— Because Someone Had To Tell You

Surprising things I learned when I quit the city and moved to paradise

At this point, I almost feel like the long johns are part of my body. After yanking on my thermal underwear for what feels like the six-thousandth morning in a row this winter, the idea of leaving it all behind – just peace-ing-out to a tropical island somewhere – seems like an insane fantasy. Except for the fact that I’ve actually already done it.

I’d just left a blah job in my city to launch a career as an international freelance-ess on tropical shores. My boyfriend scored a job in the Caribbean and I wanted to see the world – and learn to surf – so off we went, Ray-Bans and MacBooks in tow.

A dream come true! everyone said. So romantic! I felt like a bit of a bum leaving my friends and family in their non-fantasy lives while I jetted off into the kind of sunsets you find on Lisa Frank school supplies. But what else was a girl with globetrotting ambitions supposed to do: say no when romance and adventure called?

So I set up my freelance desk in our un-air-conditioned apartment on the edge of the Caribbean shore only to realize… that not everything about life on a tropical island was paradise! (Whaaat? I know.)

Sure, I could walk ten steps from my home, jump in the waves and be swimming alongside the sea turtle family that lived in the reef behind our apartment. But we also had our fair share of problems. My boyfriend and I suddenly had zero personal space… we were perpetually up in each other’s grills, and all sweaty and hair-frizzy, at that. And lizards pooped on our clean laundry and hurricanes messed up our apartment (and our island) and all the real things that happen in real life when you’re not on vacation… they happened. Non-fantasy life happened!

Now it’s a few years later, I’m back to living in a world where it snows in the winter, and I’m starting to get sentimental for the sun and sand. As I think back, I can see now that it was actually the less-than-awesome aspects of my tropical life that taught me so many valuable life lessons. Here’s what I learned from my misadventures on the island…

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