Why I Changed My Mind About Living Abroad


The moment I booked my plane ticket to Bangkok, my gut told me it wasn’t the right decision. I doubled down and booked an apartment – maybe solving big logistics would quell the feeling. Still, revolt. I flew to Denver, then California, inching closer to the final flight. “You’re making a mistake” echoed over and over.

In the end, I chose instinct over emotion. Living abroad isn’t the right choice at this stage in my life. This hesitation may be the best decision I’ve made in years –because it’s about a dedicated future.

My life as a manchild has mercifully reached its end.

Dreams vs. Goals

When I made the decision to live in Thailand, still less than a month ago, I thought I was doing something brave and exotic. Par for my course, if you know me well. I used Facebook –a increasing rarity, save for dog memes– to make the grand proclamation. “It’s always been my dream…” I said.

But it’s hard to dream when you can’t sleep. Since that decision, waking in a cold sweat every few hours became the norm. These anxious moments shone a light on an increasingly listless life. Thankfully, the extra time also allowed me to consider the person I want to be, and what it would take to get there.

I considered the goals I've had over the years: establish roots, have a specialized career, write a nonfiction book on the side, work on my first music EP, marry someone incredible, start a family, enjoy life. On paper, this seems like basic normalcy, but stability comes easier to some than others.

Abroad, these things would be impossible, and I was staring down a life of near-total isolation.

Calculating Risk

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve love big risks. Risk has landed me killer jobs, allowed me to sample America’s best cities, and introduced me to amazing people. But at some point you have to commit. This has been my downfall for years.

Commit to yourself. Commit to a community. Commit to a vocation you feel passionate about. Commit to passions outside of your work. Commit to fun, and say yes more than no. Commit to friends and family. Commit to your SO. Tell these people you love them often.

I can only assume commitment will bring me happiness. In doing so, I foresee a better, more stable future. After years of nomadism and indecision –a tiring lifestyle– I'll accept this as reward.

Besides, travel will always be a part of my life, and I plan to return to Thailand in the future. Just not forever.

About Face

I expect to catch shit about this, to been seen as weak, or as a boy who cried wolf. This isn’t about saving face, but I will remain accountable for my actions and words. I talked a big game and walked from an enviable lifestyle impossible for most.

If you’ve ever felt lost, you understand why snap decisions like this are made. Without direction or purpose, you feel the need to fill the emptiness in incrementally strange ways. These ways become distractions from the self and life you want –the real dream.

I’ll part with a defining quote from one of my favorite teenage movies, SLC Punk:

“I didn’t sell out son, I bought in.”

I get it now.

Josh Wolff