I admire how you simply live your dreams, work from the road and follow your intuition!
I'm always happy to receive nice compliments like this. Especially when I can encourage others or give them thoughts and inspiration. But I need to do some housecleaning here.
I think that too many funny travelogues, photos in jubilant poses in front of white mountain peaks and ravings about freedom and courage lead to my alphabet soup lacking a few important sentences.
Sentences such as: "I can't take it anymore," "I lay on the sofa and cried," "I didn't know what to do," "I didn't have a plan," or "I was scared."
Since I am basically a positive squirrel, I usually try to focus on the positive. To say something good in a world full of bad news, to turn fear into courage, to change mistakes into growth, to transform problems into challenges. In doing so, I sometimes forget that a constant barrage of positive emissions gives the impression that I am permanently floating on a pink cloud of fearlessness, creativity, power, and happiness.
You can do it, live your best life, yolo. Bull. Shit.
Even after six years of self-employment, I frequently worry about suddenly having no clients and no income. I have self-doubt and think no one really reads this dorky blog. I am often afraid something will happen to my friends or family while I'm abroad. It still upsets me to realize that my grandma has been gone for ten years now and will never come back.
So, what about the good and happy life, the positivity and encouragement I constantly try to share? I think it’s time for the groundskeeper to come and lay a ground cloth of truth and fact.
Many people want to appear to be something they are not. Super successful, always strong, beautiful, continually in control, eternally young, totally funny, super spontaneous, or some other shit you're constantly told to be by ads, movies, or dating apps. I don't have any desire to appear as anything special. Especially not to appear as something I’m not.
Yes, I do want to encourage people to get off their rear ends, to live their dreams, to dare to try something new, to think outside the box, to destroy pigeonholes, to tackle something old or new. But at least half the time, I struggle to do those things for myself.
"What if...?" murmurs my Overthinking.
"Do you have enough jobs in the pipeline to pay for the next trip?" asks my inner Finance Minister.
"What if you get sick!" cries the body.
The doorbell rings. "Here's the huge parcel of shite you never ordered," says fate. "Cry me a river!"
Well, these are just some of my own recurring gremlin. And yes, I do cry.
Just because you're currently on a white sandy beach, working seemingly happily from the road, or sharing the picture perfect of your kid, your house, your car, or a killer sunset on social media doesn't mean that is the whole truth. Every proclaimed coach or blogger, no matter how seemingly successful, every super dad or super mom, every business ambassador, and every celebrity has fears, worries, grief, meltdowns, moments of depression, and grandiose failures. How many famous artists were street musicians or lived on welfare before they became famous? How many famous people are totally unhappy, depressed or even take drugs to stand their oh-so-successful-life? How many people will never become famous enough for us to hear their stories of anxiety, unhappiness and failure?
Yes, it's great to be self-employed and a digital nomad, to be able to earn money on the road while traveling, to not have to be in an office or have office hours, and to not have a boss.
But how often have I hoped for a job (money) that didn't happen. How suddenly is a long-term cooperation with a client over, because the staff has changed, the job is now done in-house for cost reasons, or the company has changed its focus—and suddenly $500 or $1000 per month goes missing.
How much time do I invest in tedious customer acquisition, even after years and even after having read lots of advice from so-called experts, while other self-employed people seem to playfully build up an entire network in no time.
Why is this? Am I just a lame duck? Self-doubt here I come!
How often do I urgently need to finish a job, but the Wi-Fi at the Airbnb is slower than a glacier? How many times have I gotten up at 2 a.m. to attend a Zoom conference in Germany while being abroad in a different time zone? How often is the tax office bothering me with new rules and new formsto fill out?
Why did they raise the insurance premiums for self-employed people for
the seventeenth time? Or why did my expensive camera break down now of all times?
I wouldn't swap any that for a white-collar job in the office again, but those
instagrammable flickering auroras over the open tailgate of a van, garnished with the hashtag #digitalnomad on social media seldom reveal the entire
Then there's this long-distance relationship. How romantic! And oh my
gosh, you're in the US for several months. Exciting! True. Both.
But if you've ever had to enter the U.S. frequently or for longer visits, and you’ve been in one of those interrogations at the border, you know that the land of endless possibilities, melting pots, and tales of rags-to-riches can show a totally different face. Did you know that the border officers have the right to take your cell phone and read through all your private messages on WhatsApp, social media or e-mail? Did you know that you can be held for hours in windowless interrogation rooms without being allowed to contact anyone? Did you know that your entire luggage can be ransacked and that officials can simply declare your visa null and void and impose a ten-year entry ban on you without even having to justify it all?
I've been in those situations (without the phone search) three times, I have never had anything to hide, never did anything wrong, and yet each time, every time I visit my boyfriend in the US, I feel a rock in my stomach, have panic attacks, and experience high-grade overthinking just to see and be with the person I love.
Of course, a long-distance relationship also requires a lot of organization and planning, especially when you are chronically ill like me and need constant medication. We need to keep track of who is where and when, who has how many visa days left, who can be at which birthday, who misses Christmas or a wedding. Can I quickly squeeze in another job while at home in Germany, when can I to go to the doctor, do I have time to repair the balcony, or finish and print out some tax forms that cannot be filled online?
I can state even more emphatically than I did with my job: I wouldn't want to trade time with the love of my life for anything in the world—but at the same time: An idyllic couple photo in front of a snowy mountain is less than half the truth.
These were just two examples from my very normal everyday madness.
You can do it, live your best life, yolo?
Definitely not always the case—and that's okay.
Frequently the lives of others seem better, easier, more adventurous, safer, or more fulfilling than your own. It's like the grass on the other side.
But it's usually not greener, it's just different. Different-crazy, different-dramatic, different-nerve-racking—and of course, different-great. It may have facets that may be new to you, and ideas that you would like to try out yourself.
In the end, we are all just humans trying to make the best of our lives. Sometimes we succeed, sometime the entire world is going to hell. But it's never just one or the other—no matter what it seems like on the surface.
Find more food for thoughts and inspiration here: