Am I too old to try Location Independence / the Digital Nomad lifestyle?
Breaking with convention.
Why is it that both of these terms still feel a bit dirty to me? Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s still not widely recognized, that freelancing over the internet is actually a viable way of making a living. Not everyone goes into affiliate ad sales or drop shipping (there is nothing wrong with either of these, by the way. It’s just not for everyone), or ponzy schemes or alternatively, living like hoboes on the verge of starvation. The other reason, perhaps, is that for most people it seems undesirable, and for still others absolutely horrifying, to be without the stability of a 9-5 job, villa and meticulously trimmed hedge. But here’s the thing. I can’t seem to put it away again. It’s like I’ve tasted forbidden fruit, and now I have to have it.
It fills a lot of my time, trying to figure out a way to make this work for the future.
First of all, I feel like I have no transferable skills. And that’s just ridiculous. But, honestly, making a real plan for taking the leap into solopreneurship is one thing, adding to that the intention of making a business for myself that allows me to travel, and be independent of location, can at times seem totally unrealistic.
When I posted the intro to this page (which has now been edited, but you can find the post here) I received quite a bit of feedback. Interesting feedback, but not unexpected. I published this post, knowing that it was extremely personal, and because of this I was prepared for reactions. I have been lucky, because no one has attacked me in a confrontational manner or spread “online hatred” in any way. But, I found it extremely illuminating to read the comments none the less.
For the most part, I was met with the opinion that it was somehow a little sad, and I think they felt a bit sorry for me. As if I am searching for something, a missing piece if you like – an inability to settle down and be content with what and where I am. But here’s a shocker: I am searching! I am missing a piece, and I am not content where I am, if I were to stay there forever.
Now, I realize that this lends itself to a whole can of worms regarding my future happiness and ability to settle down, and general mental health - but that is exactly the topic I wanted to discuss here today.
Is it antiquated to think that being a roaming human, looking to see and experience as much of the world as possible, guarantees unhappiness and an unfulfilled future? I think so!
I have tried for years now, to quell the urge to just pull up stakes and travel. It’s where I feel most alive, most like a version of myself that I truly recognize – and more importantly, a version of myself that I really like! I did go to New York for three months quite spontaneously, and then moved to Spain from Denmark for 2,5 years. I’ve been back in Copenhagen for 3 months now – and I am absolutely chomping at the bit to get out!!
But am I fooling myself? Am I so busy with new impressions when I travel, that it drowns out the otherwise constant chatter that runs as a narrative inside my head? Perhaps. But why is that bad? I feel so calm, so at ease, so creative yet focused when I travel. Most of all, when I am in nature.
Curiosity: Every. Single. Day.
Walking the Camino de Santiago on a 62-day solo hike last autumn, is perhaps the most self-indulgent and absolutely bewitching experience of my life. In actual fact, the more time that passes since having returned (5 months and counting, as I write this), it becomes increasingly clear to me, that I was extremely happy, energetic and best of all: curious. Every. Single. Day.
How often can you say that at home, in a stifling monotonous daily routine? Don’t get me wrong – I completely reserve the right to change my mind in the future!! Perhaps, if I do manage to find a viable or several good sources of income while being location independent, and I live that lifestyle for a while, then I still eventually choose to settle in one place. I actually can imagine that happening. Particularly because the level of unrest and wanderlust that I feel, to a large extent I believe, is a direct consequence of my upbringing. Funnily enough though, my brother feels quite the opposite I believe, and relishes having a stable base. So maybe it’s just how I am. And that is okay too.
Wanting to be independent of any given location does not make me a freak, it doesn’t make me flighty or unreliable, and it doesn’t make me incapable of forming deep and meaningful relationships. On the contrary, I am much more present and empathetic when I am thriving too.
One of the main reasons that I want to be location independent, is so that I can spend more time (quality time) with my family. We are spread far and wide on the planet, and I imagine being able to earn a real income, while travelling to see them would be the ultimate luxury.
Having a home base.
If at all possible, I intend to keep my apartment as a home base – although again, I reserve the right to change my mind. What if that just doesn’t make any sense? What if I want to use the money from monthly expenses saved, on converting a van? (Which is pretty high up there on my wish-list!!). What if I meet the man I am supposed to settle down with, while on the road, and we decide to travel intensely before finding our spot, or what if we want to keep travelling? What if, on my travels I discover that being a digital nomad really was just a dream, and now I want to come “home”?
I reserve the right to be me. I think I am, by now old enough to speak from personal experience. And up until now, the easiest and most fulfilling decisions I have ever made were New York, Spain, the Camino etc. Actually, deciding, planning and walking the 1350km through Spain wasn’t scary, difficult or tiring at all. I didn’t lose interest, the dream didn’t fade and I didn’t regret going. Not once. So, if actually completing this (a physical challenge, that when I think about it, still kind of surprises me) was so easy, then it must have been fueled by something different. Something special. Something magical.
I want magic in my life.
Today, more than ever before, due to the internet being a completely integrated part of nearly every single field of employment, it is much more viable to roam. Many employers are also getting onboard with the idea of employees working remotely (some have been into this for years), but now it’s gaining popularity in the main stream as well.
Why shouldn’t I be on this wave? Because I’m too scared to fail? Too conventional? Too old?
Rubbish. I am 33 years old, and yes I do want children, and I do want to get married, but I also know that I haven’t found peace in the conventional work setting yet, so why not go for it?
“Location Independence” and “Digital Nomad” are terms that seem strange and novel to almost every single person in my network. Once again, I feel that I am in some way on the fringe. To most of my friends and family, that have seen me bounce around the last couple of years, with an ever-ready stream of new ideas, projects and plans, I must seem like a pitiful mess. But like many within the online community of travelers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads – I am quite normal. Some nomads of course, knew exactly how they were going to make a living on the road. Most apparently effectively transferring their previous corporate or industry jobs, to freelance positions. But for others, like me, they are still going by the age-old adage of trial and error.
I’m in the R&D phase of my life.
How am I supposed to know what my passion is, if I don’t try all of it?
I hate that term. Passion. But I understand why it has gained such popularity. Who wouldn’t want to be passionate about what they do every day? And that is exactly why my desire to “help” others is once again floating to the surface of my priorities in finding a profession. But I am not going back to working as a medical doctor. (If you think I’m being ridiculous, read this). Surely, I must be able to find a profession whereby can I help others and spread some good energy in our world, without being tied to my academic training. I’m still working on it….. Coaching, volunteering, motivational speaking. Or maybe, I should just let myself off the hook, and forget the conventional definition of “helping”, and spread positive energy, by actually being creative and doing something that is purely for me? As I write this, I am striving for a bit of everything. Only time will tell how that pans out. I am in the R&D phase of my life.
All I can say is, so far, the thing that has me feeling most passionate is the general concept of being location independent. (Shout out to Simon Sinek for making me ask myself “why?”). Why am I doing what I am doing, and perhaps more importantly, what is the one thing that consistently gives me the ability to refocus, when I get sidetracked or overwhelmed? At the moment; that is my intense desire to be productive, self-reliant and happy, while being able to spend more time with my family. A top priority, that anyone that has ever met me, knows is the epitome of me. Making a living doing something that brings me joy, money and flow (thanks to the brilliant Chris Guillebeau. Check him out, if you don’t know who that is), are the most important goals in my life right now. I am confident that I, like many before me, will figure this out. But if it could be soon, please, that would be great, because my feet are getting itchy…….