One of the unexpected realizations I’ve had since being in Thailand is the ability we all posses to adapt to unfamiliar environments. And not just to adapt or acclimate, but to actually thrive and flourish amidst the uncomfortable nature of change. The choice to come to Thailand wasn’t all that daunting. For some reason, six weeks did not seem like a long time to me. I knew that the work would be hard and the culture would be different, but that was still safe and sound in my comfortable life in the states. I applied, was accepted, and headed off into the unknown.
It wasn’t until the end of my first week in Thailand that it really set in: I have to repeat this week over. Five. More. Times. The almost palpable humidity and then intense heat. The feeling of being sweaty 80% of the time. The living with 16 other strangers in an unfamiliar house. The buzzing mosquitoes and other mysterious creatures. The awkward language barrier with the villagers. The planning of projects and the feeling of total exhaustion at the end of each day. How could all of this newness ever begin to feel normal? For a while I truly believed that it wouldn’t. And then, without even realizing that it was happening, it did. The humidity feels good and I welcome it with every rainstorm. The strangers I live with gradually became friends as we came together over projects and nightly dinners. The language barrier allows me to communicate friendship and love to the Thai people in non-verbal ways. The feeling of exhaustion lets me know we worked hard and made a difference. The newness and uncomfortable feelings from that first week slowly edged its way into my life as the new normal. And since then I have been able to accept my time here as my new reality and fully appreciate each new day that comes.
It all began once I turned my focus on myself and my own experience to the bigger picture and the reason why I came in the first place. Change is hard no matter how severe the degree, but with time we learn to adapt to our surroundings. The important part is recognizing how these new circumstances can create positive change within ourselves.