My Year of Living Nomadically: Following My Intuition & Trusting The Unknown
I’ve been on a big adventure since I packed up my car to the rim with my stuff and left my home in the Bay Area and my fitness career behind at the beginning of 2016. It’s something I’ve been quiet about online (only friends and family have known), but I want to open up about how I’ve been living in order to tell my story, and in case it will be of help to you in any way.
While I chose to live nomadically, I did it randomly without any kind of plan or savings or income to support me. At first sight, it seemed as though I had stumbled upon it, but upon further reflection, it was something that I had been creating for years. A few years before I decided to live as a nomad, one of my best friends and her partner had left their corporate jobs, bought a Sprinter van and set off to live a life on the road. I envied their every travel and lived vicariously through them until I finally set off on a similar journey of my own. My journey has been quite different and unexpected, and that’s exactly what I’ve needed at this time in my life.
The original plan was to move to Los Angeles. It was never about the destination of LA that drew me, but finally leaving the Bay Area, where I lived for 8.5 years, and starting something new. I was still cramming stuff in my car before the break of dawn before I set off on my new journey. Whatever I was able to fit in my car was what I would take with me. That was it. Everything else had to go. My car was packed so tight that I could barely see out of the rearview and passenger mirrors. It felt liberating to purge any attachment to stuff. As I left my beautiful, comfortable, sunny studio, I noticed that no feelings of sadness or grief were present. On the drive down I-5 to LA, I felt nothing but excitement to enter a new place, but as soon as I entered my storage unit that I rented in Venice, a different set of emotions arose.
Fear crept in. And it crept in hard. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as I forced myself to carry all of my belongings from my car to my storage unit. I let myself cry as much as I needed to while moving my stuff. I was confused. I went from excitement and feeling liberated to feeling scared, alone, and uncertain of where I was and what I was doing. The reality was setting in quick and all I could do was remember to breathe and take one step at a time. To take care of myself, I reached out to my partner, family, and friends, who listened compassionately to my “meltdown.” Without their support, my experience would have been more difficult.
The first week at my airbnb in Venice, I let myself feel all of my emotions and told myself to focus on the present moment. I did begin looking for places to live but I was feeling uncertain about where I wanted to live and whether I wanted to live anywhere at all. The only thing I felt certain about was leaving the Bay Area. I had no desire to go back, and being alone in a new, big place after living in the same area for so long was unexpectedly intimidating. I kept telling myself, it’s okay, I did this in my early 20s (move around a lot), I can do it now.
I don’t know how to describe what happened next except that everything inside me was telling me not settle down. Anywhere. I knew I was not ready to settle down yet. Not here. Not there. Not anywhere. A nomadic life had always appealed to me and I envied those who took the courage to live it, so it was no surprise that this desire was calling me loudly. But, how was I going to pull it off? I didn’t have savings, like many other nomads I knew. I didn’t have a van or an RV to live in; I couldn’t even afford one and I was cautious about living alone in a vehicle as a woman. I didn’t have a remote job. Or a job at all. I was just setting out as a freelance writer and interviewer, and blogger. I didn’t know how I was going to pursue a nomadic life if I didn’t know how I was going to fund it! But, I decided to trust and follow my intuition, which was telling me to step into and embrace the unknown.
People thought that I just didn’t like LA. Los Angeles was never the destination, it was simply a landing place to help me follow my longing desire to leave the Bay Area, which had been brewing for a while. For years, I wasn’t open with my loved ones about my desire to move because I was afraid of that desire within myself. I was afraid of leaving my friends, of feeling lonely in a new place, of leaving all of the comforts that I knew, of starting anew. But, over time, that fear kept telling me that it was there because I was meant to act upon it. Sometimes what we desire most is what we fear most, and that’s what that fear was for me. It took a phone call with a life coach, who is now a good friend of mine, to help me take the plunge. I remember during our call, I told her that I wanted to move away but that I was too afraid and couldn’t confront that desire yet because the fear was too strong. She didn’t push it, but she heard me and said that, sometimes, if we’re feeling stuck in our life, moving to a new place can shift that and be exactly what we need, which resonated with me hard.
The next day, after the phone call with the life coach, I felt a big shift inside myself. That fear of moving away was disintegrating. There was something about telling someone about my desire that stripped away that heavy surface of fear that gave me permission to truly tap into that desire underneath and feel its excitement. A few days later, I had made the decision. I was going to move and I chose LA as a place to land for a while. My decision had nothing to do with LA, but it had everything to do with completely changing my living situation, creating newness, exploring something different, and following my intuition.
