Forest Gump said, “Life is like…”

So yesterday my wallet was stolen while my friend and I were at the beach, enjoying the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea. We were just returning to our things, ready to grab a bite to eat and possibly head to another beach when that sick feeling came over me. I was sure where I’d left my wallet, but it wasn’t there.

After the initial thought discovery dissipated, my mind jumped into repair mode: Turn off the cards. Fortunately, the thieves didn’t get to do much spending. They’d charged one of my cards at a nearby restaurant for 500 Thai baht, which is roughly equivalent to 15 USD. A “pricey” meal for Thailand, but a loss I could stomach.

Being a solo traveler, it’s important to be safe and always aware of your surroundings. I admitted to myself I was not overly precautious about my surroundings because of the mysticism of the beautiful ocean, the smiles on people’s faces around me, and the comfort that comes with traveling with a companion.

The thing, though, is it’s impossible to take every single precaution, but I have learned a valuable lesson (one that will cost me a few inconveniences, but nothing detrimental… fortunately!).

  1. Never keep all your forms of payment in one source. I typically don’t do this either. I happened to have all three of my debit cards in my wallet at the same time, because I was traveling. Usually when I reach my destination I will keep one card behind in my accommodation. And I never travel with my passport unless absolutely necessary. I obviously forgot to do this, and now I remember why I do.
  • Listen to your intuition. I am almost certain I know who swiped my wallet, and the exact time it happened. A little voice in me told me to ask my friend to put my purse in his bookbag while we were in the water, but I pushed it aside as paranoia. Special note: Paranoia, when it’s common sense or intelligence, is not only a good thing – it could one day save your life (or, at the very least the rest of your day while on vacation). Don’t push it aside. Act on it if it makes sense.
  • Be gentle with yourself with bad things happen. Listen, you can be the smart and well-traveled and still get taken advantage of. You cannot control the actions of others, nor can you predict their behaviors 100%. I beat myself up after realizing what had happened because I kept thinking, “I knew better. I’m never this stupid.” The thing is, we are all susceptible to the evils of this world. And sometimes we encounter situations we cannot understand the meaning of for us. “Why did this happen to me?” I don’t believe in coincidences. Yes, I provided the opportunity for the setup, but I think much more level-headed when I remove myself as victim and insert myself as student of life.

I’m writing this on the patio of a beautiful Airbnb condo with a step-out pool and ocean view. I have decided to be grateful for my blessings, instead of wallowing over an experience that has now happened and of which I have no control over – whether I’m stressed and sad about it or not. Things could have gone far worse. I’m not alone, and I’m not broke. My ticket home is already paid for, and my friend has resources should I need help (special note to self: Travel with someone who has access to resources, just in case!). My cards can’t be used, and I have cash at home I can use until I get my replacements.

Shit happens. Sometimes it happens to us. It’s natural to feel sucky at first. Of course, I felt violated for being robbed and disappointed in myself for letting my guard down. Beating yourself up over the past isn’t going to make things better. In fact, research has shown stress actually has a negative effect on our bodies physically. It’s nearly impossible to be productive, positive, or grateful when we’ve triggered stress through our brain. It cuts off reason and positive action, because those chemical receptors have now been charged. Breathe, forgive the perpetrators for taking advantage of you, forgive yourself for setting up a situation for you to be taken advantage of, put on your best dance playlist with a glass of wine, and enjoy life!

Shit happens. Sometimes it happens to us.

Be wise, but be free. Be strong, but be willing to accept help. Be kind, but be in-tune.

Life is good. It’s all about perspective.