Readers' Submissions

Reply: Lost and In Need Of Advice

  • Written by Anonymous
  • April 6th, 2011
  • 5 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


This is my first ever Stick submission after having lived in Thailand for a year. I love all of the submissions you guys do and your weekly column, Stick. You guys have amused me, made me think critically, let me learn from your mistakes and have given me a wide range of perspectives. I really appreciate it and all of those thoughts will really help me through my life. Anyway, in response to Tim:

I'm a 25 year old from Oregon and I moved to Phuket a year ago. I am in a somewhat different situation than you in that I work over the internet and make good money (10k USD/month). Thus, I haven't given up my financial security by leaving the USA. All of my success in life comes from the USA – and this doesn't come from some crazed patriot. I really dislike some things about our country (namely foreign policy), but as far as personal freedoms and maximum opportunities, I think home is impossible to beat. I've met countless expats living in Thailand now and my observation is that *none* of them make their money from Thailand. If they are actually making money out here it is usually a very small amount. The guys who do well for themselves get their money from outside the country. It has been a year and I haven't met a single westerner that I felt was actually "successful" in Thailand. Now obviously I am sure there are a couple that are, but think of what this means in terms of your odds of "making it" out here. They certainly aren't good.

You and I had similar work situations. I worked in the cubicle world of accounting right out of college. I hated studying accounting in college but told myself the money was so important and figured it was a means to an end. When I finished school I also hated my job and loathed going in every morning. And like your situation, I could tell that so many people in the office also hated their work and their lives… they'd often leave Friday with a significant amount of "crazy" in their eyes, like they really just hated the world. A few of my friends still lead this life style and it certainly doesn't seem to be getting any better for them. I worked my ass off in a job… and then was laid off at the peak of the recession when my firm lost 30% of their clients in a couple months. I remember when I walked out the door of that gaudy office for the last time, and this is no hyperbole at all, that I felt like I was a free man walking out of prison. This should have been one of the most miserable days of my life – I had just lost a job that I worked in school for years to be qualified for. But interestingly enough this was hands down one of the happiest of my life. Kind of backwards, right? I now know that I'll never even consider working like that again – I'd rather flip burgers into my 70s if I have to and it's not even close.

Anyway, what exactly am I getting at? Maybe you should think this through a bit more fully. We all hear the idea, "find the root cause of your problems, don't just treat the symptoms". Now think about this and read your submission to Stick again. What is your big take away, that 1: "Man I love Thailand so much and I can't wait to get back" or 2: "God I hate my work and I'd rather kill myself than continuing down that path". I think it is pretty clear that your problems don't lie with your country… they lie with your career choice. So fix that part of your life before you do anything as drastic as moving to Thailand on a whim. There are other a ton of great opportunities in America and working for a big company is no longer one of them. People talk about how big companies screw us over all the time now – well guess what, don't feed into their game and accept their underpaid, overworking job. Leave. If you're legitimately smart, and based on what you wrote I'd bet that you are, you will find that there are ways to make even more money than you were before with a fraction of the work. You can also give up that materialistic lifestyle – I didn't miss my new car at all once I sold it. Guess what? Nobody really cares what kind of car you drive. That quote from Fight Club is so true, "The things that you own end up owning you." Instead of frantically spending your money, stick it in the bank. You'll be amazed at the type of freedom you will feel that you finally have once you accomplish this.

As far as coming to Thailand… well I hate to confirm it for you, but yes that will be a complete dead end. There isn't anything out here. I leave in 2 days after spending a year out here. The Thailand you saw doesn't give an accurate picture of what it is really like out here. My eyes have slowly been opening after a year out here. I don't claim to fully understand the country… but I understand it enough to tell you that the USA is far and away a better place to be. I might come back here – because unlike you I do enjoy the bar scene, it is pretty much the only up side to the country IMO – but I don't think I'd ever plan on setting up permanent residence here. That would be one of the most illogical conclusions a person could make unless they have already "finished life" and by that I mean they are done having kids and are retired from work. Instead, quit your job and go find a way to make your life in the USA happy. Thailand won't make you happy… it might trick you into thinking that for a short while, but really listen to what the guys here are telling you and avoid that life pitfall.


Stickman's thoughts:

A very smart young man you are, I would suggest.