The Quest to Figure It All Out
So I've made no secret of the fact that I have made no plans for this trip. A return ticket is just a visa-mandated formality. I've got lists and collection after collection on Instagram of places I want to visit. There's tentative plans to show up all over Europe and the mantra of "I'll figure it out."
But what does that actually mean? Now that I'm actually here, on the other side of the world, how do I figure it out? Radical self-responsibility is hard to achieve when you don't know where to begin.
Thinking about is overwhelming. Frankly, I feel like there are so many decisions to make.
Let's start with the easy ones - what am I doing today? What things should I see or should I be working today?
And then, let's look a little further. How long am I staying in London? What country is next? And if I take that weekend in Edinburgh, should I get a return ticket or just stay up there and keep exploring Scotland?
Now those questions I can more easily shrug off and take them one at a time. The novelty of being able to make such choices helps to soften the pressure of actually making the decision. And I'm fortunate that I've got a place to stay with friends at the moment (although I am also painfully aware that I cannot be so laissez-faire about my travel plans when I'm relying on their kindness and hospitality).
But all of this pales in comparison of the bigger question. What does this mean for the future?
I wanted this trip to push myself and my convictions about being a digital nomad. I wanted to see if London was a place I could base myself and whether that meant a more long-term stay. I wanted this to be about designing my life, all while I was living it.
Taking the leap to do so was scary enough. But now that I'm here, I've realised that I did not give much thought to what the day to day would look like.
Yes, I love London. The streets, the markets, the colourful terraces and amazingly historical architecture - I'm enamoured by this city. I have been walking for hours on end, just exploring and the awe and magic of the place continues to capture me every single time I hit the streets. I'll admit that I've been lucky the weather has been quite good but the gloominess has added to the mystique of the city and right now, I love the city too much to mind.
But does that mean that yes, I'm done, I'm moving to London? I don't know. It has only been a week.
Am I just waiting for the magic to run out to tell me it's time to leave? I don't know. What if that never happens?
The craziest thing is I don't know how to find out either.
Frankly, I could see myself living here - both working and being a digital nomad. London was the first place I lost myself completely in the city and since then, it had always been a dream of mine to move and work here. That feeling has only strengthened since I've been here.
It's been nice to be in a city that already feels so familiar. It makes me feel better about spending a whole day in a cafe or even at home working when I don't have that nagging feeling of FOMO or that I need to be out exploring and making the most of my time travelling as well. It also helps that for once, I have absolutely no end date or time pressure that makes it all feel so pressurised.
But I also feel like this might be conceding too early. I mean, I guess the point of doing location-independent work is to be independent of the location. London is awesome but trying to figure out if I stay here forever is both exhausting and counterintuitive. Questioning every step to see if this is something I could live with - from every tube ride or change in the weather - is so tiresome. Every city is going to have its greatness and its downfalls. There's never going to be a perfect place - that's not even the point.
It'd be so much easier if by some strike of lightning, I was suddenly enlightened with my exact plan of attack for the next five years - or even the next few months. While I can't ignore the effect that visas and money will have on this nomadic adventure, it's also the exact excitement and freedom that this lifestyle has offered me at this time.
Trying to be a digital nomad isn't just about the work or the philosophy around rejecting corporate life. It's also about the nomad side of things - embracing the adventure and letting go of the idea that I have to have any of this figured out.