I’ve been intent on keeping it real throughout this whole trip. I know I’m no expert in digital nomadism because I’m still trying to figure out what that even means. I’ve been forthcoming about my struggles and my doubts. But in all this “realness,” I’ve started to lose sight of the good about it all.
I no longer know how to distinguish my feelings between those that are growing pains from being in a new city and a new lifestyle to those that signal that I might not be cut out for all of this. I don’t know if I’m cut out of this and I’m disappointed that it’s been harder than I thought it would be. I’m letting myself and what feels like everybody else that this hasn’t just been a fairy tale.
And I know it is silly to be even complaining. I am actually living my own dream. For goodness sakes, I’m writing this while I drive through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
But in all honesty, I’m disappointed that I’ve felt so lost while finding myself.
I am still that same basic bitch going through a millennial life crisis…at 24.
I feel the FOMO of all the choices that I don’t make. I feel stuck in a limbo between committing fully to this lifestyle and testing the waters of whether I’m ready for it. And I feel hopeless, unsure of where to even begin.
Yes, the travelling has been incredible and I’ve been able to see and achieve so much already. But it’s almost been a distraction from having to deal with the bigger questions of sustainability and designing an actual lifestyle.
As much as I don’t want people to think I’m just on holiday, I know I’ve still been treating it like it is.
But then, as much as I don’t want people to think that it’s a carefree life, I don’t know how to not get bogged down in the negatives and still enjoy all the good.
With all the choices in front of you, how do you make them? With no paths to follow, where do you even begin to forge your own?
I am essentially relearning how to make life choices.
Suddenly, these choices are unbound by permanency or responsibility. I’m not making choices to continue on my career path or that will lock me in to months or years of a time in one place.
The priority in my choices starts with me and my own wellbeing. And that’s scary. I can’t help but feel guilty.
We are predisposed to think that every life choice is made for the benefit of our future. Choosing an entire career path, saving for a house deposit, committing. But the entire idea of this lifestyle was to commit to the now and more importantly, to me.
Just because it’s a life I never imagined for myself, doesn’t mean it’s not a life that I deserve nor one that is currently my reality.
I feel guilty and confused as having quite so much responsibility for my own happiness. In going with the flow, I was getting used to finding happiness out of a situation rather than actively pursuing it.
But now, I am pursuing a lifestyle of which I have ownership so as to explore my passions, experience new things out of my comfort zone, connect with people who will help me on my way so that I can pursue my mission in life.
And I have to remind myself to enjoy the journey. To shed the layers of expectation and disappointment and accept this lifestyle as my new reality. And it all starts with shifting how we think of our choices and of our lives.
1. Embrace the FOMO
FOMO is inevitable when the choices are endless. There can always be another country to visit or another place you could be. Being fixated on where you aren’t rather than where you are will not only ruin any travel experience, but life experience. A little blind trust in the direction you’re going can go a long way to feeling present and satisfied with whatever comes.
2. Prioritise the bigger things
It’s all about the balance between work and play. Though the play is definitely more fun when you’re on the other side of the world and able to explore amazing things, the work is what is sustaining my ability to do so.
So maybe it’s about prioritising work for a week so that I can go play on the weekend. Or maybe it’s about prioritising those bucket list items – like King’s Day in Amsterdam or being around for one of my best friend's birthdays – that start making the choices a little clearer and easier to make.
3. Accept the good and the bad.
Accepting that this is reality means accepting that it comes with all the good and the bad. Even in my pessimism, it was so easy to get swept away by the wanderlust and fantasy of living the dream and the struggles became a little debilitating.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to write my own story and inevitably, the negatives were going to shine through in equal measure. But the confusion, the fear, the doubt doesn’t have to mean the end of it; it’s just a part of life, so they say.
4. Remember why you started
At the end of the day, it was this ownership over my career, my life and my story that I had craved. Realising that despite the hopelessness, the FOMO and the feeling of being stuck is just a by-product of whatever lifestyle I leave, paves the way to realising that this is, in fact, my dream. It’s just now up to me to realise that it’s become a reality.