If you’re already a remote worker, you probably know where I’m heading with this. Indeed, anyone who decides to leave his own town has to suffer some sort of retaliation, as if undergoing an aptitude test. Leaving your security blanket to embark on a worldwide journey is as exciting as scary.
With digital nomadism on the rise, many young people fresh out of school are considering backpacking instead of starting a 9-5 job or applying for university. They gather information on all sorts of jobs you can do on the road and work hard to learn new, profitable skills. Yet, these youngsters are met with a swarm of criticism as soon as they take the brave decision of taking off – while all they need is probably a word of encouragement.
What do we mean with Generational Problem?
Some wrongly assume that a generational problem is correlated to age – but that’s not necessarily true. I’ve met hundreds of the so-called Generation X sharing my same values and mentality over globetrotting. I’ve received supporting words from grandpas and grandmas, as well as disapproval from people of my own age. And while it is a more frequent thing among millenials, there’s people of all ages and backgrounds traveling and living as DNs.
A generational gap mainly refers to different mindsets. Indeed, people born in the same historical period, easily share the same views. But a woman of the ‘40s may consider a 9-5 job a ridiculous imposition just as well, and approve of a life full of experiences that stretch beyond a desk and four walls.
Why is there a generational gap?
A shift in values and habits is only a natural process for a constantly progressing society. Your worries and needs (though maybe not your hopes) are much different than the ones of a struggling farm boy in feudal times. In the past 20 years, a lot has changed, with positive and negative outcomes. Consumption became overconsumption, stimulation, overstimulation; traveling got easy and affordable, and precious learning tools are now available for free all around the world thanks to the web. Consumerism and trends made us look around and notice how it all feels too superficial for a life that is unfortunately short. Capitalism has had us believe the latest veggie blender could fill the void in our hearts; yet the adrenaline of an impulsive purchase quickly fades away, while the void remains.
Having a stable and secure job, buying a house, building a family and saving money for the generation to come were considered the only viable stepping stones in life. Over time, the job market became both less stable and more diverse. The same concept could be applied to university: the range of faculties exponentially increased, but obtaining a degree meant less and less securing a definitive job upon graduation.
With all the sociocultural and economic transformations that occurred in the last decades, it’s no surprise that priorities have also changed. That doesn’t mean that all the values and goals people had 40 years ago disappeared; but the ways to acquire such things have drastically mutated. This is not to say that there is a right or wrong way to live, of course! But a different type of awareness has been spreading lately, one that makes people focus on feeling and experiencing with their whole heart whilst sacrificing other comforts or routes.
Digital Nomadism who?
Remote work is still a mystery for people and a new trend for others. My dad had a hard time understanding what a digital nomad is or does, and I don’t blame him for that (to these days, I believe he did not get my lengthy explanation, no matter how much he nodded). But while he did not so much frown upon my departure, my grandparents were of course extremely skeptical and worried. Digital nomadism is indeed an unconventional lifestyle for many, and a somehow hard one as well. But if you’re set on changing your life, if you really think this could turn your grey days into a rainbow and you crave for fulfilling adventures, don’t let people around you discourage you (here’s how to become a digital nomad). It’s understandable if your loved ones are heartbroken and worries for your decision, their words probably come from love – and they’ll understand if this is what might make you happy. But many other people argue on the topic taking a defensive stand without even trying to understand.
Here’s some of the arguments you’ll probably have to endure.
There’s dangerous people in the world!
If all you do is watching the news 24/7, you’ll end up believing that in 2 days you’ll be found dead in a ditch on the other side of the planet. Of course, some countries are indeed unsafe – with civil wars all over the territory or crime statistics through the roof. And of course, you could be a bit naive and put yourself in a risky situation. But we’d like to believe you’re conscious enough not to guzzle an entire bottle of alcohol and wander around an unfamiliar city by yourself. Having said that, bad things can happen anywhere, at any time. According to statistics, the majority of deadly accidents happen inside your own house. Feeling like going for a walk yet?
Truly, I’m not trying to scare you about the idea of staying home! But the motto “the danger is all around you and will certainly hit you if you move away” really sounds too paranoid. I was in that mindset for a week only after watching Final Destination. What you don’t hear is that you’ll meet tons of extraordinary people, dive into amazing cultures, find kindness in unexpected places. If you’re a careful traveler, chances are, everything will go just fine. Just keep an eye out for scammers and thieves, and avoid situations that feel shady – always trust your guts!
How will you even afford to eat!
This silly argument stems from the misconception that a DN doesn’t work and devotes his life to sipping coconut milk on a beach. Nothing could be wronger – a digital nomad is, in fact, a worker. Some believe that a nomadic lifestyle is extremely expensive, but that’s not necessarily true. Sharing an apartment, a room or couchsurfing, cut down your living costs a lot. Normally, DNs focus on experiences rather than materialistic possessions, which means we don’t spend on unnecessary things. Many of the digital nomads’ preferred destinations have low costs of living anyway, so what you spend will be far less than what you earn.
You’ll see noses curling and mouths grinning at the thought of sharing a room with strangers. I might have been skeptical too at first. But it’s really not a big deal, and it’s actually a great way to make friends on a probably lonely journey. Of course, it won’t always be comfortable or intimate, but it’s a small price to pay for a life full of emotions and human connections.
What will you do after that?
This argument is my least favorite one. Somehow, people believe that if you wander around the world, you don’t take your life seriously, and that you’ll regret it later on. They talk about it as if it was a teenage phase that will naturally pass. Hence, they expect you to have a plan for your future, one that involves one city, one house, one commute to work. Thing is,there’s not one single path to follow in life. If anything, traveling is extremely beneficial for personal development. It teaches you compassion, understanding, kindness; it fosters your courage and challenges your beliefs; it improves your spirit of adaptation. Living an unconventional life helps you understand more quickly on what terms you want to set your existence.
It’s not true that you can’t build a family on the road. It’s not true that you can’t find peace in moving around the world, or that you can’t make money. Nomadism does not delay your plans; it’s not an extracurricular activity you do in-between important milestones. Digital nomadism is an actual lifestyle, just as legitimate as the conventional one. And like any other lifestyle, it demands sacrifices as well as provides benefits. So pack your things and prove them all wrong, we’re already doing it!