Ready To Throw in the Towel!

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Tyler* couldn’t believe he was saying the words out loud, but they had been bouncing around inside of him for a while. One year into a 2-year commitment serving in Asia, Tyler found himself admitting to his brother over FaceTime, “I can’t imagine doing another year here. I just want to quit and come home. I think I’m ready to throw in the towel!”

How had he gotten to this point? Tyler had a passion to serve overseas since he was 15. He’d gone through a long interview process, spent a year fundraising, finally made it to his place of service with hopes of staying long-term … and just a year later he wanted to quit?

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As he unloaded to his brother, the story came out: The honeymoon phase of cross-cultural adjustment and life with his team was over. The stress of living in another culture and learning a new language were getting to him. He and his roommate seemed to clash over many things, and had just blown up at each other again that morning. He was frustrated with his supervisor, who talked about resting and taking care of yourself … but seemed to work nonstop himself and rarely approved any time off. Back home, Tyler would blow off steam by going for a run down peaceful country roads or hiking in the nearby mountains, but neither of those was a realistic option in his heavily polluted urban setting. He was tired, irritable, miserable.

“That just sounds like a bad situation, Ty,” his brother said. “Why don’t you quit and come home? I could get you a job working with me. You wouldn’t have to put up with all that. And you know Mom and Dad would be a lot happier.”

Tyler hung up feeling more isolated than ever. His brother had seemed like a safe person to vent to since he was outside the situation, but his family never was fully on board with his decision to move to the other side of the world. Was he really ready to give up? A part of him truly wanted to stay and make this work, at least finish out the two years, but how?

Tyler reached out to someone at his organization, who recommended that he meet with a GRC counselor. As he and his counselor met over the next few months, they began working through the challenges and frustrations Tyler was dealing with. They talked through effective ways to address conflict with his roommate and supervisor. They identified some unrealistic expectations that Tyler had of himself and others, and Tyler was able to bring his expectations more in line with reality. They identified some of the cultural values conflicts he was dealing with and began finding ways to make peace with those.

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They also explored what self-care options Tyler had in his new cultural context, and brainstormed ways to make time for the habits and practices that would help him thrive there long-term. While running outside wasn’t as appealing as it had been for him back home, he was able to join a gym and find some workout routines that helped him relieve stress and stay healthy. He also made a few new friends outside of his team, and found those relationships helped renew his energy to invest both in his teammates and with those he was called to serve. Those two plus a few other changes ended up making a big difference for Tyler in his mood, motivation and overall well-being. Just a few months later, he shared with his counselor that he had decided to renew his contract and stay in his location long-term.

GRC is honored to play a role in helping people like Tyler, whether through preventive or restorative care, or a mix of both. If you are a global worker and would like to meet with one of our care providers, click here to get started.

* Names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of those we serve.