On May 6, 2014, I left America and became a free man.

Southeast DC to Southeast Asia…Two years later.

Northern Vietnam

By Darrion M. Willis, M.Ed.

I made the decision to leave America to live the life I wanted. I have done the right things growing up; stayed out of trouble, graduated from college, networked and learned from others mistakes. No matter how many prestigious jobs and internships I had, I never felt happy. I felt like I was kissing ass just to get a reference letter (or to get noticed).

The summers from 2008–2013 I worked with the best; Ivy-league ass kissers and show offs (no offense but just the ones I’ve worked with), power-trippin’ bosses, egotistical co-workers who smiled in your face and didn’t give a damn about you after work and many others.

Some of you may know I have political aspirations but I don’t where I can make a real “difference” without feeling empty, feeling like I have to compromise on some initial plans I had going into politics, or simply without kissing ass.

So I left…but never forgot where I came from.

It’s been two amazing and life changing years. So for me, I am on cloud nine living the life and making a difference in children lives as their foreign teacher.

Here is just a bit of the lessons I’ve learned while living abroad.

Rayong, Thailand (2015)

Happiness is key

There are moments where you won’t know anything because you are in a new environment, you can’t speak the language and no one can help. At least that’s what I thought. Asian people are some of the most kind-hearted human beings on the planet. They want nothing but for you to be happy here. There were instances where I was walking around the city and got lost. I was frustrated because I thought I knew where I was going and plus it was very hot that day. I don’t find it strange now that people would come up to me and help me solve my problems.

Your strength derives from your happiness and it’s the key for mental health stability.

What did you say?

Being in another country can be tricky because of the cultural differences and ways of life between myself and others. I’ve caught myself many times getting flustered with a remark that I was offended by. Only to realize that that wasn’t the person’s intent. I have learned to be patient and listen more (and not feel like I’m a target). Some people are curious about where I’m from. I now love to enlighten people about my background and to educate them on black culture and for them to understand that black is beautiful; that there are many types of us. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen, think and then respond (positively that is).

Superman to the rescue!

Being strong is the only option out here. All of the people that I have met traveling are fearless risk-takers who will not quit on living out their dreams. If that means leaving the nest then so be it. I will be honest with you, I had some weak moments but because of the people I surround myself with, I have to put on my “cape” and keep it moving. Man (woman) up!

I walk alone, I walk alone….

(Plays Green Day song)

Back in 2014, I knew that this would be a solo trip, but now I don’t feel completely alone. Many people wouldn’t dare get on an airplane to areas unknown to them. But I did! That’s the beauty of this world. To explore and discover life, art, love, and humanity. We came into this world alone and we’re going to leave this world alone. Being alone (no matter where you are) gives clarity to your own identity. I know more about myself being “alone” for two years than the previous 25 years back in America. I am aware of my self-worth here on this green Earth and it’s only right to live a life traveling the world seeking peace, love, and relationships that will make me a stronger human being.

Being alone is temporary but it creates the bravest and most free-spirited people in the world.

You don’t have to have a lot of money to live your dreams. You just have to start the process and take back the life that’s yours.

I’m glad I did.

#Strive4Greatness