It’s been a while since I posted here, mainly because I wasn’t sure how to write a public post that truly captured my feelings and experiences throughout the past year. But I now find myself in a very similar position to three years ago, almost to the day.
Back in 2018, I made a decision that changed the course of my life as I left the US, discovered the digital nomad lifestyle and embarked on a journey I will never forget. In that first post, I found myself asking two questions, and now have some answers – even if they are easier said than done:
How do we really live our best life, the life we believe in? By following our hearts.
How do we take the leap and break from the norm? With a f*ck ton of courage.
1. It all starts with an idea.
Shortly after my arrival to Costa Rica in March of 2020, the world was forced to a standstill, throwing a major wrench in life as I knew it. Instead of continuing on through Latin America, I was forced to decide where to ride things out. The longer I stayed in Santa Teresa, the deeper my community connection grew and for the first time, I found myself wanting deeper roots, a true home base I could call my own.
I was surrounded by beautiful beaches, exotic animals, tropical weather and an incredibly welcoming and supportive community. It was my bubble of paradise, and I began learning about the local real estate market, earthquake standards, water well requirements, and more as I looked at everything from beachfront homes to mountain views, land lots to fully furnished homes.
It seemed after 3 years of incredible experiences, personal challenges, growth, and nomadic living, I was again ready for change. Little did I know this was just the start, and following a series of events in mid February, I found myself returning to the US for the first time in well over a year. Maybe that idea of a home to call my own was right…but was I looking in the wrong place?
2. If the idea comes first, denial comes second.
I have spent the past three years building my nomadic lifestyle, growing my network and working hard to support myself in a non-traditional way with a freedom I did not previously know. How would it feel to give that up? Would my personal boundaries be strong enough to maintain my life balance? Would those pressures and expectations I felt in the past rear their ugly heads again?
3. Then the stubbornness kicked in.
Except this time, it wasn’t just stubbornness, it was also choice. I was reminded nothing is permanent. Just because I would be back stateside wouldn’t mean I have to conform to tradition – my stubbornness could help protect me from that fate! And now it is my choice – no feelings of obligation, guilt or expectation – possibly because I’m not sure people will truly believe I am coming back!
But now, I am choosing to be near family and those events I don’t want to miss. I am choosing an ease to life – speaking the local language, one stop shopping, brands I recognize! I am choosing to turn my home country into my new world of exploration.
4. Organization isn’t so key this time around.
I’ve moved enough to not worry about planning extensively. I’m confident in my ability to adjust to my circumstances. I’ll be surrounded by an existing community – not building another new one from scratch.
This time, it’s about boundaries and setting myself up for success. I need the freedom I’ve found in my travels. I need to continue putting myself first in my choices. I need to listen to my heart to keep my life my own, to stay true to my personal identity. I trust the logistics will figure themselves out.
5. But the fear is still there.
While the details I’ve started working through aren’t scary, they are incredibly overwhelming. Fear of the unknown is still there, but the real fears are new. What if I end up liking something I’ve spent so much time escaping? Or what if those pressures, the rat race, and the feelings of outside judgements, come back in full force? What if I’m making a huge mistake?
6. Instead of advice, I asked for support.
I spoke with anyone who would listen about my fears. I asked friends what helped them to adjust in similar situations. I leaned on my support system and asked for accountability in staying true to myself. This time around, I wasn’t looking for acceptance, I was looking to be heard and understood.
7. Because my decision was already made.
While I may still overanalyze, I know in my gut it feels right to move home. It’s scary as hell to admit that, but it’s not something I want to fight. I don’t know what the future holds, but just as I won’t live my life by society’s standards, I won’t live my life in fear. Besides, nothing has to be permanent!
8. To make this all work, preparation was key!
Three years ago, preparation meant the logistics of moving, learning to live from a suitcase, and transitioning from corporate life. This time around, preparation is mental – setting boundaries, building in accountability and support, and prepping for reverse culture shock. Because yes…I forgot how stop signs work!
It’s also about being kind to myself, remembering that things take time, and creating space when needed.
9. Now I am starting a new chapter.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how I’ll feel over the next few weeks, months and years. I am excited to rediscover city life balanced with regular small town escapes. My explorations will continue…over back country roads, dive bars and rediscovering a career with passion and freedom. Cultural immersion won’t stop – it will just take on a new form.
Don’t let fear hold you back. Embrace your ideas, and take the leaps that make your life the greatest adventure it can be!