Here’s something I just realized: the process of extricating yourself from the First World feels exactly like being on a new diet. Except in this case you’re trying to lose unsightly houses, cars, neighbors, lawnmowers, IRS agents, large appliances, bosses and patio furniture.
And just like a diet, it all starts on the day you realize you’ve had all you can take. I shared my own version of that day in my very first post entitled “The second wingtip just dropped.” It happened on an incredibly unremarkable Tuesday. I was driving to a meeting and suddenly realized that I was slowly killing myself for no good reason.
This moment was exactly like the day a friend of mine sat down at the dinner table, stabbed his fork into a baked potato, placed it on his plate, and began eating it plain. When his wife noticed and asked if he wanted something to put on it, he politely said no. Of course she asked why not; after all, this guy wasn’t 60 pounds overweight from ignoring sour cream and bacon bits. His reaction was to simply take another bite of bone-dry starch, swallow the best he could, and announce: “Because I’m sick of it.”
Whether you’re trying to shed undesirable pounds or an undesirable country, it starts the same way. You must, of your own accord, become thoroughly “sick of it.” Nobody can do this for you. It will not stick–and therefore has no value whatsoever–unless and until you personally feel it in every molecule of your body. This is why Jenny Craig runs more than one commercial. She is waiting for the day when suddenly, for reasons even you may not understand, you see Valerie Bertinelli for 73rd time and clamber for the phone.
But here’s the really positive side of the story: just like a dieter losing his first pound, every time you make even a tiny bit of progress, it’s cause for celebration. When I simply washed the Jeep and put it on Craigslist, that was a win. Seriously, a beer was cracked after that one. Hell, even when my piece-of-shit Jetta finally died in that farmyard, I chalked it up in the win column. After all, I don’t even have to sell it now!
Telling my Dad about our decision was a win.
Turning down a partnership that I would have killed for months earlier was a huge win.
Visiting Costco without even stopping to daydream about buying a big, beautiful plasma TV (not backpack friendly) was yet another win.
Someone should invent Weight Watcher’s style meetings for aspiring expats. You come to the meeting, grab a finger sandwich and a chair, take turns telling what you did to get one step closer to your goal, enjoy a little applause, etc. And when the last table lamp is sold and the final relative informed, you give your supporters a round of hugs and get the fuck out of Cleveland.
By the way, it looks like the Jeep is actually going to sell this afternoon. That’s 3,000 pounds in one day!