As a digital nomad, people are always asking what I miss from home. The food? Rarely. The culture? Nope. Medical care? Just my acupuncturist. My friends? Of course. No one ever guesses what I miss most… my laundry room.
I realize this makes me sound like a clean freak, but I assure you I am not. After 7-months of poor laundry service, washing machines that left clothes stiff or smelling of sewage, and washing skivvies in the sink I’ve reached a new low by microwaving my pants in an effort to dry them faster.
You see, I don’t have a backup pair of workout pants. I have an essential wardrobe as I carry my entire life in a backpack as I move from city to city. So if my basement apartment doesn’t have the airflow to dry my pants in 18-hours I either go to the gym in jeans or I don’t go.
So, I microwaved my pants today.
It’s interesting the things we acclimate to. I never would have guessed Remote Year would lead to such innovative laundry techniques (I’ve also ironed with a hair dryer before, my friend uses her hair straightener), much less a non-plussed attitude towards not having creature comforts.
I’ve gone from living in a 1,200ft2 condo alone, filled with awesome “things” I love, to not knowing where I’ll live next month and carrying less than 20kgs (30lbs) of baggage, which includes everything I need to run a business.
It’s liberating as hell.
It’s hard to describe the experience of life on the road and what this year has really been about, but if I had to break it down it would be this:
This lifestyle is about letting go.
“Let go of preconceived notions, fear, the need for certainty, the social constructs we live with, the stories we tell ourselves, expectations and, of course, material goods.”
In February, I had the honor of participating in a lantern ceremony where we wrote our hopes for Remote Year on a lantern before releasing it to the sky. One of my mates hoped for all ‘Remotes’ to find themselves & at the time I remember thinking, “I already know who I am.”
But I could not have been more wrong. I only knew myself in certain terms.
I knew who I was in the context of my old life — of being a great designer & a trusted advisor for the startups I worked with — not as a coach and new online marketer. I knew who I was in my social group and as a solo traveler, not as a community member of 60 new faces. I knew who I was with my makeup and hair the way I like it, wearing the clothes I want, not in the 1,000 degree heat of Asia where makeup becomes pointless and I have a 20-piece wardrobe.
I’ve learned I’m stronger than I think I am. That I’m an eternal optimist capable of looking for the lesson or the good in anything. I’ve learned I’m a survivor and a hustler and I’m not willing to settle for mediocrity. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what I have, or don’t have, in my life when it comes to being happy and being loved. Those things come from within.
And I’ve learned it all by letting go of one thing at a time.