It’s exactly 12.30pm and I’m writing this sitting on my bed eating avo on sourdough and trying not to get my sticky olive oil fingers all over this keyboard. That’s the when, where, what – but also, I’m at another pivot point in my life. And well, if I don’t write things out I seriously do not know what to do with myself.
I vomited again last night from food poising – or something! – and this time vomited up blood too, urgh nasty! It’s just gastritis and has passed, I’m feeling slightly more human again today, but my resilience is below par zero after all of the bouts of food poisoning I’ve faced here, along with new experiences almost daily, and challenges of becoming self-employed on no savings ETC!
I’m really feeling so confused. What do I want? I don’t even know! I thought I knew, so tried out a few things a few times, but turned out I didn’t want those things at all. Or they were totally different to what I thought they would be like. Or they entail a crazy amount of sacrifices. In any case, I’m re thinking again about what it is I want now. This is a process I’m assuming I’m going to go through many times in this lifetime. So, I’m getting okay again with the not-knowing again.
As a society we are addicted to certainty. Uncertainty it’s unnerving and scary and confusing. I’m far more comfortable with some types of uncertainty now after having gone through this process (e.g. where my next job/client/money is going to come from and when), but others not so much, like being uncertain about what I even want at all. (Travel, or a home? Single life or a relationship? A business or a job?).
A mare few months/weeks ago I was repulsed by the idea of marriage, children, houses, 9-5 work and traditional careers, and craved excitement, adventure and new people. But now, that lifestyle I felt sick to my stomach thinking of for me, seems strangely appealing. Over the last two weeks, I started to envy it. Hence: the confusion!
At least twice: I had a flash of a desire. A lover, a child and a home. WHAT! I pushed that thought immediately out of my mind, as fast as how swiftly I took my clothes off when I finally got laid a few weeks ago (aka. very quickly). “The simple life”: maybe it’s something I do want after all. Or maybe I’ve just had enough excitement for now. We will see, but I am SO excited to be headed home at the end of next month after two and a half years away on adventures.
SO, babes, here are a few things I’ve learnt lately, based only on my life experience and never intended to ever be dished out at advice, even though it’s written to an audience (even if no one reads it). I write only for myself, not to give advice to others.
Everything has a sacrifice, so sacrifices must be chosen with choices too
Yes, it’s all fun and games to go and “follow your dreams” until 1) you need to earn an income to support your life/lifestyle 2) with every choice, there are sacrifices. I’ve been extremely lucky to have been surrounded by and working with many incredible entrepreneurs this year, those who have taken their dreams and turned them into reality. But, the amount of sacrifices made for these dreams to come true is HUGE (looking from the outside in and from what people have told me). Some of my “dreams” I no longer want as I choose now NOT to make the sacrifices for them since I know what they entail.
For example, based on my own experience – I deeply wanted to become “location independent” and have a job/career/business I could take with me all over the world, whenever I wanted. Firstly, this is very do-able these days with the internet, but actually, there are some really significant sacrifices that come along with this lifestyle. Some such as loneliness, people coming and going, setting yourself up in a new place, meeting people, being surrounded by some very intense personalities, finding out where to eat, going to new places constantly which is draining etc. It’s exhausting really! And all of the “stuff” that’s normal at home, doesn’t exist – the routines, the people, the food – its stimuli overload! These things are all surface level sacrifices, but long term this can take it toll. And listening to others stories on the sacrifices they have made has made me reflect deeper on if this is right for me.
Since I’ve only lived in 5 places my entire life it’s not too bad for me, but NOTHING is EVER consistent when you move homes. Everything external is always exciting and enticing and when my base self care slips, due to normal life pressures, well it can be difficult. So I’m thinking about this path I’ve chosen, and if I want to keep following it for now.
With business, the sacrifices are huge. Just as sacrifices are huge with getting married, buying a house, having children – they are also potentially just as significant with other lifestyles, but in different ways. So now, instead of “what do I want”, I also know to ask myself “what am I willing to sacrifice.”
In fact, every choice has a sacrifice – from staying up late to partying on the weekend, to working for yourself, to working for someone else – I’m done with the dreams and wants for now and I’m down and dirty into discernment.
Sacrifices vs simplicity
Right now, I’m craving absolute simplicity. Home. Family. Routine. Structure. Boringness! No new people, experiences or places. Bali: I’ve barely seen it. Because I didn’t come here to travel, maybe I will one day, but I’m not here for the tourism. I didn’t even come here to meet people and make friends. I came because one day in April I said “I kind of want to live there” – at the time I wanted to be somewhere warm and lush and go to yoga and look after my body and my mind. What followed was something entirely different, but with far more depth and substance. And far more challenges! But I haven’t seen much, I haven’t integrated myself into the community that much, I haven’t socialised that much – because I haven’t really wanted to and because I needed to start making some money as a priority.
Sure, I could have got a remote job or some work first, or had some savings and chilled for a couple of months, but I just jumped in and wanted to see what happened.
