It starts to seep through the search results: The unhappy nomad. Digital nomads that find that ‘the lifestyle’ does not live up to their expectations. When I read a post and reply on Reddit, I learn that that unhappy nomad makes enough money, yet not enough to travel or to return home.
In other articles, I learn that the constant traveling is wearing nomads out, the constant job seeking, the uncertainty of not knowing if your income is steady enough. Most unhappiness seems to come from a sense of being trapped. A feeling of not being able to move forward as hoped for, or as learned from the internet while preparing.
When you do research on digital nomadism you kind of end up in the land of make-believe, the land of a bunch of people that present the digital nomad lifestyle as a happy ever on the beach, constant traveling way of vagabondish living. Unfortunately, they seldom share the constant search for jobs and income, the working long hours to be able to buy the next plane ticket, and the nothingness that is left when they are not successful.
The post I read on Reddit lingers in my mind, not earning enough money to go back home and live a decent life back home. What is a decent life, I wonder? Has this person not figured out beforehand what he needed to live happily? If you fail to make a list of life improvements you want to gain from choosing a digital nomad lifestyle you might end up feeling trapped.
Not being able to return home, is returning ever an option when you start a nomad lifestyle?
I knew I started this lifestyle out of necessity. I was losing my home ‘back home’ and would have been ‘home-free’ anyway. So why not combine that and travel the world instead of roaming around homeless in the streets of my home country where it gets cold in winter and wet in autumn?
I can never return home, for my income is not enough to live there, same as the writer of the Reddit post. My income is not enough for a luxury lifestyle. I make way less money than I hoped for.
Am I an unhappy nomad? Not realizing my dreams?
Sometimes I feel unhappy. I still work for my money, I would have hoped that by now my income would be passive enough and sufficient to not even work 4-6 hours a day. Yet, I am still struggling to make ends meet and I live a very modest life. Somehow I am not successful. My fan-base is not as large as I wish for, the ‘goodwill factor’ among my readers is so low that the donate button to thank me for free information is seldom used.
People want information for free. People want to be entertained by drone views and funny Vlogs of skydiving high adrenaline-seeking young people, and not by a 59-year-old woman that seems to look troubled most of the time, for that is my face, even when I look happy. I always seem to carry a burden, and although I do not, that is how I look. And let’s be honest, I am not the prettiest gal on earth’.
When I focus on all of the above and believe me the feelings with these facts run much deeper than you can read even between the lines, I am most certainly an unhappy nomad.
I dream, like you do, about success, and yet I fear it also, and I have no clue why
I have no clue why, but somehow I feel like I boycott my projects and occasionally unpaved my road to success which is paved for me by all the good that happens in my life. I am a “half-empty glass”-kind of person. Yet I do know I drank the other half and I loved it.
I grew up feeling small and I wonder if I will ever outgrow that feeling. I was belittled at home, in school, and being raised like you do everything wrong, that probably seeps through the makings I throw at my fans on the internet. I need to free myself from that negativity my childhood put in my mind and live up to whom I am: A strong woman that travels the world and was mighty successful in her work and doings before she lost her job and was left out by society.
Nobody wants to hear the story of failure. We all seek solutions to eternal happiness
The internet is about creating a happy story
The internet is about creating a happy story, a happy life, and some are damn good at it. And we tend to focus on that, we tend to measure ourselves by what we think we see, what other people present to us, and how we interpret that within our references. Well, I know some days I do. I see someone crowdfunding something and he gets 1000 euro in a week, and when I crowdfund, I get 3,50 a week. It is only human to have a feeling about that. Isn’t it?
Yet if we turn away from other people’s stories and look at ourselves without measuring our lives against other people, and create our own standards, will that not make us happier, more grateful?
I struggle with these emotions, just as the few searching the internet very carefully to not blemish themselves with the negative attention of being an unhappy nomad. For nobody in the digital nomad-scene wants to know that you are unhappy, that you do not live the dreamlife, for it might rub off. And we all set off on a road to success, for that is what we were told by ‘the others’.
Your road to success is never my road to success and what you need to be happy is not what I need
As a nomad you are supposed to be successful and happy, for that is the vibe the tribe sends into the world. But I would love for that to change, I would love for the tribe to be more honest and to be more authentic. That would stop a lot of people from joining and getting into trouble.
I have met nomads that were at their energy end, due to the endless travel, the endless money hunt, and the endless sleepless nights in cheap hostels eating only street food and cheap cup noodles and living on pennies. They could not find online jobs and sold bracelets and even their equipment to get out of a city on to the next stage of their trip in search of new opportunities, and maybe success and happiness.
It is okay to admit that this lifestyle of travel and work, is exactly what it is: a lifestyle
If only we could stop glorifying this Digital Nomad lifestyle, and present it exactly as it is: A lifestyle, nothing more and nothing less. I am active on Quora and I see so many nomads telling only the upside of this life and ignoring the reality check people need to do on a regular basis. Each lifestyle comes with ups and downs. That is only natural. Nobody in this world has 365 happy days in a year and nobody in his or her life is always 100% successful. Everybody knows setbacks.
And this lifestyle fits you or does not fit you. Just like being a minimalist or a vegan or you name it what kind of lifestyle.
And people like me, well I for me, I know that I need to shape up and be grateful for what I have and turn my thoughts towards my inner self instead of towards to outside world of fake promises and make-believe and find the resources within myself over and over again. The resources to create more, to solve problems, and the ability to turn around my thinking. For only then will I be happy.
And that happiness and feeling good about oneself will show off in videos and through articles, through all of your work.
It is a failure if you stay in an unhappy mood, for no one ever pursued unhappiness
And for others? Maybe stay a little longer in one place than you had planned. Maybe slow down, travel less, linger a bit longer in paradise, stay put for a while. You are in no rush! And if you travel in a tribe that moves around fast, find another tribe, detach, go solo for a while. I know I prefer to be solo. It has its advantages!
And when going home is not an option yet, keep in mind that when it has become an option, it is certainly not a failure. You did not give up. You did not fail.
What is failure?
Failure is to live the life of an unhappy person. Once you are in that unhappy place, you are doing something wrong! Big time! Not necessarily in your work but certainly in your mind.
Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.
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