We all wonder, some a bit more than others, but we all do.
For me, the search for the unknown, the thrill of travelling, adventures and all the things I experience along the way makes my life special. There is so much to see, so much to discover and I keep feeling the fear of missing out if I settle down right now.
And If I settle down, where and when would that be? So far, coming back after a long trip, makes me feel weird, empty and misfitted in general. Maybe time will tell, maybe not.
From when I was younger, I always felt the need to express, explore and try out new things. When I grew up, it mostly was in an expressive way, drawing and painting. Even during my highschool I was really creative and always sketching in a little corner. But, after my high schools (yeah I had many, but that’s another story), I discovered photography and travelling. I also was really independent. Now I think about it, I maybe was a bit too independent and mature for my age. I remember my first trip alone, I was 16, I think, and I booked really impulsive, without any confirmation or talk with my mom my ticket. I booked a city trip to Kohln, Germany for a weekend. I searched up information online and I even went to the library. (talking about 10 years ago haha) I worked by then btw and managed my own money, something I wanted to do from when I was pretty young, in case you’re thinking how does she book it randomly without permission:) Since then, I was hooked on travelling.
I started freelancing for myself when I was 21, in this case, I had more freedom and I worked as a bookkeeper for a company, also with a lot of freedom. Perfect to combine travel and work. But, I ended up working too much and getting a burnout, that’s again another big story (let me know if you guys wanna hear about that). So, I had to take time off. I was sick for almost a year. It took a lot of time to recover and I knew what I wanted to do when I felt better: Backpacking alone for as long as possible to see the world.
My first long solo trip
My trip was awesome. It is now 3 years ago and I had to take it slow (still recovering from my burnout by then), but in the end, I really challenged myself.
I made myself a deal, I had to push myself to do things out of my comfort zone:
* I did a 200 hours yoga teacher training, Nepal.
* Hiked in the Himalayas, Nepal.
* Saw sharks by snorkelling in Borneo, Malaysia
* Did a jungle hike and saw a lot of animals in Borneo, Malaysia.
* Travelling in India, alone. Something that really scared me in the beginning.
Of course, not everything can go well. I’ve seen 3 different kinds of hospitals
I had a big burnt wound, I struggled with altitude sickness, had problems with rain floods, mosquito allergies, bruised my ankle with as result that I couldn’t do long walks and ended up in a political problem in India, where there was a problem with cash (November 2016).
But, I lived my own adventure, my way and I felt good, something I didn’t really felt in a long time.
Suddenly coming home
Well, life goes different. After 9 months of travelling, I had to go back because my stepdad was ill. I arrived back ‘home’ in the Netherlands. Figuring out what to do. This feeling was so empty, so weird, but glad to see family again. I had so many questions to myself.
Do I start freelancing again? Do I start working for the company again? Shall I start another study?
I was clueless. A fact was, I didn’t want to stay in the Netherlands.
I wanted to stay around my family with everything going on, but I realised that that wasn’t gonna work. I felt like an outsider in my own country, had no clue how to deal with the situation with my stepdad being sick and struggled with myself because was I gonna stay in the Netherlands for real? My answer was simple. No. I booked a single ticket to Tenerife, slept in a tent close to a hostel, gave yoga lessons and focused on me. Being social and meeting people. Around 2 months after that, I wanted to go back. I felt that something was off. My mom called and I heard in her voice that it wasn’t good. I’m pretty sensitive and I feel confident enough to say that my intuition is on point. I booked my ticket back to the Netherlands, without any doubt.
That stupid phone call
A couple of weeks later I got that stupid call. My stepdad died. My mind wasn’t working properly. It was all a blur, unfair and I think I blamed myself a bit for missing out on him in the last year. The months after were a blur as well. I decided to stay in the Netherlands. Working. I started doing the most simple job I could think of under my level. But after 2 months I got a promotion, instead of a barista, I became the assistant manager of a restaurant in a hotel. It was a nice job, learned a lot for sure and had awesome people around. But the worktimes were pretty insane and I made easily 70 hours a week. And knowing that I had a history with a burnout, not the best move. I felt that I had to stop, otherwise I probably got burnout2.0.
It took me 9 months, but then I quit my job.
Starting my nomad life
Last year, I found my focus back and I decided to start for myself again, combining the two things I love the most, working and creating (photographing, writing, social posts) and travelling. Instead of working and saving, I wanted to build something remote. I didn’t overthink, I just booked a one-way ticket to Asia.
This journey, still going on, gives me such another dimension of life.
Not comparable with anything I’ve experienced in my life in the Netherlands. I’m really excited about my work. I love it. I started doing more shoots, had blog jobs and even helped out companies with social media and content creation.
