Brass tits and big balls


Him: “Your wife has brass tits.”

Me: [Getting into my best karate stance and preparing to smote him with righteous fury] “Excuse me?”

Him: [Backing up] “No, no, no… What I mean is she’s very self-assured.”

Me: “Yes, she is… And yes she does…”

I’d never heard the phrase before, but one could argue I guess that my friend was guilty of a sexist colloquialism. He wasn’t.

“Brass tits” is simply the fairer sex version of “big balls”.  And who among us swarthy, hairy, neanderthals wouldn’t want a pair of those?

I’m increasingly persuaded that both are in high abundance among expats living in foreign lands. It certainly seems to be the case among expats we know here in Panama.

Here’s why I believe it’s so:

Leaving the comforts and familiarity of your birth country is intimidating and stressful. It requires a big leap of faith that you’ve got the right stuff… That you can persevere in the face of difficulty and new challenges… That you are prepared to get way outside of your comfort zone.

Ultimately it requires faith in self.

If you’re someone who has ever considered moving abroad, you may be wrestling with whether you have what it takes.

Believe me, I sure did:

We’d been in Panama for three weeks. Our home was not finished (it was supposed to be ready when we arrived) and we were living with a four year old and two year old in a cramped hotel room while quickly blowing through our carefully planned first year budget. Neither of us had jobs, we’d sold our house, our cars, and most of our belongings.

I actually remember thinking what it must have been like for the throngs of immigrants who disembarked on Ellis Island in a different time. We weren’t penniless of course, and could always return home, but the angst of that period in our lives was stratospheric and it gave me a newfound respect for what it must have been like for them.

But we persevered… And in the process, we both grew a pair.

Our experience I’m sure is no different than the dozens of other expats we meet here on a regular basis. The one thing we have in common is that we’ve all been scared shitless, worried, anxious and frightened. We’ve all wrestled with self-doubt.

John Wayne once said that courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway. And here’s what happens when you “saddle up anyway”: You slowly become more self-assured, more self-confident, and better prepared to master adversity.

Two examples…

We are close friends with a couple who moved to Panama from California where he was a very successful home developer. They also have four kids, one of whom was less than six months old when they made the move. They gave it all up and opened a successful hotel on one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in Panama. Were they initially filled with self-doubt, anxiety and worry? Absolutely.

We are also good friends with a single mother from Argentina who moved to Panama when her son was not even a year old. She struggled to become financially self-sufficient and now runs a very successful surf school and adventure tourism business. Same glide path here: She was initially plagued with self-doubt, pushed on through, and today is a successful entrepreneur.

The common denominator in the examples above and among dozens of other expats we’ve met  here in the past six years is that they now approach life from a position of strength, not weakness.

Here’s another fascinating observation: While the vast majority of the expats we’ve met are successful, paradoxically, they are not motivated by money. They are motivated by something more important and powerful: Freedom… Individual freedom, freedom from fear and anxiety, freedom to live their lives on their own terms.

The world today is awash in fear – fear about the economy, fear about jobs, fear about money, fear about the future. These are macro and structural trends largely occurring at the global level, and you as an individual can do little to change them.

Fear also sells… It’s hardly a coincidence that the commercial breaks of the nightly fear propaganda (aka “evening news), are punctuated with 30-second pharmaceutical ads for depression, anxiety and incontinence.

Look, I’m not suggesting that you need to do something as dramatic as moving to a foreign country to learn how to master fear. In our case, that was a surprising and unanticipated byproduct. But if you have ever considered the option, the world beyond your borders is alive with opportunity.

Fear paralyzes, but pushing the boundaries of personal fear and anxiety — however you may choose to do it — is liberating. It’s also the key to opportunity and one of the most positive life-affirming transformations you can make.

 

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