I have been reflecting a lot on my "settled" life lately. Next Monday marks one full year that I have been back in the United States and exactly 6 months at my full-time job living in a new location.
There was a time last year when I was decidedly happy with my constant "deviation" as a traveler. Since returning to the States, I have found similar happiness in a full-time job, my own place to live, and the acquiring of "things" again. In short, my life no longer fits in my backpack and it's starting to resemble much of what I originally deviated from when I hopped on a plane to Iceland in 2014.
So, am I still "deviating the norm?" Or have I fallen back in line with the sheep? Have I sold my soul for conformity and given up on the nomadic lifestyle? I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. And I found my answer buried in an interview I did over a year ago with Israeli magazine, Masa Acher.
My Interview With Masa Acher
In 2015, a popular Israeli travel magazine called Masa Acher (meaning, "A Different Journey") contacted me to see if I was interested in answering a few questions. Ronny, the writer of the piece, was reaching out to interview various "digital nomads" or people who travel the world non-stop and maintain their nomadic lifestyle by taking advantage of digital resources and incomes.
All of them have made travel relatively sustainable for several years now. They earn an income through their blogs and other digital ventures. And yet, even these successful nomads seem to struggle, on and off, with the idea of slowing down or stopping their lifestyle at least temporarily.
All continuous travelers seem to inevitably face the travel versus settle-down question. Even post-travel, I have been questioning if I am "still deviating" as I settle deeper into my new job and home.
Enter my interview with Ronny. Browsing through my old blog posts and other documents from my travels, I came across our full exchange. What I wrote to her last year is incredibly relevant to me now as I question my present state.
I thought maybe it would be useful for others to read the full interview. If you're a full-time traveler, travel blogger, or considering the nomadic travel lifestyle, perhaps you will get something useful out of it.
Only parts of the interview were published in the final piece in Masa Acher (and they were published in Hebrew). So I've decided to share the whole thing on my blog with permission from Ronny. I'll be posting it tomorrow (read here).
What I've Learned About "Deviating"
Toward the end of the interview, Ronny asked me what my future plans are—if I plan to keep traveling or settle down. Here is part of my answer:
In reflecting on this, I feel very satisfied with where I am at today. I have managed to pursue my own goals of finding full-time work in a position I really care about. I am living alone for the first time ever, something I have never been financially stable enough to do. The best part? "Bouts of travel" continue to be in my life in nuanced ways.
I even have some trips in mind for international travel in the future. This includes a trip back to New Zealand to spend some extended time with my kiwi partner, Jono (yay!!!). And we will hopefully get to explore a bit more of the South Pacific (double yay!!!).
While Ronny's article in Masa Acher is specifically about being a "digital nomad," I could see that digital nomadicism was never my initial goal or intention in traveling the world. It's clear that my intention was never to rule out the settled lifestyle either. For instance, I wrote to her:
My purpose was always to lead by my gut—allow my own desires to take me on an unknown, unmapped journey. And that has not changed for me.
Deviation Is Doing Me In-The-Moment
Long-term travel, specifically traveling without a set plan, helped me become comfortable and confident in my own in-the-moment decisions. And I could extend that mindset to every aspect of my life including my location, my work, my relationships, my everything!
When considering all of this, I know that I am still doing exactly what I want to do. That is, I am doing exactly what I set out to do at the start of my 15-months of travel: Deviate to my own beat and nobody else's.
So it's okay that my life doesn't fit inside my backpack at this moment. It doesn't have to. But that doesn't mean it won't again in the future.
In the end, I've been able to answer my question: I am deviating the norm. Because I'm doing me and I'm doing right now.