Ex-Pat Late Bloomers in Thailand

Perhaps I’m suffering from ‘rose-tinted glasses syndrome’ but it does seem to me that Thailand is the home of a lot of ex-pat late bloomers. There is plenty of bad press about the nasty foreigners who come here and run amok, but what about those who begin the most successful period of their life? I’m not talking here so much about financial success, although there is undoubtedly that too, but more about happiness and finding worthwhile things to do. I mean those people who come here in middle age (and a lot older) to live a life that is more satisfying than anything they knew before.

dawn on mae ramphung

Thailand Takes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

In a previous post I discussed the possible reasons why there were so many ex-pat writers in Thailand (see here). I said then that one of the reasons for this phenomenon was that Thailand tends to attract dreamers. These people who may not have thrived so well in their home countries but begin to blossom in Thailand. Living in a foreign country pushes you out of your comfort zone; you have to try a new way of life in order to survive long-term. Thailand also makes the ideal clean canvas because it is so different from what a lot of us westerners are used to at home.

It is Never Too Late to Bloom

A late bloomer is an individual who finds success late in life. There are many examples of such people. Raymond Chandler didn’t become a writer until he was 45 and Brendan Gleeson didn’t start acting until he was in his late thirties. Probably the most famous of all is Colonel Sanders who didn’t start his restaurant chain until he was well into his 60s. I might not like what he does to chickens, but there is no doubting his inspiration to those of us who aspire to be late bloomers.

It is possible to become successful no matter how many candles are weighing down our birthday cake. What better place then Thailand for people to find this great happiness? If we are willing to give up our secure lives to go live in a strange land we may have already taken a step along this path. Normality and predictability seems to starve creativity so sometimes you have to give your life a good shaking.

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14 thoughts on “Ex-Pat Late Bloomers in Thailand

  1. Paul I think you have got this spot on. Often we come across the negative vibes here from disgruntled folk while the silent(Majority?) enjoy their lives and continue to bloom.

    True there are days when I wish I was home in the UK, then I remind myself what life would be like there living on my pensions.

    Good post!

    1. Hi Mike, I sometimes miss Ireland. I also get days when I miss England as I lived there for a long time too. I never regret leaving though because I would not have the life I have now if I stayed. I love my life now; most of the time anyway.

  2. I found this a very interesting observation. I often look at other expats and see that they are not typical Americans (or whatever country, but being American, I’m a better judge of Americans than those from other countries). Since I think the other Americans are different from those back home, it then makes me wonder about myself, if other Americans would look at me and say the same–but I can never figure out how, because you can never see yourself as others see you.

    All very interesting questions.

    One other comment on this post–it seems to me that “Better late than never,” comes to mind!

    1. Hi Lynne, it is hard to know how others view us. Maybe it is better not to know.

      I think the benefit of being a late bloomer is that you can probably appreciate success a bit more.

  3. Paul, very well written. For me it’s the newness of it all the exploration that makes me feel alive compared to the cruel drudgery of a life I had in America where everything was centered around work and bills.

    1. Thanks Talen, I think it is too easy to fall into a routine that limits life rather than allows us to reach our potential. I like what Bruce Lee said about how life is always about getting to the next level. He believed that it was much better to die reaching for your goals than to stagnate – he saw stagnation in life as being similar to being dead anyway.

  4. A part of it might come down to the small pond scenario. Back home in the west there are expects stacked a mile high but it’s not the same in SE Asia. I’ve had opportunities here that would have never come my way in the west because those more powerful/knowledgeable grabbed the spots long ago. And knowing what to turn down has been a lesson learned as well.

  5. Hey! I just wrote something very similar! Great minds think alike! And Megan did her own version of expat living-ness. Love it!

    You brought up 2 great points. First, late bloomin’. There is something to be said about delaying childhood and these days, 20something. In a world that constantly wants us to grow up quicker and faster, it makes perfect sense that people are digging their heels in.

    Secondly, creative people. I am waking up to the fact that there are A LOT of artist here in CM. For me, America created the wrong kind of resistance. Thailand gives me that SOMETHING that I need.

    And yes, I think outcasts, if I can use such a strong word, find themselves better served in an environment that allows them to play with their own canvases.

  6. Success is a relative term, its needs to be used in context with other defining terms and events to have any true meaning, which is why many people do not see themselves, or are not often referred to, as being “successful” during certain periods in their lifetimes yet are ultimately viewed different, good or bad.

    I don’t believe all the crap about Thailand being the “paradise” that allows people to achieve what they couldn’t “back home”. The reality is more often that the people who appear to be successful are publicising their own achievements and hiding the realty, or the true context. As such when they fail, as is often the case, others get to see the bigger picture and feel more the fool for it.

    People create their own “Normality and predictability”, its a common human trait for people to seek such, moving to Thailand will not change this fact, only change the view of “Normality and predictability”!

    1. Hi Lloyd and thanks for your comment. I agree that success is a relative term, but in a way so are all the terms we use when describing things. What is important is what it all means to the individual. I agree that some people who may claim to feel this way might not actually feel it inside, but I’m not talking about people claiming to be successful but instead people who actually feel it. At the end of the day it is more important to me how I view my world than how you view my world. Those who achieve their ambitions will tend to feel successful – at least until they find the next challenge.

      People can find a type of normality and predictability in Thailand but they don’t have to do this. I would argue that when individuals make a big change in their life it opens up a world of possibilities. Achieving one goal sets them up for achieving the next one, and this is when life gets really interesting- it is the anecdote to predictability.

      I agree with that Thailand is not a paradise, but it can be a great place to find success.

  7. I was thinking about this general subject just a few hours ago as I walked in a market. I wondered if a person who never felt very connected to life back home would be able to transition here better than someone who was very connected. It turns out to be a simple question and I answer it as I write this. The person who is entirely in touch with and identifies with life in his own country wouldn’t feel driven to leave home in the first place. Why would they? They feel at home. There has to be some impetus for a move like this. It’s clear to me I’ll never be accepted here in Thailand, no matter how long I stay here and that seems to be OK. I’ll always be an outsider here in Thailand, even if I become fluent in the language. Having had practice at being an outsider all my life in my own country is the background that makes that bearable.

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