WARNING: I’m going to be complaining in this post. The topic I’ve chosen to whine about this time is the worst downside of being a digital nomad: leaving one amazing country to move to another equally incredible one. I’m awful, aren’t I?
Being a digital nomad usually means that after a predetermined amount of time you leave the city you’ve been calling home. If you’ve chosen to stay put for longer than a couple of weeks, chances are that you’ll have been lucky enough to put down some roots. You’ll have a group of mates from all over the world who, despite having only known you for a short time, will have welcomed you wholeheartedly into their lives. You’ll also have a nice place to live (well, sometimes you’ll end up in a shit hole) and your single suitcase of belongings will be neatly stored in your wardrobe. You might even have picked up a lover or two (or maybe even more – no judgement).
The problem I’m struggling with is that it’s very, very hard to leave places and people once you’ve fallen in love with them.
Whiskey Binges and Ugly Crying
One night last week, during my final days in Mexico City, I got drunk. I drank five large neat whiskeys with a superb gringa mate, and she and I got the kind of drunk where you show each other your tits in the bathroom. When I finally stumbled home I was a full emotional wreck. I was so deeply sad that I had less than a week left in Mexico City that my boozy brain decided the only thing for it was to watch Pearl Harbor and have a massive ugly cry.
Do you know how long Pearl Harbor is? It’s three hours and four minutes. You wanna know how much of it I cried through? ALL OF IT. EVERY GOD DAMN SECOND. EVEN THE HAPPY BITS BECAUSE FUCK THEM FOR BEING HAPPY WHEN I’M NOT.
Crying is a Travel Hack
This isn’t the first time I’ve been an emotional wreck when leaving a country that’s become my temporary home. The day I left Colombia last year I cried a sea of tears. The taxi driver taking me to the airport was visibly concerned as I wailed all the way to Cartagena airport, and as I was checking in I just couldn’t calm myself down. A kind woman at the check-in desk was asking me questions to see whether I was smuggling drugs (I wasn’t, FYI) and she asked me why I’d extended my visa to stay in Colombia for longer. As I tried to answer, I fully broke down and whimpered “because I love it so, so much”.
Somehow, my emotional instability landed me an upgrade to an emergency exit seat (if you ever fly JetBlue try out my brilliant travel hack for yourself). As much as I was grateful for the extra legroom I had to question her decision-making skills. After all, she’d just put the lives of the other passengers in the hands of a woman who was clearly unable to hold herself together even in a non-emergency situation. Once in my seat, I continued to weep quietly, as if I was in mourning. But I sort of was. I was losing a life in Colombia that had made me happier than I’d ever been in my entire 30 years on this lovely little planet of ours. And that feeling is no fun at all.
These are the Biggest Downsides of Being a Digital Nomad
It’s like the holiday blues on steroids: you’ve had the best time imaginable and that time is coming to an end. But, that’s the sacrifice that we make when we choose this transient lifestyle. We know from day one that it will come to an end, and that we’ll have to pack away the things we’ve stored in our rented bedroom. That we’ll have a final teary date with a person who may or may not have become special to us if we’d had the time to find out. We’ll stay up with them late into the night because it seems like a waste to spend those final hours together sleeping, and we’ll quietly cry with our head on their chest as we savour those final minutes together. We’ll have final drinks with our circle of friends: the people that have become our family when we’re so far away from our real ones. We’ll dance on podiums and sink tequila after tequila while trying to ignore the fact that it’s super late and our feet are hurting and that we really want to get a hotdog and go home. We try to drag out that last night together because we might not get to see those people again and that’s a really sad thing.
A Shitty Trade-off
For the entire last month of my Mexico City trip, I had nightmares every time I fell asleep. Strange, anxious dreams as I counted down to leaving a place that I’m in love with. And, since I arrived in Medellin earlier this week I’ve been a little grumpy, despite the fact that I love this city dearly. But, I’m sure when I leave here in six weeks I’ll feel exactly the same way. The cycle never ends until you stop moving, I guess.
But, that’s the trade-off. Happiness for sadness, gain for loss, adventures for endings.
Are you a digital nomad? Do you act like a massive baby every time you have to change cities? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know which film you like to do your crying to.