Trading security for life on the road

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Two years. Besides where I grew up, that’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. Compared to most people in London, the city I’ve been calling my home away from home, it isn’t a really long time - not long enough to call yourself a Londoner at the least. But like most people in the city when I first arrived, I believed London to be my future.

I used to live a life most people wouldn’t consider all too spectacular. I studied for four years, graduated with an MA in fashion business and, something most people don’t know, I also got a bachelor diploma in hotel and tourism management, the starting point of traveling and temporarily living in different places.
After I finished my degree, having changed career paths mid-way, my only goal was to find a stable full-time job for the next few years, until I’d decide what I was going to do with my life. I always knew I wanted to run my own business one day - I had many plans, always came up with new business ideas, and at first, I was beyond inspired. London was beyond inspiring. I did find that respectable full time job to keep me afloat and help me get my foot in the door. It was a safe option, comfortable, and for a while, I tried to fit in. But the thought of working that nine-to-six until I was sixty-five (with usually only a few weeks off a year, and little time for my personal projects to progress) just to make it through the month seemed insane. Was I ready to start what most people consider the ‘real’ life? Did I really feel like building a career and earning money so that I could buy a house, get married and save money for the day I would retire? No.

8 months into my first full-time job, with none but two days of holidays taken over the summer, I quit. While I liked what I was doing, my heart wasn’t completely in it. I wasn’t happy - Somehow, my life felt rather meaningless. I didn’t like being stuck in a routine in which I had to work from Monday to Friday, nine hours, sometimes ten each day in a cubicle staring at a computer screen. On Mondays, I was already looking forward to the weekend - to work on my side projects. But when the weekend came, I often felt too exhausted to do anything, let alone leave the house. I kept running out of money before the end of the month and that for sure wasn’t the life I’d imagined. Something was missing. And I started feeling trapped in London. Depressed. Alone - In a city of 8 million. I wanted to be a free spirit in a life that seemed but a series of unanswered emails, bill payments and self-doubt. It’s not an art to read between the lines that I was suffering from depression. My first full time job, and I was already burning out.

The thought of a home cemented to the earth has always made me shiver. I felt more like constantly living on the edge than settling down. Whatever it was, there has always been this desire to have a constantly changing horizon within me. To discover more and more new versions of myself. I realised how little I actually needed day by day, and, frustrated under my blanket of indecision, I decided it was time for me to hit the road. I came up with the idea of traveling for a longer period of time, to jump straight into the digital nomad life. I’m 23 years old, and there’s so much out there that’s incredible to see, so why would I confine myself to one town or one country for the rest of my life? Imagine what it feels like to be able to go anywhere you choose, anytime. Isn’t this something that you should at least experience? 

I realised that each person has the power to decide on their own version of a normal life, and maybe that was going to be mine for the foreseeable future. I’m well aware the nomadic lifestyle I am aiming for isn’t for everyone. That there are sacrifices to make. There will be struggles, there will be obstacles along the way without a doubt. Maybe the trade offs for beach side living and new cultures will be worth it for me. Maybe they won’t, and I’ll be back in a few months from now. But I will never know until I try. I chose to lead this lifestyle, I chose to be homeless and live out of a suitcase and hence, I will have to live with the responsibilities and repercussions of this lifestyle. I don’t know where life is going to take me. I’m having my first vacation in over a year coming up, and I couldn’t be any more excited. As if I had never been anywhere else before. As if I had never seen anything else but London. At the same time, this is going to be a goodbye to London. For now. I hate the word goodbye. But I am about to leave another country and get another stamp in my passport.

Travel, LifeCharline Catteeuw