I became a digital nomad by accident.
Back in December of 2013, I needed a break from New York City (and my life in NYC). I decided to jump ship and take my already remote gig, really remote. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been traveling and working on the road on and off for years despite having double-digit countries stamped in my passport, I always came back to America.
So in December, after moaning over Skype to a fairly distant friend about how much I needed a change, she convinced me come to Vietnam (it was a toss-up between Vietnam, Hong Kong and Germany). Honestly I didn’t know crap about Vietnam outside of the War, but I was game. Especially when I discovered it was warm, meanwhile while NYC was blanketed by snow. I decided to leave. I packed up my crap, threw it in storage, got my Visas and bounced in 30 days.
MY NYC COMPETITIVE AMERICAN CAPITALISM CULTURE, PERSONALITY WAS KICKING IN. HARD.
Fast-forward to four months and five countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Hong Kong. One life-changing Reiki session later, I found myself torn between staying in South East Asia and heading into a new interior design career. As fate would have it, when in Hong Kong looking at design schools, I received an offer to study in Philadelphia—an offer, not a scholarship. So I left Asia to start school in June and moved from NYC to Philly. Silly me. I didn’t realize that spending all my cash freely on the road for five months coupled with moving all my crap out of storage from NYC to Philly—plus, you know, getting a new Philly apartment basically drained me financially.
Dude, I get paid once a month! Liquid cash only goes so far. When that cash deposit was needed for school, I was strapped. STRAAAPED! “Okay,” I said to myself, “I can start in September and pay per class,” —which was under $2K each. Sounds reasonable, doable. But in the meantime, a funny thing happened last summer. I felt stressed and all of sudden I had a to-do list out the ass and a panicky sense of not being/doing enough. My NYC-competitive-American-capitalism-culture personality was kicking in hard. I was not content to sit by for three months and do nothing.
Nothing? Naw, son! I was a go-getter. So what did my Type A personality self do? Jump up and get an interior designer internship, that’s what!
I quit in 18 hours.
After moving around candles and pillows non-stop for hours and freezing in my boring ass apartment, I realized I did not and I mean, DID NOT, want to study interior design. What did I want!? I knew that: 1. I didn’t want to be bothered with the crazy to-do list and the economic pressures of America. 2. I didn’t want to move pillows around. 3. I didn’t want to live in NYC and go back into the fashion and entertainment world. 4. I didn’t want to deal with the Philly neighbor who went up to the roof of my building at night in his underwear playing with glow sticks (I can’t make this stuff up).
So I looked around at all the crap I had just paid several thousands of dollars to move and said, “Screw it! I’m going back on the road.” This time it took me six weeks to sell all my stuff.
Craigslist was my new BFF and I was his pimp. I sold everything. My microwave went for five dollars and my custom-made Herman Miller chair that was originally $1000 and less than a year old went for $250. Oh, and all of my designer goodies? All sold to second hand stores.
Please understand in less than 2 months, I moved over 100 pairs of shoes, high-end electronics and more.
When the dust finally settled I had sold everything, except for three boxes of memorabilia. Not big boxes, either. These were the boxes they hand you when you’re fired and have 30 minutes to clear out your crap. It cost me $100 to send them to hang out in my grandmother’s garage in South Georgia. I gave my landlord a sob story in order to break my lease and spent several weeks getting my digital nomad on in America traveling up and down the east coast and Canada visiting friends and family.
Since September, I’ve made my way back to Asia and I keep going. I’ve lived in Florida, Philly, Hanoi (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand); all while pulling in a 35-hour work week. In the past 13 months, I’ve been to two continents, seven countries and over 10 cities.
I’m in Paris in May and I’m not sure what’s next. I just know that right now, working and drifting on the road agrees with me.