Life as a digital nomad is amazing. You’re living your life at its fullest. You get to know so many inspiring people. You’re making friends from all over the world and going out several times a week is also part of the lifestyle. It’s quite a social lifestyle. Having others around you all the time. Living in shared houses, working in shared office spaces… But still, the major downside of the digital nomad lifestyle is loneliness. How is that possible?

The major downside of the digital nomad lifestyle is loneliness.

How is that possible?

It doesn’t matter where you’re looking for information about the Digital Nomad lifestyle. In every blog, Facebook group of Slack channel, facing loneliness is reported as the biggest struggle of digital nomads. Are those DN’s not living the lifestyle the way the majority of the Nomads is living their life? Like they are ‘supposed’ to live their lives? Are they staying in every night to watch the latest episode of Riverdale on Netflix? Or is something else going on?

Lonely or alone

Have you ever thought about the option of being lonely while you’re never alone? There is a significant difference between being lonely and being alone. Myself for example; after two years of traveling, I have met so many new people. I’ve lived in shared houses and worked in co-working spaces all over the world. I went out a lot. Sometimes even five times a week. I attended Digital Nomad meet-up’s, Couchsurfing events, salsa socials, business events and I have had numerous Tinder dates. All with complete strangers. I pushed myself to make the most out of my life. I thought I did it because I am an outgoing person who loves to meet new people. That I had a fantastic social life and friends all over the world.

But in reality, I was joking myself. It was all to fill the gap of loneliness. The excessive partying is like fighting the symptoms of isolation, but I was not facing the real problem. I was just exhausting myself.

Friendships are based on events

Someone told me: Friendships are based on events. And creating sustainable friendships takes time. Time and effort. Nowadays, in our millennial culture, we don’t spend that much time and effort in our relationships anymore. We don’t see the value of it. Interactions became functional, and friends and relationships became exchangeable. And so, they became superficial.

What was for you the last time you made a friend for life? Someone you truly know and who also knows you, not only from the outside but also from the inside? For me, it was when I was 17 or 18. Before Facebook, before WhatsApp. At the time that even sending a text message was expensive. So you saw your friends in real life.

What was the last time you made a friend for life?

For me, it’s about 10 years ago.

For sure, I’ve made friends in the past few years. Like I mentioned before, I have made friends from all over the world. However, those friendships aren’t as solid as the friendships I created over 10 years ago. And they never will be because both my new friends and I moved on. We moved to new places, far away from each other. We still do have contact through social media, every now and then. But there is no opportunity to organize events on a regular basis. So, no opportunity to strengthen our friendship.

The turning point

How did I realize my behavior of meeting new people all the time, continuously making new friends, wasn’t gonna bring me anywhere? It was a couple of months ago. I was in Lisbon, Portugal, and winter was coming. It was time to relocate. But to where? And what did I want to achieve at my next ‘home’? It all seemed to become a bit of a trick: Moving to a new country, finding a house, getting to know new people… Been there done that. I couldn’t think of any destination. Nothing, except my home country.

That feeling got even stronger when I went for Christmas shopping with my housemate, to make his house cozy. And I was feeling an immense feeling of homesickness. Instantly, I felt so incredibly lonely. I wanted to have a home for myself as well. To be able to decorate it, to make it cozy. To organize brunches with friends. Friends who I know for ages. With who I don’t have to act fun, spontaneous and interesting. But who just love me and who will be there for me. Always.

Snowstorms and Wie is de Mol

So, I moved back to The Netherlands and decided to stay here for a while. This year I’m not escaping from winter. I’m not working from a sunny beach destination, in my bikini, drinking a fancy cocktail on the beach. This year I’m facing snow storms in Amsterdam. I’m complaining because it’s so cold and rainy. I’m creating a rhythm like the majority of the Dutch persons has. I’m partying just once or twice a week. I go to bed in time, and I wake up early. But I’m also able to see my family and friends, my real friends, whenever I want. We’re having brunches, parties, or we are just watching the latest episode of ‘Wie is de Mol’*. I’m getting back in touch with people I haven’t spoken for years, and slowly I become more relaxed. Since I’m back, I haven’t faced the feeling of loneliness anymore. I am just happy to be back, to spend time with people who really do know me. And to spend a night alone on the couch every now and then.

I’m home.

Ineke Reus

Ineke Reus

Ineke Reus is the founder of Live Like a Nomad and ambassador of the Digital Nomad lifestyle. Early 2017 she decided she had lived the life others were expecting her to live long enough. She quitted her job and started to travel for three months. In reality, things went different. Three months was too short. She kept traveling and changed from a backpacker into a Digital Nomad, while starting her own company. On Live Like a Nomad Ineke shares true and honest insights about this amazing, desirable, but also tough lifestyle. Besides Live Like a Nomad, Ineke is also the owner of Build that Brand, with Build that Brand she coaches SME's to work successfully on the branding and marketing of their companies. More info: www.buildthatbrand.io.

One Comment

  • Elly says:

    What a fairy story you have written. It is not easy to be so honest.
    Many people have the same feelings as you had: having a job, a house, a relation and then thinking: is this all there is in my life? And no, that is not. There are so many different worlds, beying a digital nomad is one of them. Doing marvelous things, seeying so many countries and joyning so many party’s. But then you are tyered, a little bit gloomy, and then you realise that what you had was good, but now it is all gone. It takes courage to admit that. And you do now for so many people. I admire you that you dare to write that openly. And remember, we will allways love you wherever you are.

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