Also about the nomad lifestyle, I’m positive. The freedom obviously, the high quality of life, sometimes having my own pool in my room, travel around in my free time, spend my afternoons on the beach, surfing, meetups with people from everywhere, some with incredible companies they build from nothing. All their own story and some of them I can call friends for life.
But I also experienced the other side.
Being alone can really suck, also falling in love at someone who lives at the other side of the world can be complicated and the goodbyes are hard. Friends with whom you’re really close disappear like they were never there. Only the memory stays. Of course, you still can keep in touch, but it’s always different when someone is going back to the other side of the world. Money can also be a little pain in the ass. Depending on what you’re going for, making money, saving up as much money or break even, truth is, you need money. Especially if you travel over the world. Last but not least, missing friends and family. Isn’t always easy. You can miss big things, weddings, funerals, babies, sickness, health problems, promotions, birthdays and so on. I know you always can make the choice to go back home, but trust me on this one, life isn’t predictable. You can be in the middle of a really important job, being stuck on an aeroplane or whatever you think of. You can be there anytime, on the phone, by mail, but not always in person and that can be really hard.
Coming home (again) and even more frustrations
After 8 months I decided to come back home from my first trip as a nomad. My grandfather died and there were more illness situations in my family so I felt it was my time. (For now) But, it was weird. It felt weirder then my first time coming back a couple of years ago. I loved seeing my friends obviously, but I’ve changed. I’ve changed a lot. I mean who didn’t obviously. Seeing the world, experiencing life, meeting amazing people, tried new things, saw amazing places and most of I grew so hard and learnt so much. (personally and workwise)
But, that feeling from coming back, is weird. It somehow feels I’m coming back exactly to the place where I started. For me, coming back home feels like a blur, a mess. Also a reminder of my stepdad period a couple of years ago. Where it starts as a little rollercoaster in the first weeks a little routine with seeing friends, reunions and family. When I see them, my feelings are okay. When I’m alone, my emotions are intense. I feel frustrated, can be a bit angry and sometimes really sad. My emotions are all over the place or I don’t feel a freaking thing. Like everything I do is just the way it is. No feeling, no highlight, no lowlights. It’s just there.
I stayed for 3 weeks until I left the Netherlands again. I was planning on staying the whole summer, but I failed haha. In the last months, I’ve seen more countries in Europe than during my nomad trip. I came back eventually. With the same empty feeling.
I wondered myself, why would that be? When I started thinking about it, realised why.
Think about it, when you travel you live on the highs and lows of life I mean, I live, I feel a lot, I feel excitement by trying out new stuff and I’m probably the happiest person you’ve ever seen. I have my moments of course, but all of those moments are real, at the moment and intense.
When I travel I feel the most alive.
I experience new things like a little kid. With open eyes, a happy smile, even my clumsy behaviours suit the actions of a little kid. Walking on the beach, seeing a waterfall, a sunset, a new culture, trying out all those new foods and meeting all those amazing people. I’m alive, at the moment, and my emotions are extremely high.
But there is a downside, the other side of the travel life, that is also really intense.
Not on the high, but on the low. The problems (which you’re obviously going to have), miscommunications, the exhausting moments, my multiple hospital moments over the last year, hangry moments and most of all the goodbyes you have to do. They are heartbreaking, in my case. And no, I’m not really exaggerating. I don’t allow people to come close easily, but if do, I like them, a lot. So, saying goodbye to people who are close to me hurts, it freaking hurts.
Shortly said, I live in extremes feelings. Which makes coming home a bit blank.
Al these things I wrote down, from quitting my jobs, mainly because of my burnout, twice (losing all my financial security), my burnout (losing control over my health) and my personal stuff, one of them being losing my stepdad (no control over life in general). Made me realise so many things, made me grow as a person and gave me so many life lessons. But it also made me cry in corners and whatever you can think of, it was painful. Looking back I still have a lot to process, like everyone I guess.
The perfect Instagram nomad life?
Life isn’t a fairytale. How pretty mine can look with all my travels ( I get a lot of people saying that I live the ‘perfect’ life in my DM’s), but it’s the real deal I’m living.
I’m out of my comfort, trust on my intuition and experience life as it gets. With all the highs and the lows. But, how awful they can be, they make us feel alive and it can be pretty amazing.
Thing is as I said before, I’ve changed over the years. Not only as a person, but I think differently and I somehow feel a bit stuck in my head and don’t know how to communicate that. I also think even if I try to explain how I feel, that it’s hard to truly understand. It’s just me. Especially that last part, makes me feel lost. Sometimes even frustrated. That endless feeling of not fitting in. I don’t wanna sound to negative, because apart from that I feel pretty good. Probably I just have to give myself more time to adapt or just let it be. Accept that I’m still wandering a bit and that it’s not that bad.
Having this said, I already booked my next ticket out of the Netherlands! Back to the tropical weather! Not sure for how long, not sure where exactly, but I’m sure it will all work out 🙂