I needed to focus on securing income so I could stay, and THIS I could write a book on! I’ve burnt out multiple times, have struggled to get into a routine, have had an empty bank account twice, and have learnt so much about how to actually do it now. There’s no way I’d want to do it all over again, but what I’ve learnt now I can take into my next phase.
It’s been so fucking hard, and I’m essentially just a “freelancer”! I don’t even run my own business, let alone multiple like other people I’ve met here have. I now KNOW how much work it takes, and YES I 100% want to continue down this self-employment path for now, but my “big dreams” I wanted a few months ago I no longer want because I’m not willing to make the sacrifices for them. I don’t want to. I’m seeing and hearing of people burning out all over the place. And YES a lot is because it’s fucking exciting, BUT you have to really, really want what you want, otherwise, the sacrifices are not worth it.
Even with something as a schedule you create and choose comes multiple sacrifices. You have to learn how to self-discipline on a whole other level. Only two weeks ago I stopped working nights and weekends. The 9-5 is EASY, yes the grind is rough, but on the flip side of it with a completely flexible schedule there are so many choices to make about how to actually run your month, week and day – and this for me has been hard. Not so much the work, but the extreme lack / non-existent routine and structure and all of th choices required. It’s far harder than just setting a schedule, calendar, starting your workday at a certain time. It’s far harder than just trailing some productivity techniques (I’ve read so much and trailed so many different ones). Because – you have to find what works for you and your rhythms. It’s totally individual. It’s trial and error. It’s learning and re-learning.
There are distractions, there is the admin, there is upskilling, not to mention getting and securing work, doing the work (that’s the very easy part!), and how long that all takes before you get paid. So, I’ve moved to a different invoicing system, am CONSTANTLY working on my money mindset as when you have to break down and market your time and skills and ASK for money for it, triggers arise. I actually now feel like I’m ready to begin – having all this base knowledge I do have. But I also deeply have to balance work with life. And incorporating so much rest into my schedule as I really could not do it otherwise. Health must always come first.
That’s just my experience and others have found it easy, but I have been very picky about who I work with. If I took any job then yes sure, but I only want to work with those I find inspiring full stop no exceptions.
Is “having a purpose” a load of bullshit?
Especially our generation, we all feel we must have some “greater purpose” and the “lack” of it seems to drive people crazy. We feel lost! We feel confused! We don’t know what we want! And don’t get me wrong, some people DO feel they have found a purpose and that’s great! But I know that doesn’t work for everyone. I’m okay with NOT having a “purpose” and feeling lost and confused and not knowing what the fuck I even want right now. I don’t feel amazing about it, but I feel okay with it, which will mean soon I’ll be far more comfortable with it, which will probably mean soon I’ll stop trying to “make things happen” so much and be enjoying the days more, simply for just being alive to enjoy the days (and whatever they entail). I’ve gone through a different kind of uncertainty like this before, so know how this process works for me now.
Also, since life is forever in a state of flux, what we want changes often. Our passions will change too.
Since as humans we are “meaning making machines” we like to turn everything into meaning something, when it stark reality everything is completely and utterly meaningless. Which then means: we get to choose our meanings. Which is actually kind of cool!
The “purpose”: It’s like we need something to offer to this world, to impact others, to leave our mark. And with our generation, this is often heavily sold to us as “our career”.
Finding this god forsaken self-meaning-made “purpose” is (I think) sometimes all in our heads but also extremely culturalised and socialised onto us. The fabulous biochemical holistic nutritionist Dr Libby wrote about the extreme energy expenditure of trying to “find this purpose” and that perhaps our purpose is to JUST BE. As in, just be alive! Wherever the fuck you are, whatever the fuck you’re doing. Not your job, your relationship or even your children. And yes if you’re a yogi you’ll probably add in something about presence, and being totally here are we are right now in this moment, which is I think a nice addition to it.
But unless you’re a yoga teacher, or spend 4 hours meditating a day (pretty much ever second person I meet in Ubud), then THE NOW is ALSO an illusive concept to the modern millennial. Yes to meditation! Yes to yoga! But, also, re-wiring thought patterns is a daily practice for the rest of your life – and to be honest, I can’t really be fucked with that. SO I will keep practicing meditation etc but I also choose to live in the modern western world too. And with that comes past-tripping and future-hopping. It’s just how our minds work.
I’m okay with this all for me. I seen the extremes of mindfulness, yoga and spirituality here – these people are the real deal and live and breathe these principles and practices. While wonderful for them (they all seem very happy and fulfilled might I add), that’s not for me either. After every ‘spiritual’ event I go to, I feel I need 5 cigarettes (and I don’t even smoke), and 3 gin martinis – to balance it with the modern western hedonistic “real” world, as I love being in that world too! Actually, I love being in that world more. No kind of extreme suits me, and this is another kind of extreme, although a happier one than western hedonism for sure.
Summary: I never was looking for a “purpose” BUT I have deeply realised that the work I do doesn’t need to be my “dream” or “passion” – and that I can do them as side gigs. When you attach making money / needing to make money through your passions things change. It works for some sure, but others nope. And for me, I don’t think so. I never wanted my life to be about my work, whatever it is my work is.
