Make the Decision to Change your Life

We’re all very much aware of–not to mention sick to death of– the clichés thrown around on Social Media. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” is a quote often misattributed to Confucius. Or then there’s the “Be the change you want to see!” This gem of self-parody is written in questionable fonts by a friend you just know will be the same sappy sucker next January as s/he is right now in the middle of this plague. New year, same lame old you. My personal favorite is, “What you think, you create. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you become,” because it is so categorically untrue it baffles me the type of mind that believes in such penny ante prose. 

This new age non-content reminds me of a friend who was bragging to me about manifesting his wealth. He was pretty self-pleased with these cliched nuggets of wisdom he was dropping until I looked over and said, “Didn’t your dad die and leave you a bunch of money?” He didn’t have much of a reply because if he had, in fact, literally manifested his wealth I’m sure the police would like to know about it. 

No one loves ripping on hippies and the enlightened digital lynch mob more than yours truly. But I do have to give them some credit, clichés exist for a reason. And the reason they exist is because behind every cliché is some grain of truth. Of course, most people only employ these tactics because they want something from you. But then, I too, want something from you. At the end of the day, this ‘Think and Grow Rich’ bullshit is only going to enrich the person selling you that pill, and the last time destiny was manifested it involved genocide.

“But Ray, how does any of this help me?”

Great question. If you’re on this site it’s probably because you’re considering a change that will drastically alter the course of your life. As I said in my last dispatch, cowards and the faint of heart need not apply. Adventure is not for everyone. But if you think a life abroad might be for you, then you have to make that decision for yourself.

There’s a thousand reasons why I think you should choose a life abroad. Perhaps you’re bored with the course of your life in the suburbs or cornfields. I can assure you, the college, job, spouse, spawn, house route will hold no wonder. It is secure, yes. And I imagine it makes some people happy. But you’re never going to tell your drinking buddies with a sly grin about how despite everything you made that mortgage payment. Your bereft children won’t inscribe on your tombstone that time you almost made the state championships. 

But making a novel decision isn’t enough on it’s own. It’s the hallmark of hippies everywhere to talk about change without ever doing a thing. After the choice has been made, you must begin the process of working towards the move abroad. 

Unless your part and parcel with the privileged class, making that move abroad won’t be easy. Hard choices and sacrifices will need to be made. You’ll need to save up a few thousand dollars at a bare minimum to fund your new life. Which is why you should monetize your passion to travel. It’s been mandated in my contract I say one nice thing about TeachAfar in every post. Here we go: with a TEFL certificate from TeachAfar, you can work your way around the world. But that’s not the only way to subsidize your travels. You can dust off that git-fiddle and busk the streets. You can host guided tours of the city for tourists. In some countries, your visa for teaching will also allow you to work outside the school. The world needs bartenders, and your native English skills will make you a welcome ear to bend for the lonely traveller. 

But before any of this can happen, you have to commit to that move. Conservatively, I would set aside at least six months to plan and execute. Have you always been fascinated by anime and manga? TEFL teachers make top dollar in Japan. So while you’re saving money, brush up on your Japanese, find a place to live, be it a hostel, an Air BnB, or apartment. Learn about the customs and norms of the place you’re going while job hunting and wishing for merciful death during the bureaucratic limbo that is the visa process. Set your location to Tokyo on Tinder, and line up dates before you ever even arrive. Choose your travel time and book your ticket months in advance. Every step you take towards your goal will reinforce that first decision.

Since I opened this dispatch with a cliché, it would only be fitting I end with one, too. But as opposed to the new age nonsense I quoted earlier, I’d like to take you back to the darker age of the 1990s. It’s a quote from the band Pennywise, who named themselves after Stephen King’s killer clown. It’s short, sweet, simple, and true. “You get the life you choose.”

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