our hardest to calm our minds when things like this happen. When you think about it, take a moment and try to notice, when you are having a bad day… it can seem like the whole world is coming down around you. Yet when others are having a bad day you would instinctively say “well that’s life”.
We have to realize even if we are on top of the world if we are rich, famous, or whatever. We will always have a bad day, everyone has good days and bad days. We are all humans and fight the same struggles. If every day was a good day then we would become accustomed to that. Yet when a bad day would happen it would feel ten times worse because we were so used to the happiness.
Life is good and bad, happy and sad, amazing and terrible all at once. That’s what makes life so amazing. We need to learn how to take the good with the bad.
Second — “We make plans, and God laughs”
Ok, so this one is close to my heart because I find that it speaks directly to my soul. No matter how perfectly you plan your life, step by step. There will always be mistakes or changes. Things that happen that can shake up and change everything you had planned. Be ready for that. I am going to say it plain and clean…. it’s definitely going to happen.
Now I’m not saying don’t make plans, because we all need some sort of structure in our lives, some more than others. What I am trying to say is that if things happen, roll with the punches. Don’t be fixated on one goal that will make or break your life. Understand that things happen, things change, people change and so do you.
Be ready and willing to change. You might start down one path and realize it's not what you wanted or it's not what you are looking for. In the end, you might uproot everything you were working on to the only start all over again down a different path.
Know there will always be changes in life, and in the end, you will find what you are looking for we all do. Trust the path that God puts in front of you. It will always lead you to what you are looking for, no matter how long or windy the road is.
Third — If it feels uncomfortable, it might actually be good for you
You would be surprised how many times I tell this to friends of mine and they look at me dumbfounded.
I found this little piece of advice from the great actor Chris Evans. In an interview he did recently, he was talking about when he was considering the Captain America role. He kept saying how he didn’t want to make a commitment for more than one movie. because if anything were to happen he could put his head down and push Hollywood away. He was talking about how the anxiety of the paparazzi and other media spotlight would be upon him. This created so much anxiety for himself. He didn’t want that spotlight on him to create trouble for the people closest to him.
Yet the Captain America role the studio had him sign a contract for six movies or about ten years. Now after talking with family, friends, and even talking to a therapist about this he found they were all saying the same thing. Just go for it, you will regret it if you don’t. And after a lot of time thinking about it he realized this would be a good decision.
It made him uncomfortable and anxious. Yet when he looked at the big picture of things he saw how something like this could be good for him and his anxiety.
So when you take a big step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes you can see something that makes you feel uncomfortable or strange. Can really help you grow in more ways than you expect.
When I first moved abroad, I was terrified on my first twelve-hour flight across the world. I remember writing in my journal that the one thing that changed my fear into excitement was tea. Something so simple and so easy calmed all my fears and help me realize what I was doing was good for me.
Forth — Learning something new is hard…. until it's easy
When I first moved abroad, I landed myself in Beijing, China. Where I wanted to pick up a second language and establish a life for myself. When I got here everything was terrifyingly hard. I couldn’t speak with anyone, I knew zero Chinese and had a very hard time getting by. I would only be able to get what I needed by pointing. Food, Necessities, everything, and anything was so hard to figure out.
I look back today and I am so glad I went through that. I still don’t know that much Chinese but I know how to get what I want with the tools I have at my disposal. What I mean by that is that I have learned that if I need or want something, nothing can stand in my way. The language is no longer this terrifying barrier that I can’t even touch. It’s become nothing but a way for me to work harder for the things I want or need.
Living in China has gotten much easier than the day I landed. I actually laugh when I realize how hard it was for me to even eat when I arrived. As well as how foreign everything seemed. Now I’m so accustomed to living in and around China it has become a very comfortable place to live and work.
Just remember that sometimes it can seem terrifying or scary in the beginning but that will fade. You will grow and learn how to do anything you set your mind to. Nothing can stop you unless you allow it to stop you. When I first landed I remember how hard it was to communicate but still I did not let it stop me from what I want. I pushed through it and from then it has only gotten easier.
Fifth — Be thankful for what you have
Last but not least always be thankful for what you have and where you have come from. It will be your root in the world to hold you down from anything that may arise. Without being thankful you can lose yourself in the pettiest things.
Try and stop every day and think about three things you are thankful for. Stop and look back at where you have come from. Life will always have its ups and downs. Yet if you can stop and find something you can be thankful for then you see your life is beautiful. No matter the hardship, no matter the pain, no matter the struggle. You can see that in the end, everything will be ok.
Be Kind, Be Thankful, Be Understanding, and Be Ready for whatever life may through at you. In the end, you will grow, whether you are abroad or not if you follow this advice you can see massive changes in your life.