#Vietnam. To say that I’m culturally shocked is probably an understatement. This country has a tremendous amount of beautiful landscapes – from limestone mountains to tiered rice paddies. The people? Incredibly hospitable, proud of their homeland (righthly so) and positive. I’ve definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone – by jumping on a back of a motor bike to tour all of northern Vietnam, stopped randomly by cops, staying at two different homestays vs luxe hotels, and letting go of my daily familiarities – the most ever during my #personaljourney. During this trip, I’ve definitely questioned my values, my habits, my tolerance, my comfort zone and wondered why I couldn’t get used to certain things that most find so precious and grateful to even have. Am I a snob? Impatient? Too rigid? Narrow minded? Pretentious? Ignorant? Too Westernized? I’ve confinded in my travel partner a bit and with Stan. My conclusion? I know in my heart who I am, shouldn’t be ashamed of my beliefs or feel guilty for what we have…this experience has made me realized that I have a lot to learn about other cultures, how much more I need to appreciate my life, how to be more tolerant, and that our decision for me to go on this #lifejourney has been the best for me – and has made an impact more than originally intended. I’m so glad I have this time to step outside my bubble to create a better version of me. I’m not the same person today as I was months ago, and I couldn’t be prouder. #life #lifecoaching #travelbuddies #wanderlust #travel #instatravel #truth #lifechanging
I arrived in Thailand with just two suitcases, core essentials, a whole lot of fear and an open-mind. I left behind my fancy purses, shoes and, most importantly, my weave! I was ready to start over and live a simpler life. I was on a journey to find my current self and rediscover my values.
Imagine someone asking you right now “What are your values?” Not you as the professional, the daughter, the mother, the father, the brother … just YOU. What are the most important things in your life? Will you be able to answer? I couldn’t before, but now I can.
Seven months ago, I left my American life as the quintessential perfectionist and overachieving robot for an opportunity to live in the moment and reconnect with family. I didn’t know how each day would go, but I dove right in. For the first time in life, I felt like I was just given a blank canvas and whatever masterpiece I chose to create was up to me.
There were definitely days I felt … useless. Lost. There were days filled with laughter, frustrations and tears. Good tears, bad tears. But, tears, nonetheless. But, this is what I asked for – a reset in life.
Within a day of my arrival, I started exploring untapped interests. Things I never had the time to do. I immersed myself into the Thai life. I joined an expat community (Random Thainess). Then, a gym. Anything and everything I did, I pushed way outside of my comfort zone. I was in total culture shock. I explored my past, reengaged with family, found new passions, volunteered (In Search of Sanuk), lived healthier – mentally and physically – faced cultural differences, and really, just learned a whole lot about myself.
When you start a new anything – job, career, activity, it’s never easy. You become that new kid sitting all alone in the cafeteria. Especially if you break social norms like I did, you’ll be judged. You’ll question yourself. But, you can’t let that overcome you. Forget all the haters, be persistent and maintain your determination. Just focus on YOU.
I remember walking into my gym – I felt like all eyes were on me. I was embarrassed because I felt people were looking at my love-handles, thick arms and pudgy cheeks. Then came the dreaded moment. As part of the body assessment routine, I got on the scale.
AHHH!! How was I ever going to get fit when I had so much to overcome? Perseverance and determination. You just do it. You just keep going – no matter how much it hurts. You get up in the morning, get dressed and get moving.
I wanted to get STRONG. Not lose weight. I wanted to feel FIT. Not get skinny. I wanted to gain MUSCLES. Not look frail. In a country where being thin is a sign of beauty, what I look like today is against the social norm in Thailand. In America, it’s more acceptable to look strong. Immediately after my body started toning up, I received negative feedback – even from strangers! People would touch my arms and say, “mai siuew (not pretty).” Did I want to punch their lights? Yes. Instead, I just smiled. It motivated me to pick up more weights. It motivated me to get stronger. Strength is beauty. Strong is the new skinny.
Redefining Thai beauty – a country where girls with muscles are seen as ugly. Well, you know me… never gave a f about following the crowd!! #fitfam #fitspo #instafitness #girlswithmuscles #weightlifting #fitness #fitnessfirstthailand #fitnesslifestyle @chutun13 the amazing PT. #trainer #weights
A photo posted by Mananya (@stananya) on
Making life changes means you’re going against the grain. It’s you going outside of your comfort zone, redefining social norms and embarking on something you’re naturally wired to avoid – fear and discomfort.
But, remember this: Whatever changes you decide to make – whatever that may look like, if your life just got a bit harder, congratulations, it means you just leveled up.
AND BY THE WAY, I do miss my weave. 😖😬