Daring to Say Yes

I did not want to go…. My husband had been saying for several years that, one day, he’d like to go back to his home country. This last year and a half, he was serious. He really wanted to go back, and I was not ready to leave Europe.

I had been to Suriname with him in 2014, but it hadn’t been great. There wasn’t much to do, and I had found people not very friendly. I always say that everybody deserves a second chance and that is why I had agreed to go a second time. Three years later, we went back for another holiday, and I had the same impression. I did not like the place, nor the people.

We were now in 2021. After numerous discussions, not to say arguments, we had almost decided he would go back to his country and I would stay in Luxembourg, close to my family and friends. Even though I had often wondered what it would mean to live on another continent, I just could not agree to move to Suriname.

However, one evening in February 2021, something happened, I am not sure what or why. I started to challenge myself. I was always encouraging people to go outside of their comfort zone. I was always saying we should embrace change. And I often had followed this guideline throughout my life. So, why could I no longer follow this rule myself?… I then remembered what had happened with Luxembourg. It had also been a country where I had said for more than 20 years that I would ‘never’ go to… When I got the opportunity to go and work for Amazon European headquarters in Luxembourg city, I, in the end, decided to try…. And looking back, I now tell myself I should have gone earlier to Luxembourg! What a beautiful and peaceful country it was, what a great time I had for several years. The ‘never’ I had imposed on myself then had been for the wrong reasons. Moving to Luxembourg turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

As soon as I realized this, something ‘clicked’ inside of me. I needed to walk the talk. If I agreed to move to Suriname, I had nothing to lose. And if I did not try, I would never know what it would be like. So, on one of these cold evenings of February 2021, I told my husband “OK, let’s try and go!”. He first was speechless. After all these discussions, he could not believe I had finally said yes. Yes, I had said yes, and my decision was taken. I would move with him to South America. I however said that, if for any reason, things do not turn out well, I would come back to Europe. He agreed.

I spent most of 2021 planning for the move. Organizing things in Luxembourg but also in Suriname; informing my family and friends; getting rid of things, packing, selling my car, etc. I was mostly worried about the fact I would not be able to see my mother as often as I used to. Even though I have left France more than 25 years ago, I always managed to visit her every 3-4 months from all the countries I had lived in. I promised her I would call regularly and would come back and visit whenever I could.

And so, at the end of 2021, I made the jump and moved to Suriname. It would become the 7th country I’ve lived in, but the first one outside of Europe for me. For those of you who have never heard about this country, it’s one of the four countries in South America where they do not speak Spanish. It’s located just above Brazil, between French Guyana and Guyana. As soon as you land, you see written at the airport that Suriname is the ‘most forested country’ in the world.

And truly, I am amazed by the beautiful nature, including the different types of palm trees, the different animals, and birds I hear and see, the new fruits and vegetables I discover.  Since I’ve arrived here, I have the impression I landed in a new country, completely different from what I had experienced previously. I always find things to do, but most importantly, I meet very friendly people here. They are always laughing and trying to help. It looks like what I had noticed the first two times I came here was simply ‘bad luck’ and that then, I met a few people who had simply had a bad day…

When I moved to Suriname, I was not planning to work or look for a job at the beginning. My goal was to settle down, slowly but surely, get to know the country a bit more, and be closer to nature. The crazy thing that is happening to me now is that within a few months, I met a few French speakers, some of them from the French embassy, and thanks to them, I am now going to be one of the teachers here in the capital city, Paramaribo to provide French lessons! I have also been asked to participate in a few other projects, so who knows where this will lead me…

I recently re-watched the movie ‘Yes man’ with Jim Carrey and had to smile. Yes. When you say “Yes!” to things, the universe will work in mysterious ways. Somehow, once you remove the barriers (that you yourself have put in your head), new doors will open. New paths will appear. Things you never thought would be possible suddenly emerge, making you wonder why it took you so long to accept the change….

Life is full of (nice) surprises if you let it happen. If someone had told me at the beginning of 2021 that one year later, I would be writing from South America, I would have said ‘No way!’…

If you’ve always said “No” to something, maybe it’s time for you to dare to say “Yes!” Who knows where you could be or what you could be doing in a year’s time? I dare you…


Virginie Lemay
Virginie Lemay
Virginie Lemay is an international Leadership Trainer/Coach/Consultant based out of Luxembourg. She is originally French but has been an expatriate for more than 25 years. She fluently speaks 5 languages (French, English, German, Dutch, and Italian) and has lived in 6 different countries. With more than 20 years experience leading international/virtual teams, Virginie is a true advocate for Diversity and Inclusion, She worked in senior leadership roles in big international organizations such as Amazon. Virginie combines her two passions (training/coaching and dancing) and helps people Succeed in the Adventures of Leadership and Self Assurance (SALSA). She basically turns professionals into global leaders by improving their communication, international leadership skills, and confidence. Virginie is also the author of the book "My revenge on life", where she shares how to become the leader of your own life and flourish in the midst of seemingly hopeless circumstances. You can find more information on her website and LinkedIn listed above.

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