Hobbies vs careers
What I’m trying to say here is: with all this talk of wellness and mindfulness and yoga and all of the spiritual shit people talk about – maybe nothing needs to change at all. You don’t need to do yoga every day if you don’t want to. You don’t need to go on retreats. You don’t need to spend 2 hours a day praying or 4 hours meditating. Unless you want or need to / which if so do that! But you don’t need to change anything at all. So well, I haven’t.
Because really, it’s NORMAL (in a good way) to have a DAY JOB that pays the bills, to work 9-5 to live in one place – because in the (paraphrased) words of Liz Gilbert (Yes, I am in Ubud and reading Liz Gilbert, kill me with platitude) she urges NOT to quit your day job and turn your creative pursuits into your career. In fact, she wrote and published three books, some of which were best time sellers, before she quit her “day job” and turned her passion for writing into a career. She was all like HOLA TO YOUR CREATIVE PURSUITS AS A VOCATION, but not as a career.
I write this for every “lost” person who has “no idea what they are doing with their life” – because, the more people I meet, the more I think mostly everyone is like that anyway. I spoke to a life coach in Feb who was working in a beautiful Air B&B in Mexico overlooking the ocean and even she said “don’t worry, I don’t know what I want to do either.” I spoke to someone else who has smashed it with her business and had made a lot of money and travelled the world, but wonders if she lost years of her life to work. I feel many wonder if they have made the right choices, but we have never before had so many options that it’s almost impossible to know sometimes unless you try it.
Follow your curiosities and quit whenever the fuck you want
I’m into following my curiosities. For awhile it was all things spiritual, now after witnessing it in full force, it’s all things simplicity. At one point in my life it was all things holistic health, so I worked at an organic cafe, raw food company and farmers market. Another point it was wanting to find MY purpose by working for non-profits – yes I admit, to benefit myself by helping others – so I did that for a couple of years. Then to become location independant – so I tried that too, and while I want to do this still in some respects, I‘m not stuck on it like it’s the only way I want to live. Then, perhaps I want to write, but just for fun. Also – to start my own business – right now, not so much! I want to continue to work with entrepreneurs and inspiring people for sure. But for now, that’s perfectly enough for me.
And then, when or if you no longer want to do it. Then you no longer have to. I LOVE QUITTING! I love giving myself permission to change direction whenever the fuck I want.
If you have found something you want to do, to try, to see – then do it. Because what you will have is the “journey” – that will always be yours and that is what everything is about anyway. It’s not actually about the money you make (although that is also very, very nice), but it’s HOW you made it, it’s what you learnt – that is what builds character (I think). The most interesting people I’ve met here had nothing, and created something from that. Some then making hundreds of thousands, others quitting their second start up. It doesn’t matter! As that journey, is always going to be yours.
Lately I’ve stopped ALL my self care and #spiritual practices, as many no longer resonate with me, and many I need to re-think. I have however slipped without any of this, so I’ll be re creating base self care practices and routines soon, but for now, I’m resting and rethinking.
The choosing to be alone and the loneliness paradox
For someone like me, who is a complete introvert, I’m not one to be out socialising all the time with new people. Sometimes YES, but often, I’ll choose to stay in and spend time alone, simply because I need it to even function. So loneliness has hit me this year. I live AND work alone – I have clients yes, but they are all remote connections so we don’t have any ‘in-person’ time. I’ve met MANY wonderful people, but with this lifestyle people come and go (especially in a “digital nomad” urgh worst description ever I know! hub like Bali). So I meet people that I actually like and connect with and then, they leave.
I’m constantly meeting new people, and there are constant daily opportunities for connection and friendships – of course. But it doesn’t quite roll with me, as to be frankly honest, there are few people that I can or want to spend a lot of time with. Even my best friend here and I don’t see each other that much – but luckily she’s exactly the same as me when it comes to expending energy on socialising and trying to balance that with everything else. So most of the time, I actually prefer to be alone. Hence – the loneliness! It’s a paradox.
Also, I’ve met many amazing people that for one reason or another, I don’t quite “vibe” with – both with friendships and dating. For me, if I don’t instantly connect and if it doesn’t flow, I usually “give up” on these connections – I think because as an introvert, any social interactions can very much take it out of me. And more and more I realise just how absolutely fundamentally important energy expenditure is. And that if things don’t flow I now let them go.
Basically, it’s about saying NO, not about saying YES
This is a HUGE life lesson I’ve learnt over the last 2 weeks. Of course, go follow your dreams etc but to make shit happen, discernment and boundaries are absolutely PARAMOUNT. I want to say yes to it all, to travelling around this island, to meeting new people and hanging out with them, to starting and running my own business, to dating lots of hot and interesting babes, to travelling the world etc! BUT I simply cannot do it all.
Energy expenditure is EVERYTHING. I’m amping up the NO’s and spending far more time resting (needed!), taking things slow as my body is screaming out for it, stopping going on dates for a while again (so fun but exhausting), spending time alone and not going to social things and getting back to basics with self care.
Now, I’m off to lie in the sun and read and then nap and then probably watch a film. Tomorrow hopefully the same.
Real vibes and chill love as per!