I’ve been traveling Southeast Asia for five months, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam. I’ve learned countless valuable things during this time, how to cook new foods, how to ride a manual motorbike, how to scuba dive, how to be more social, how to push my limits, the list goes on. Looking back I’ve realized that one thing trumps them all. The greatest thing I’ve learned while traveling is the power of choice. Choosing one option over the other has often led me to unforgettable experiences, many of which were not happy ones but extremely important. Looking back on all of the decisions I’ve made I realize that all of the most prominent memories I have of the past five months were forged after consciously choosing one option over the other. Thinking about the choices you have while faced with them is something a lot of people neglect to do. For example, getting out of bed as your alarm goes off instead of snoozing is choosing to start the day off the right way, whereas snoozing is oftentimes neglecting that you have a choice and succumbing to the temptations of more sleep, thus accepting consequences that you would not have accepted had you considered your choice. Whether or not you’re aware of your choosing is pertinent to understanding the outcomes of all of your decisions, and so I’ve been attempting to be conscientious of all of the choices I’ve been making these past five months. The results have been life changing.
The biggest choice I’ve made so far has been to stay and live in Hanoi, Vietnam, rather than continue traveling to other countries or go back home. It’s had the greatest effect on both my character and my experiences. I was faced with the choice of spending the last of my money to go to more countries, or staying put and seeing what I could do with what would be given to me in the few months that I would be spending in Vietnam. There were factors I had to consider to make the choice. I had to consider the amount of money I had as well as the amount of money I would be spending if I were to continue traveling versus the amount I would be spending living in Hanoi. Furthermore, I had to decide what to do with my time while living in Hanoi which opened up the possibilities of working in a foreign land as well as creating lasting bonds with the locals. Lastly, I contemplated on what would be best for myself in terms of self-growth, which is what I was most interested in pursuing during this trip. The decision was easy after thinking of all of these factors, I’d be staying in Hanoi because it would be fiscally beneficial, personally challenging, exciting and new.
With the decision made I was given many opportunities, much more than if I had decided to continue traveling. Of all of the opportunities presented I’ve been attempting to make the most out of every one, and failing occasionally which is great because it’s helping me learn more about myself. I’ve had the opportunity to teach English to both children and adults, live a new daily lifestyle which comes with all new problems and routines, have more free time and experience a new culture thoroughly. The ample free time I’ve been given has allowed me to focus on something I’ve always wanted to do but have been too intimidated to attempt, write a book. I’ve been doing my best to write one for about a month now and by the time I leave Vietnam I will hopefully have my first draft complete.
All of that being said, the conscientious choice to stay in Vietnam, after thinking about all of the possibilities has allowed me to push my life to new limits that I don’t think I would have ever considered had I not stayed, let alone even left my home. Every choice I’ve made since that point I’ve taken under a microscope and examined thoroughly. Living life in terms of choice has made it easier for me to accomplish goals as well as hold only my self responsible for every outcome and so the next time you’re faced with a problem remember to think about the fact that you are choosing to make a choice. You will find yourself getting closer to the person you’ve always wanted to be much quicker.
Jason is an adventure lover from Bayonne, New Jersey. He is currently teaching English and living in Hanoi, Vietnam. He loves writing, riding motorbikes, backpacking, trying new foods and experiences. Jason writes in another blog called Definitely Not Missing.