Leave your country behind? Well, as a recent college graduate in America, I was working my dream job: full benefits, room for advancement, and daily challenges that kept me interested and engaged. It seemed like the perfect fit for my adult life, and the first step toward the kind of future that I’d always envisioned for myself. Then, three years later, I quit.
Objectively, there was nothing wrong with my life. The problem was me. Within those three years, I realized that I needed something different, so I packed up a small suitcase, put the rest of my stuff in storage, and moved to the island of Zanzibar for a new life and a new adventure. It was the best decision I ever made. Of course, I would not have started this phase of my life if I hadn’t noticed the signs. Here are my three reasons to leave your country behind:
3. Everything Looks Different (and Worse)
Even the familiar things in your life start to seem off somehow. I had a specific moment, about a week before I applied for my new job in Zanzibar, when I noticed that the colors of my wallpaper looked different. I was sitting alone, catching up on paperwork, and I saw that the walls looked grayer than I remembered. Once I noticed that, other things began to look different, too. The grass outside my complex looked patchy. The road had potholes. Even the songs on the radio were tinny and obnoxious.
Now, the world didn’t change around me. Instead, I changed. I was newly aware of all the mundane, disappointing details of my life. This was the biggest sign that I needed to move abroad. It was this steadily building feeling that seeped into each part of my life until everything—from clouds to candy—will seem just a bit worse.
2. Nothing Makes You Happy
You rewatch your favorite movie and find yourself fast-forwarding through most of it. You check out the latest comedy and sit there in silence, not even smiling. You quit a basketball game halfway through. You throw out your ice cream cone before it even melts. These are all activities that used to give you joy, but now they just leave you cold.
Once again, this is a sign that you’ve changed. The ice cream cone tastes just as sweet as it used to. The rules of basketball haven’t magically changed in the last few days. Instead, you’re finding it harder and harder to eke out the same level of enjoyment that you expect. By changing your scenery, you’ll have a whole new list of activities to discover, and when you do eventually go back to the same movies and the same basketball games, they’ll start to feel new again. You’ll be refreshed.
1. Little Frustrations Become Big
There will always be daily frustrations, whether you live in Albuquerque or Zanzibar. Even paradise has its rainy days. Still, most frustrations aren’t that important. When you start to inflate them in your own mind, that’s when you need a change of scenery. Starbucks lines will suddenly feel impossibly long. An aggressive tail-gater will come across as the worst driver in the world. Even something as small as a papercut will be the source of hours of annoyance.
Humans have the unique skill to take everything in stride, but that ability weakens when people grow tired of their current situation. How can you possibly handle a paper cut when you can’t handle the direction that your life is heading? If you find yourself getting angry at the smallest stuff, then it’s time for a change.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, it’s only natural to wish for something more, or at least something different. By choosing to move to a new place, you aren’t admitting defeat. You’re not an ungrateful person. You just need to be refreshed. Whether you return to your old life in a week or a year or not at all, that all depends on you. In the meantime, look out for the little signs, because they will tell you whether you’re really happy.