I grew up as the invisible middle child in a middle class family. My older sister was an extroverted rebel and my younger sister excelled at everything she put her hands to, so in my mind, the attention was always on them. Mostly it didn’t bother me because I’m about 97% introverted and never wanted to stand out. But being invisible never taught me that I have inner strength.
When I moved into a tent on a rock quarry in Mexico at 22 in order to serve the poor, people thought I was going through a phase. I had no idea what I was going through, only that I was searching for something different.
At 26 I got on a plane and moved to Thailand where I was completely alone and didn’t know a single thing about the culture, language, people, etc. Again, people said that I was going through a phase and would be home soon. I just knew that I was searching for home and a place where my soul felt peace.
This month I celebrated my 37th birthday, the 11th spent in Thailand, which puts me living in this country longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life. I think I have found home, or at least home for now.
People often ask me why I’ve stayed in Thailand so long. There are more answers than I could possibly fit in this post, answers about the beautiful people, the diverse culture, the complicated and wonderful language and the delicious food. Oh my gosh, don’t get me started on the fantastic food.
But it really comes down to something deeper. It is here that I discovered my inner strength. It is here that I discovered that beneath my 5 foot almost 1 inch, white skinned, blondish haired, blue eyed exterior is a strength that can move mountains.
Growing up, I always felt pressured to be an extrovert, to be loud and assertive. Or pressured to fit neatly into an introverted box, quiet and somewhat scared of the world. But I’m neither and I never knew what to do with that information. So I kept it to myself.
It was here in Thailand that I learned to love myself. It is here that I learned that it’s not only okay to be the unique me that God created, but it perfect and awesome and a lot of fun!
Occasionally someone will call me brave for traveling the world by myself, for going into nations where I don’t speak the language, for driving a motorbike on the wrong side of the road, for eating unrecognisable foods, for standing up in front of crowds and sharing my story, even the parts that most people would be ashamed of.
Every time it happens, my initial reaction is to tell them they are wrong, that there is nothing brave or special about me. To tell them that I’m just like everyone else. But then there is another part of me that wants to jump up and down and proclaim how badass I am. Don’t worry, I usually land somewhere in the middle..
It’s actually been a process of teaching myself to be simply say thank you to that specific compliment. Growing up, bravery was never a goal of mine, simply because I never saw myself that way and therefore it wasn’t even on my radar. But I can safely say that most things currently in my life, were never on my radar.
I don’t claim to be anywhere near perfect, I’m so far from it that it’s laughable.
But it is here in Thailand that I have learned to work on myself daily, to push myself beyond what I think it possible. It is here that I have proven my inner strength to be greater than anything of this world.
And in my opinion, that is a lesson worth moving solo to another galaxy for!
One of my life verses is Proverbs 28:1 which says “..the righteous are as bold as a lion.” May we all live lives where we get to prove over and over that we are bold as lions!!