“Are you almost done with those emails? I want to hangout.”
107 Unread Emails.
“Sure, I’m done.”
My heart raced with anxiety as I clicked my laptop closed. I would never be done.
I was currently on vacation with my (now ex) boyfriend, Tom*. It was the same old story. Guys love the idea of a girl who travels for work…until they realize said girl actually needs to work.
Travel blogging is an amazing job in so many ways. I’m proud of the fact I’ve created a career for myself, that I can make my own work schedule and have the ability to travel regularly. It’s also a lot of hustling. Comments like “So you ‘just’ write about about travel and get paid?” Or “People give you money to lay on the beach?” infuriate me. Anything I get paid to write, promote or photograph means hours of outlining, editing, shooting and pitching myself to land said gig. Sure, I’m lucky that I’ve been doing this long enough to often have projects come to me, but not always, and I can’t rely on it.
Basically, while wonderful, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and after being entwined in my life for six months and getting a first-hand look at what I do, I would hope my boyfriend would understand my need to do some work on his day off.
But he didn’t; and neither has any guy I dated before him who wasn’t a digital nomad. Yes, we’re nomads — and that’s really awesome. We’re also digital, meaning our work lives are online.
Another guy I once dated told me I was “addicted to social media,” proudly boasting how he wasn’t even on Facebook. I would have loved to reply “well at least I’m not addicted to paperwork,” but I just shrugged it off. Most of my friends can name who everyone we know is dating, what they ate for breakfast and what the latest meme is. When I go on Facebook or Instagram I don’t have the capacity to dilly dally; it’s work.
It’s a different type of job, and in many ways it’s more in your significant other’s face. Even if they work more hours their job is likely confined to a certain office space. When they’re home, that means playtime. For digital nomads, there is no room, no cafe, no beach and no bus too loud or Wi-Fi-less to be our office. No internet connection? I’ll work on personal non-research posts, tweak my business plan or edit photos in Photoshop. Sun glare outside? I’ll be under a tree somewhere typing. It can make it wrongly appear that I don’t want to spend time with the person I’m dating or that Facebook is more important.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy trips and days off with my special someone. When I’m not working I’m very disconnected; in fact, many of my friends tell me I’m a horrible texter and that I never answer my phone. I take that as a compliment that I’m good at digital detoxing when I’m off.
Because I also do take off. What’s the point of making your own schedule if you can’t enjoy it? Okay, I often do work over 60 hours a week — just like any business owner would whether they own an online or physical space — but I also have the ability to tweak deadlines and take off when needed. That doesn’t mean after 5pm I’m free to hangout or that I can go away for a week and not look at a computer the whole time, though.
Does A Digital Nomad Need Another?
Now that I’m back to being single, I’m once again asking myself the same old question: can I date someone with a 9-to-5 job, or should I stick to digital nomads? I love being with someone I can hangout with at home with wine and movie, take to brunch with friends and see concerts with, and if they’re passionate about what they do — whether it be an office job or not — than I think that’s hot; but when someone’s lifestyle is so different from your own can you truly understand each other?
I’m sure there’s a way. And I’m sure many of you have personal success stories you can share. If so, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Notes On Why I Choose Not To Be A Full-Time Nomad [Blog Inspiration]
Digital Nomads: How to Live, Work and Play Around the World by André Gussekloo [Great Reads]
KnowRoaming SIM Card Sticker [Connected Travel]