In the past I would go on these epic month-long backpacking trips through Europe and Asia. I'd rough it in hostels and sleep in airports or train stations overnight. I wanted my money to last and the good times to keep on rolling.
Thing is though, when the good times did come to an end, I would inevitably suffer a serious bout of post-holiday depression. I'd be left with nothing but a drained bank account, an SD card full of memories and a yearning to escape immediately. In these moments I'd literally do anything to go back.
I did this for years. Work, save, travel, work, save, travel, work, save, travel...
It wasn't until my year living in China teaching English that I realised enough was enough. I didn't want to be a shit-kicker without savings or a life plan. Escaping reality once you're past 25 starts to get old. You get old. People look down on you for not having your shit figured out.
That's when I decided to learn to code and build a career that would allow me to work and travel and save money. I no longer wanted to escape reality. Of course I still wanted to travel (and always will), but this time I'm now doing it as an adult.
Most of my friends probably still think I'm escaping reality. And a lot of people still don't understand what I do or how it's possible to work and travel. Being a digital nomad is still a very unique profession in this day and age. And let me be clear: I know it's not for everyone ... nor should it be. It takes a certain amount of risk to want this kind of life.
However, the fact remains that by learning a creative skill you can open up so many extra doors in life that I'd highly recommend it to everyone. It's so liberating when you can generate money with a newfound art. And it's even more rewarding knowing that you can do it all without a college degree!
Freelancing to me is the ultimate freedom. It allows me to have a safety net between "jobs" and it also allows me to D.I.Y my career on my terms. There's no pressure to "stick it out" at company X just because the paycheck keeps the lights on at home.
No matter who you are or what you're into, all it takes is just some dedication to learning something new. Learn for free on YouTube or pay someone to teach you. Practice a ton, and offer your new "services" to friends for free. Build a portfolio and create a new resume. Don't look for overnight success, but do it because you enjoy the art.
For me it took about 18 months to two years. Finally, things started to snowball and four years later here I am.
I'm not saying I've "made it". Heck, I could lose all my clients tomorrow and be scrambling to make ends meet. But at least I know that my skills are in demand and that someone is willing to pay me for them. Best of all, I love being able to help people. I get to work with a huge variety of businesses and solve complex problems.
So yeah, I don't want to preach or say how great things are for me. Sorry if that's how it sounds ... Not my intention. If there's any takeaway, I'd want it to be this:
"Know that you have the power to create your reality".
I'm no longer a backpacker bum escaping reality. I know it's cliche, but anything is possible as long as you knuckle down and to the hard work to make the change you yearn for.