Why Being Location Independent Sucks
February 29, 2012.
190 W Main St, Somerville, NJ 08854.
After selling all of my material possessions and donating 80% of my closet, I walked down to the leasing office and dropped off the keys to my empty one bedroom apartment. I finally did it.
I was location independent.
I had just parted ways from my corporate job two months ago and I had no idea what I was going to do or where I would do it. I had plans for the next three weeks and a whole lot of uncertainty ahead after that.
A year later, I’ve had more life experiences than many people piece together in a lifetime. I’m extremely fortunate.
I’ve been to 48 of our 50 states. I’ve facilitated workshops, organized meetups, and given speaking engagements all over the country. And I’ve spent a great deal of quality time with my brother David, the highlight being our 12,000 mile road trip doing volunteer work across the United States last summer.
This past week David spent his spring break with me at SXSW in Austin and the other half in Manhattan with dozens of my close friends.
Again, I am so damn blessed.
But as I walked back from dropping David off at Penn Station and I finally had some time alone, that sinking feeling arose. It’s very strong today. It feels a little like a dull ache between my heart and stomach. If I could give it a name I’d call it that “yearning, achy, somewhat empty feeling.”
I miss comfort.
I miss depth.
I miss love.
When you read our blogs and see our Facebook feeds you’re seeing the best of being location independent. We sell you on the beaches of Thailand, the nightlife of Medellin, and working from coffee shops and hotels all over the world. It looks like a non-stop party. Well, because most of the time it is.
But there’s a lot that you don’t see. You don’t see the sleep debt. You don’t see the floors and couches where we sometimes lay our heads at night. And you don’t see the doubts, fears and questions we have.
“Where am I? What day is it? What month is it?”
“Am I getting too old for this shit?”
“Will I ever have a family? Do I even want a family?”
Yes, every story has two sides. What you see from us are the absolute highlights. Peak experience after peak experience.
Well, here are some of the not so sexy realities of being location independent. Here’s why being location independent sucks.
1. Relationships are highly improbable
Last year I had a lot of short term relationships (or just relations). I’m not judging those who do, but I’m getting to the point where it doesn’t serve me anymore.
I’ve had this discussion with several friends who travel full time and it’s one of our common pain points. Some of us just become content being asexual, weighing the benefits of travel over love, sex, and intimacy. Some of us fuck like wild rabbits, with enough crazy sex stories to write a Tucker Max novel. And some of us are in relationships, some of them open and some of them monogamous.
For those of us who are in relationships, it puts a strain on things. My last real relationship imploded because of my lifestyle. When I really thought about though, I’d probably break up with me too. It takes a really special someone to wait patiently at home while our partner is vagabonding all over the world.
I’m not saying being in a relationship is impossible while being location independent, but I just haven’t seen too many good examples yet.
2. You have very little quiet time
I’m an extreme extrovert. I love walking into a room of fifty strangers. Because I know I’m going to walk out with fifty more friends.
But even with that said, I’m getting a little tired.
Essentially every hour of every day is spent with someone in front of me, whether it’s an audience, a dinner party, a meetup, or sitting with my Couchsurfing host sharing stories over breakfast.
I’m always sleeping in a house or apartment with two, three, sometimes five other people. When the first one of us wakes up, we all wake up.
I’m constantly on.
And it’s starting to take a toil on me.
3. You don’t have a place to host
I bought my first house when I was 24. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two floors and one big Asian. After a couple of weeks of living alone I told my best three guy friends to move in with me. For free.
It was a blast while it lasted.
Later in Ohio and New Jersey I became an expert at bringing people together. I’d have friends over for football weekends, I’d throw parties for my entire grad school program, and I’d regularly host friends or travelers from Couchsurfing.
Hell, I had a 61 year old woman from Couchsurfing sleeping on my couch for a month.
Now I can’t do that. I’m always the one being hosted.
I know about the importance of graciously accepting gifts, but a piece of me feels like I’m receiving more than I’m giving at times. Which is a totally new and slightly awkward place to be for me.
I know I’ll have a place again in the near future and when I do…
You’re all invited.
4. Habit building is difficult
I just had breakfast this morning with my friends Sean and Dan and we talked a lot about the importance of habit building. I know I’ve certainly been dissatisfied with myself in regards to willpower lately.
I work out… sometimes.
I journal… sometimes.
And I even have a great yoga and meditation practice… sometimes.
Some of us have great morning rituals. I do. Here it is:
1. No Internet until morning rituals are done
3. Write in my dream journal if applicable
4. Drink a glass of water
5. 7 minutes of yoga/stretching
6. Brush teeth, use tongue scraper
7. Take a 60 second cold shower
8. Journal for 20 minutes
9. Complete one round of The Work on a thought that doesn’t serve me
10. Complete my one most important task of the day
11. Prepare and eat breakfast
But when I’m going to bed at 4am after a night out with my friends, there’s a pretty small chance that I’m going to get up at 7am and do my full morning ritual.
And without the Power of Habit, comes procrastination and laziness. And with procrastination and laziness comes that nagging feeling that we aren’t playing to our full potential.
5. There’s always bigger and better
Travel is like crack.
Three years ago I would have never dreamt that I would have seen the places I’ve seen. But now that I have and I know how easy it is to travel, I want it all.
Northern Lights? I wanna see ’em.
Machu Pichu? Sign me up.
Thailand? Let’s do it.
With technology and a little know how, the world truly is our playground. But where do we stop? Do we ever stop? And how much is enough?
Tomorrow I leave for Berlin, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Bosch, and Oslo. Part of me doesn’t want to go. I know, first fucking world problems.
I could lie to you and tell you that everything is great. But I’m here speaking the truth. Cause that’s what I do.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give up the last year of my life for a million dollars. Seriously. It’s been so incredibly rich with Love, Laughs, Light, and Life. All the Big Ls in full effect.
But that’s only half of the story.
This is the other half.