The other night, I heard the song “Budapest” by George Ezra for the first time while out at a bar with some other English teachers (I am currently teaching English in Thailand). One of my friends said something along the lines of, “this song is so perfect for us” or “this song perfectly describes us” (hey, you try remembering what someone said verbatim after the strongest cocktail of your life), and it was when the chorus of the song came along that those who knew the words sang the loudest: “Give me one good reason why I should never make a change.”
As we sang aloud, I remember thinking that the reason she must have said that was because all of us had made a change that was arguably pretty risky and undeniably adventurous – uprooting our lives to pick up and move to Thailand for awhile, to do a job that it’s safe to say doesn’t afford us much career stability, inasmuch as it’s not likely that we’ll be doing it forever. I wouldn’t go back on that decision for anything; I’ve had an amazing experience here and therefore don’t have any regrets. With that said, if I’m being honest, 10, five, or even just two years ago, when I was finishing college, I didn’t imagine that I’d one day be acting on my wanderlust, doing a job that I knew was legitimate and meaningful though only temporary, and, unfortunately, struggling with the reality of the fact that establishing the career that I want to be doing for the rest of my life is significantly easier said than done.
Being someone who had been in the habit, from an early age, of planning out my life, I didn’t imagine that I’d become the type of person who would be out at a bar in Thailand singing a song about making changes. I had long been under the arguably naïve impression that picking up and making unanticipated changes wouldn’t be an aspect of my life. I would opt to just stay on the constant and comfortable path that I had always envisioned for myself, one consisting of a “career” job that I would get shortly after graduating. Well, learning that planning out every aspect of your life tends to not work so well is a lesson that comes quickly, and maybe a little harshly, but I also feel as though I’ve learned something else, or have had an epiphany of sorts: I really have become the type of person I didn’t think I would, the type of person I admittedly would have judged, a little, in the past. With that said, I’d like to share what I see as being three things that often happen when you become someone, or a type of person, you didn’t think you would:
1. You realize that you never know where you’ll find yourself
When you become someone you used to cast some judgment on, or at least someone you didn’t think you’d become, reality hits you hard in some form or another. You clearly didn’t think you’d one day be doing the things you are now doing, or be surrounded by the like-minded people who are also doing those things. In that way, you come to the realization that there’s really no way of knowing or even predicting where you’ll find yourself. For some people this might seem like common sense, but for me it really wasn’t. As mentioned, I have always been someone who has gravitated towards planning things out. I was never one of those people who resented the “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question, as I often asked that question of myself. I still like to think ahead and plan out the course of my life to some extent (I’m a Capricorn, after all, this quality is written in the stars), but I’ve now learned, in becoming someone I didn’t think I would, that you can plan all you want, but you still might find yourself in situations you hadn’t envisioned for yourself, and as someone with traits and goals that have been shaped and altered accordingly, those which likely differ from ones originally held. You never know where you’ll end up, or who you’ll become.
2. You become less judgmental
A very positive aspect about becoming someone you didn’t think you would is that this often results in becoming a less judgmental person, or at least someone whose perceptions of the world and other types of people have changed for the better. Not everyone who changes as a person was judgmental to begin with, of course, but for those of us who can be at times, becoming someone you hadn’t anticipated becoming is fatal to preconceived notions or judgments. How could it not be when in becoming someone you might have once judged, you realize that the qualities you unfairly assigned him or her, in your mind, either aren’t applicable to begin with, or not as inherently negative as you once considered them to be. For example, I might have, admittedly, once cast some judgment on people who were spending their time teaching English in a foreign country, instead of actively trying to establish a “career” job in the field they studied. I would not have done so in a harsh way, but I might have thought something like, “they are probably a little lost, they don’t know what they want to do with their lives, they aren’t as focused or driven as I am, etc.” The cool and unexpected lesson I learned from becoming an English teacher in Thailand is that, a. that’s not uniformly true for the people doing this kind of thing and b. even if it were, there’s nothing wrong with being “a little lost” or not knowing what you want to do, or taking time off from what you want to do to do something else for awhile. I’ve become the sort of person I might have once judged, and in doing so I can say that I’ll go forward as a less judgmental person.
3. You might surprise people
If you find that you’ve become the type of person you didn’t think you would, there’s a good chance you will have surprised other people, along with yourself. Maybe your family and friends never thought t they’d see you doing a certain job, embracing a certain activity or making friends with certain kinds of people. They very well could have had an idea of where you’d end up, just as you had your own.
People love to share their opinions in this regard, sometimes in an unsolicited manner, and you may or may not like what they have to say, but as cliché as it might sound, it’s important to just do what makes you happy and follow your gut. It seems that doing so is when you will most often find yourself evolving into a new type of individual, and from my point of view, the benefits of that are excellent.