Thursday, September 26, 2013

If this isn’t reality, then what are we doing here? - Please don’t tell me that living abroad isn’t “real life.”

Looking out over the real world

I’ll be the first to admit that of this crime, I am a culprit. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when the words emerge from behind my teeth, catapulting off my tongue into existence, I immediately feel guilty. Whether or not the transient, travel, and abroad lifestyle is something one adopts for the short or long term, the truth is, this existence is, in fact, real life.

For those of us who have shed our homeland reality for the unbridled freedom of being abroad, we’ve definitely experienced similar results from our friends, family, and acquaintances. Some are very supportive of the choice. The ability to learn, grown, and experience in an atypical fashion is something they admire. Others are not as keen to the idea. Marred with conversations about money, future, and personal health, those unfamiliar with this very normal lifestyle tend to believe it exists outside of the “real world.” As if the experiences, places, people, growths, emotions, falls, triumphs, cuts, scraps, scars, sounds, smells, tastes, loves, laughs or lessons presenting themselves each day are not as relevant as those that exist within the paradigm of our homeland. While the world we all see every day is very tangible, the idea is that only certain aspects of it can be considered “real.” This frame of mind is a misconception.

The problem with the idea of travel being of the fabricated nature is that, if it isn’t real, what the hell are we doing? If experiences in different cultures aren't part of the existing world, what does that mean for the places, the people, and the past times which we have all imbibed in for some part of our reality? I’ll give you an example. An absolutely stunning friend of mine has spent the better part of the past 6 years  imbibing, surviving, and most importantly, thriving in southeast Asia. She has spent time in a multitude of different cities, has worked as a teacher, dancer, and currently as a blessed jewelry designer. Profession aside, overall she is a highly intelligent, spiritual, and beautiful person who has seen both her quality of life, and more importantly, overall health greatly improved since leaving her humble abode. In the same light, she has a boisterous, supportive community of other fellow travelers (wanders, tumbleweeds, hustlers, gypsies) who have also chosen the same lifestyle. Because these folks decided to take an irregular approach to life, does that not mean their triumphs have not been exceptional

There are setbacks, naturally. Many of us do exist in a world of duality. We may be able to permeate boarders with chameleon like grace, but keeping a balance between our home and our home sometimes poses a problem. Choosing to travel can put strain on relationships with those not along for the ride. In the same regards, remembering and realizing pressures from the west can often times combat the beautiful reality staring you in the eyes each moment. Learning to juggle, though, is a small price to pay for creating a reality you see fit. 

Whether you are a person who aspires to live abroad or not, calling this lifestyle unreal is belittling. It takes away from the amazing efforts of those who have chosen to design a reality they adore, as well as the people they are meeting, the beautiful countries they visit, and the aspects of new cultures that keep them hustling everyday to stay afloat. The next time you find yourself in this conversation, realize reality is subjective. While some may chose the school, family, career, death lifestyle, it is OK if some don’t. Reality is what we make of it, and sometimes it is just a bit brighter when it involves beautiful mountains, dancing peacocks, and a strange land you are eager to become acquainted with

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