I didn’t know how I was going to live nomadically, but I’d been listening to my gut and that voice inside of me that tells me to do the things I’m afraid of or to step into the unknown, and as a result, things have been flowing. Listening to my intuition has required me to trust in the unknown, to trust that things will happen that are in alignment with my purpose and desire. It hasn’t always been easy listening because, sometimes, the fear or the discomfort begs for more attention. But, when I ask myself deep down, what feels right, the direction is clear.
It’s been almost a year since I set out on this nomadic journey, and it’s been a challenging, beautiful, and amazing experience. My “homes” have included housesitting opportunities, airbnb, and family and friends. Traveling from one place to another has challenged my perceptions of stability. My life has been anything but stable, by society’s definition. It can be stressful not knowing where I’m going to be living next or what opportunities will arise, which has gotten me more in touch with taking care of myself and feeling grounded. I’ve realized that what stability really looks like for me is feeling grounded and centered, and that a static home or place is not a requirement for me to feel grounded.
Because I haven’t had a full-time job, and kept money rolling in by working flexible jobs and coming across unique temporary opportunities here and there, I’ve had a lot more time to focus on my passions and desires. This has allowed me the time to expand Real Feminist Stories blog and add a podcast pursuing my true passions and purpose. I’ll be honest though, often times I’ve thought, You’re 31 years old, what are you doing? You should have more money, be more successful, more x, y, and z!
But, I’m able to recognize that that voice is societal conditioning. It’s the conditioning that has tried to get us to believe that our worth is based on how much money we make, having a nice home to live in, creating and sustaining a nuclear family, working a day job we hate, so on and so forth. Lately, I’ve been examining what my worth truly is and telling myself that I am worthy without having to do anything at all. What a radical concept! We are already worthy. We don’t need a job, money, house, car, or relationship to prove it.
Reminding myself of my true self-worth and that the negative voices in my head are societal conditioning helps me persevere. And, taking a breath and feeling inward, which is how I connect to my intuition. My intuition has been telling me to keep doing what I’m doing. When I get impatient and want to know where I’m headed next, my intuition says Trust. You don’t need to know right now. Goodness, it can be so hard to trust, and it has me thinking that trust is a radical act too! Whether it’s trusting the Universe, Goddess/God, people, the unknown. Trusting that maybe we’re exactly where we need to be. Trusting that maybe we’re being taken care of. Trusting that an amazing opportunity is just around the corner. Trusting that our loved ones have our best interests at heart. Trusting that the next step will be revealed to us.
I feel at home with this nomadic journey. For now. And I know it will change. Nothing is permanent. Things are always changing and we can constantly grow if we’re open to it.
There have been times when I’ve felt lost, questioned myself and doubted my journey. During those tough times, there were friends and people always there to reassure me and validate my journey, “You’re living the dream” or “I’m really proud of you” or “What you’re doing is courageous.” Also, listening to motivating and inspiring podcasts, venting my doubts and crying to friends and family, and focusing on the present moment taking it one step at a time have helped me be more at ease. I’ve listened to a lot of guided meditations and “woo woo” YouTube videos to help me trust the Universe more. Trust has guided my journey. Trust in the unknown. Trust in myself and what I’m meant to experience on this planet.
A Note About Privilege
I do want to point out that being able to live nomadically like I’ve been has been a privilege. Even though I haven’t had the savings and income to really support this lifestyle, I’ve had access to other forms of support. I’ve had family to fall back on in times of need. I’ve had friends who’ve given me opportunities to house and pet sit for them. I’ve had a car and financial help from family for car issues that have arose. As a White person, I haven’t had to fear being or actually be discriminated against when booking airbnbs. If I were roaming around in a van or RV, I wouldn’t have to fear for my life if getting stopped by the police for sleeping in my vehicle as a White person. There is privilege here and I acknowledge that privilege.
Also, I’ll admit, as a woman traveling alone, besides not having the funds to purchase one, I’ve been cautious to live in a van for fear of safety. I’ve heard of women solo travelers who live in a van by themselves, and I support them 100%. And, it’s not something I feel completely comfortable doing for myself; it’s not something I’m willing to risk as a solo nomad. Cisgendered men (White men in particular) have a certain kind of privilege living solo nomadically. They don’t have to worry about being sexually assaulted or fear their life in the same way women do.
If you’re having
that nagging feeling inside you telling you to go after something or try something new, I encourage you to listen to it. Your intuition will not leave you astray. It’s here to support and guide you; it’s your inner wisdom. Listen to that voice, that feeling that your soul and gut is calling. What are you fearing? Take one step in that direction and see what happens. How do you feel? Are you closer to your desires? Are you closer to your purpose or making the kind of impact that you dream of?