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I'm Trying the Digital Nomad Lifestyle. Here's What It's Doing to My Mental Health.

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I did it. I let go of my apartment and all the associated bills and secured a digital nomadic lifestyle. I’m currently waiting for a French visa so I can start my travels where Carrie decided to take Big back for good (which I’m still mad about). Until then, I’m at my parents’ or my friends’ homes with my little dog living my best life, or I’m supposed to be.

OK, confession? I’m not living my best life at all. In fact, this whole process has only hurt my mental health instead of helping it.

If you aren’t familiar with the digital nomad lifestyle, it’s a lifestyle where you work remotely and you travel wherever you want, and have temporary living situations versus permanent ones. It’s currently all the rave, with people choosing to work internationally in ways they once couldn’t. The idea is glamorous – waking up on different continents and enjoying different cultures, all while working a job that sustains that lifestyle. Our world is so big and our town is so small, so why stay when you can explore? 

This was my idea when I decided to go live in France for a few months. The only problem is that it was delayed due to some personal situations, so now there’s a gap of time where I’m a digital nomad, only I’m just traveling to different places in central and west Florida.

That idea of having no roots after being stressed out by the ones that I had was enough to entice me into trying this. Granted, it’ll probably be better once I set foot in Paris, but for now, I’m a little miserable.

I grew up chronically lonely and constantly questioning the concept of “home.” In fact, I still am in a lot of ways. Right before the pandemic hit, I secured my first solo apartment. This place would become my sanctuary and home throughout the hardest years, losses, and transitions of my life to date. No matter what changed, my bed was a constant safe place that could protect me from the horrors of the world or my own life. Letting go of that was hard, but now I’m struggling in ways I didn’t expect.

I never knew how much of a rooted person I was until trying this out, and now I’m just uneasy and triggered non-stop. I’m learning that if you’re an extrovert who thrives when surrounded by loved ones, maybe being on your own somewhere across the world isn’t exactly the best idea. When people suggest this lifestyle, they’re usually raving about it, but they don’t speak to the downsides and how isolating it all can be, especially when you already struggle with your mental health. While I know I’m not alone, and I’m ultimately going to create more relationships with people all over the world, I’m still feeling very put off by the fact that I’ll be separated by the people who have held it down for me through my toughest periods. All of my mental health safety plans include family and friends, so what do you do when you’re at some French café ordering a little latté and you have a breakdown but your safety net is thousands of miles and an ocean away?

I’m not giving up. I’m gonna see how this plays out when I get to France, and I’m hoping that at the end of the day it’s a lot better than what it’s been. Overall though I do now know that stability, especially when it comes to living situations, is my number one priority when it comes to my mental wellness kit. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and all that.

Getty image by martin-dm

Originally published: July 21, 2022
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