Lost and In Need of Advice
Where do I even start? I graduated from college about three years ago and have been at the same job ever since. The pay is pretty decent and it’s a very secure position. The problem is that I’m absolutely miserable. I don’t like the
work, I don’t like the industry, and I don’t like the people I work with. I show up to work every day thinking, “how the hell did I end up here, and how can I get out?” Considering the state of the economy and that
my experience is in a rather niche field, my prospects of landing another decent job anytime soon aren’t very good. Even if I do find something else, I’m not sure things would be much better. The idea of spending nine hours a day
in a cubicle for the next twenty years is no longer as appealing as it once was.
So, I started to think about some of my immediate alternatives. After ruling out every career that would keep me permanently chained to a desk, there weren’t too many options left. Then, one day, I had the thought, “I know,
I’ll go teach English overseas for a year or two.” I figured that it would be an opportunity to do something different and would give me some time away from everything to figure out what I really want to do with the rest of my life.
Who knows, maybe I’ll even like it enough to stick with it. All of this started to swim around in my head about two weeks before my first real vacation since I started working, three weeks by myself in Thailand.
I decided to go to Thailand for three simple reasons: it’s somewhere different, it’s cheap, and it’s warm. It was the perfect escape from another dreadful Chicago winter. I won’t go into much detail about the first
two weeks of my trip because honestly, nothing too exciting happened. I started off in Bangkok and then headed south to explore a few of the islands. The bargirl scene isn't my thing, so I spent most of my time doing the typical touristy
things: walking around, sightseeing, eating, drinking, and sleeping on the beach. All in all, it wasn’t a bad couple weeks, and I started thinking that Thailand wouldn’t be a bad a place to spend a year or two if I decided to teach
For the last leg of my trip, I headed north to Chiang Mai. This is where things got a little more interesting. My second night there, I headed out for a night of drinking. I wandered into a random bar, had a few drinks, and before I knew
it, I found myself talking to a Thai girl named “K.” She was very cute, had a pretty face, a great smile, and warm eyes. You know the deal. Looks aside, she had a great personality and was a lot of fun. It didn’t take me long
to know that I liked this girl. I spend the rest of the night drinking with K and a few of her friends and had a really great time. The next day, I decided to scrap my plans and spend the day with her. I did the same thing the next day, and the
next, and the next, and the next. I ended up spending almost all of my time in Chiang Mai with K. It was easily the highlight of my trip. But, when it came time for me to leave, I didn’t really know what to make of the whole thing. Was
this it? Was this just a fling or something more? I had no idea. (I’ll get back to that.)
I did a lot of thinking once I got home. Not so much about K, but about everything else. You already know how I feel about my job, but honestly, my personal life hasn’t been much better. I feel like I’m losing most of my friends.
They’re moving on to new places, or getting married, or we’re just growing apart. And I can’t remember the last time I’ve meet a girl that I’ve had any real interest in. I’m only twenty-five and already
I feel like I’m in a rut. It was time to make a really honest assessment of my life. So I did. And the conclusion I came to is that I don’t want this life anymore. I don’t want to spend nine hours a day in a cubicle dreaming
about a vacation that is still months away. I don’t want the lease payment on the new car or the condo association fees. I don’t want any of it. I wasted the last seven years of my life working towards things that will never make
me happy. And the sad thing is that I knew all this for a long time, but I was never willing to admit it to myself. Suddenly, all of it hit me. You know the guy you see in the elevator, or the meeting at work, or at the corner store that looks
like he’s about to break down, lose his shit, and start sobbing uncontrollably? That was me for about three weeks after I got home. All of this hit me at once, and I just couldn’t handle it.
When the uncontrollable sobbing subsided, I made the decision to sell everything, quit my job, and move to Thailand to teach. The money isn’t important. I’m looking to simplify my life. Besides, I have enough saved so that I
can supplement my teaching salary if I need to (and it sounds like I will). If I like teaching, I can always move somewhere where the pay is better. And if I want to stay in Thailand, I’ll find a way to make it work. Maybe I can learn web
design and pick up some freelance work from back in the States to make some extra cash. Who knows. I’m smart, I’ll figure something out. And, if I don’t like teaching, then I guess it’s on to the next thing. This was
the decision I made four weeks ago.
Back to K for a minute. I figured that after I was home for a week or so, I’d come to my senses and realize that it was just an infatuation. It was something new and exciting, and that over time, she would just become a happy memory.
Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite happened and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. We started exchanging emails and talking over the internet not long after I got home, and I found out that she felt the same way about
me. Before I knew it, I was making plans to go back to Thailand for two weeks to see her. I know what you’re thinking. Ignoring for a moment all the disaster stories I’ve read on this site about getting involved with Thai girls,
I still know that I’m looking for trouble. But, I don’t know what else to do. I’m not willing to just forget her and walk away.
I’ve spent hours reading stories about dating Thai girls on Stickman, but never about teaching English in Thailand. At least that was the case until a couple days ago. And needless to say, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with what
I read. It’s one horror story after the next. “Don’t move to Thailand, don’t teach in Thailand, don’t do anything in Thailand.” I was up until four o’clock in morning with knots in my stomach. Up
until then, I was confident in my decision to move to Thailand to teach. It just felt right. But after reading everything I did, my confidence wasn’t just shaken, it was shattered. I went to bed that night feeling like I had made the wrong
decision. Worst of all, I was back at square one. Sure, I could go to China or South Korea, but for whatever reason I had my heart set on Thailand, even if I knew it wasn’t the prudent choice.
It’s the ‘what ifs’ that scare me. What if I move to Thailand to teach, fall for someone, and then realize that I’m stuck in a job that I can’t stand, making no money? What if after two years, I decide I
want to move back to the States, but can’t find a job? There are a million ‘what ifs’. But here is the one that scares me most of all: What if I don’t take a chance and do something different with my life now? What
if I become just another one of those empty faces I see every day at work that have spent the last ten, twenty, or thirty years in the same place doing the same thing? Would I be able to live with myself then?
Well, here’s where I am right now. I’m still at my job and plan to stay for at least a couple more months so that if nothing else, I can save up a little more money. I’m still on the fence about moving to Thailand, although
I am leaning in that direction. I leave in six days to go visit K. I have two goals in mind for this trip: to have fun and to keep my head on straight. The first one won’t be a problem. The second one I’m not so sure about. I’m
going to try my best to keep her completely out of the equation when it comes to making a decision, although I know that it will ultimately be a difficult thing to do.
I’ve tried to sum up everything I’ve been thinking and feeling over the past couple months. I’ve briefly talked to my family and friends about all of this, but I’m holding off on having any serious discussions
until I get back in a few weeks. For now, I’m hoping to hear from Stickman readers. So please, send me your advice, your comments, and any questions.
Tim in Chicago
You come across as a very bright and level-headed guy – and as you're young you have your whole life ahead of you. I *can* understand how you feel and sympathise with your situation.
With that said, I would caution about moving to Thailand. Make the move, but set some specific goals – and have plans in place if those goals are achieved, as well as if they are not. You will probably have a great time in Thailand for anything from one to a few years, but eventually you will discover the issues that exist here. No place is perfect. And then, you might begin to grow resentful because you will start to realise that the opportunity cost of moving to Thailand at such a young age may potentially be greater than you thought.
I think you have to very seriously weigh up your options. If you move to Thailand, is it possible for you to do the work you do in the USA here? That would be a much better situation…