Being a Digital Nomad – Expectations Vs. Reality

Digital Nomad
Digital Nomading in Dubai

Digital Nomadism is one of the hottest trends and buzzwords of the millennial generation. There are more than just a handful of guides, articles and resources out there advising how to become a Digital Nomad, but is all that glitters really gold? Fellow Entrepreneurs and Digital Nomads will surely be able to relate to these expectations of becoming a Digital Nomad vs. realities when you finally make the move.

Expectation: I’m so happy I don’t have to go to an office every day!

Reality: I actually miss having coworkers. Can I hire paid actors to blurt out office related phrases at random intervals so I feel more worky? They can drop classics like “that damn supplier is late again”, and “guess who’s sleeping together??!!!!”

Expectation: I can sit outside a different coffee shop every day with my laptop while soaking in the ambiance

Reality: There’s a bug flailing around in my iced tea, it’s too bright to see my laptop screen, that screaming baby has convinced me to make my boyfriend wear six condoms per sex session and the WiFi is too choppy.

Expectation: Working from home will be a treat!!

Reality: Have now entered strange territory where almost feral. A wild haired, unkempt freelancer in its natural habitat.

Since no-one can see you. Why bother? Hair scraped back like miss Trunchbull. Elasticated sweatpants on fleek. Go out and dress like an actual person you say? I will not wear real people clothes! YOU CAN’T FORCE ME!!

Expectation: Cool! I have no boss so I can manage my own schedule!

Reality: I wish I had a boss to yell at me and tell me what to do. Maybe that way I wouldn’t end up writing until 4am because I was procrastinating all afternoon reading random facts and googling things like “Does anyone really know why possums run off cliffs?” (I mean do we actually know? A great mystery of life!)

Expectation:I can travel all the time and work from anywhere! Wooo! International Business Woman Extraordinaire!

Reality: Nope. Airports, trains, and public spaces also have choppy WiFi and the same damn screaming babies. Going to use 12 condoms at once now.

Expectation: I will join stylish co-working spaces and meet plenty of like minded individuals to sip speciality coffee in boujee places with.

Reality: Wow I almost forgot I’m a total stinge. Is it really worth spending a few hundred dollars a month just to be around other people? Who needs people anyway? What have PEOPLE ever done for me?

Maybe I’ll just be frugal and work at home alone. Maybe I’ll make like Tom Hanks in Castaway and draw a face on a baseball for company. Maybe I’ll name him Eric. Maybe I’ll make out with him. Oh Eric! (On second thoughts let me make that booking…)

Expectation: Managing my own schedule means that I have time for all these extra fitness classes, hobbies and social activities I never did before!

Reality: This sofa… It’s so comfy! There’s always tomorrow to take up new activities…

Expectation: People will be impressed with my work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit

Reality: The stigma involved with working for yourself is real. You know you wake up every day and change your underpants like a normal human before sitting down to work for ten hours, but make any mention of working from home to someone and their mind automatically conjures up images that you are sitting at home all day watching reality TV, eating pastries and digging crumbs out of your cleavage like a slob.

Expectation: Working from home will have zero impact on my relationship. I’ll be the same awesome, fun loving person I always have been!

Reality: Your partner comes home from the office drained. They have put up with the incessant whining of Brenda in accounting, the pointless gossip from Ed in Marketing and the temper tantrums from Sally in Sales. They have had about enough of people for one day. You on the other hand have not spoken to a single soul all day (expect sharing your  thoughts and reflections on Brexit with the cat). When your partner comes home you pounce on them:

Hiiiiiiii sweetieeeeeee!  How was your day? What did you do? Who did you see? What did you eat ?

You spring out from behind the door like a wild cat leaving your partner defenceless. Feral glint in your eye, unbrushed hair, sweatpants and all, excited at the prospect of human interaction.

Sometimes there are aspects of a traditional working life that you miss, then you hear the pitter patter of rain and stormy weather at 6am on a Monday morning and you thank your lucky stars that you can work from home in your elasticated sweatpants rather than having to commence a long, bleary-eyed commute in the rain.

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

4 thoughts on “Being a Digital Nomad – Expectations Vs. Reality”

  1. Good post, I feel like this is exactly me! Usually I eye roll at DN posts because it’s all bromads harping on about “crushing” it at the coworking spaces and what a dream it is living in a $150 condo in Chiang Mai. I’ve tried so many times to like coworking but I’m also stingy and I hate people. But then when I work at home all week I get scared about leaving the house to go back into real society! There must be some kind of balance, but after 6 years I’ve still not found it. Some of us are just tortured souls, I guess. 🌈

    • Hey Jodie, oh my gosh – me too! So happy someone feels the same haha. I have been to a few coworking spaces but yeah, here in Greece they are about £120 a month at minimum to join and I feel like I can’t justify that extra expense. I meet other people to work together with our laptops in coffee shops a few times a week, but then at the end of it all, I hate lugging around my laptop so it seems easier to work at home and get more done without disruptions. Then yeah like you I feel strange when I finally go back outside haha. I am hoping that at some point I will find the solution!

  2. Hahah oh yes, a lot of this sounds so familiar (although I’ve never had an office job so can’t really miss it!). I think the hardest part is time management. I suck at time management and should definitely not be in charge of my on schedules. But I don’t get how it can take me a whole hour to have lunch?? Two, if I fall asleep after, which happens because you know, no one can tell me I can’t nap during work hours.

    This piece was funny, thanks for writing it!

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