You’ve probably heard this one before. It’s a quote by the founder of Taoism, a Chinese religion preaching simplicity as its core value. The teaching of this philosophy preaches for you to live your life so you can discover who you are – which is what I’ve been doing these last couple of years.
My first step was knowing what I wanted my dream job to be. It’s funny how kids just decide that they want to be something without actually knowing what the whole job description is. At the age of eight, I decided that I wanted to be a bus driver. For me, being a bus driver was the ultimate freedom where you could drive everywhere, talk to fun people and see a lot of places.
But then, after a while, reality hit me. I found out that bus drivers have to follow a certain route, have specific stops and that they cannot just pick up fun people whenever they want or drive to their friend’s place with their bus to go to the beach.
It turned out that my perfect freedom dream job was actually very organized, strict and routine-bound… not my thing.
I had a few other dream jobs after this realization. I then wanted to become a famous rapper, a forest ranger, an anthropologist and a bartender, you know, the usual. I discovered that through these types of jobs, you could travel around and connect with people all over the world.
The idea of finding freedom grew more and I thought I could only achieve this freedom if I’d start to travel. The people around me did not always understand these urges and even my friends at the time seemed to think it wasn’t a sane thing to do before even going to college. My parents were supportive, but told me that 17 years old was too young to travel alone to Asia.
I respected my parents’ wishes and booked a ticket to Bangkok for the day right after I turned 18. Later, I changed the flight to a week later since I didn’t want to miss New Year’s Eve (which I love). And so my new adventure was scheduled to set out in the morning on the first of January. – Travel Tip, flights are very cheap 1th of January. – Travel Tip #2, Don’t fly on the 1th of January if you cannot handle a whole plane full of people who are either still drunk, or have the biggest hangover of the year, probably including the pilot.
I loved writing since I was able to write my name. My dad’s a journalist and my mom’s a writer – so, I guess you can say it’s in my blood. I grew up giving them feedback on their books and articles throughout my entire life.
Eventually, the idea of becoming a travel journalist became my dream career. I wanted to write for Lonely Planet.
It took me a few steps to find a little writing job at a magazine for while I was travelling. The magazine was mostly for Indonesian people in the Netherlands and I wrote a monthly column about finding my roots, since my grandfather is from there and my family is still big on Indo traditions.
After traveling and writing every now and then for about eight months, I had to eventually return to the Netherlands. When I arrived at the airport, I had less than 5 euros to my name. I kept extending my stay until I had absolutely no money anymore to live from. It didn’t matter though, I was hooked on traveling.
I arrived back on September 7 from that trip. I strategically planned it so I came back five days after the first school day, which meant that I had to wait another year to start college. I got into this situation because of my new exploring and travel addiction, which I wanted to feed some more.
Three weeks later, I was in France chopping down trees and building toilets out of wood, wine bottles and clay. Three months after that, I was traveling through Sweden. If I wasn’t on the road or doing odd jobs, I’d work in a restaurant to pay for my next destination.
I didn’t realize it yet but throughout my travels, I was becoming a Digital Nomad. I mastered low-budget travelling by that point and became more than willing to give up luxury to extend my length of stay.
I started thinking about how I could travel and earn money while doing it. If I knew about the term ‘Digital Nomad’ back then, I could’ve just Googled it and found some potential jobs. Nowadays, you can find courses online on how to become one, along with thousands of articles published by people who shared the same passion and were already living this life I yearned for.
With this plan in mind, I chose to study International Communication and Media – mainly because of the mandatory internship abroad.
In year two, we had to choose a foreign language. I decided to learn Chinese and a year later, I was studying in Beijing. China had been on the top of my list of travel destinations since I saw my first Jackie Chan movie. A holiday in China is not enough to see everything and even half a year of living and studying wasn’t either, like with most places.
After completing my studies there, I had to do my internship and decided to go abroad for that as well. I needed a country where the cost of living was relatively cheap since I was going to be living off of student financing. I fell in love with Indonesia fives years ago on my first solo trip and still wanted to learn the language, along with seeing my distant relatives again.
I met an Indonesian guy from Jakarta who was studying the same degree as I was. When I met him in the Netherlands, he said he was working in an expensive internet cafe in Indonesia where people do business or something like that. All I cared about was living there for a while. It didn’t matter if I had to get coffee for people and staple papers all day long.
In the end, I started working for TurnPoint, which educates people to escape from their 9-to-5 jobs into a life they love, mostly as digital nomads. TurnPoint is based in Hubud, a co-working space well known in the digital nomad community, which is where I was working from.
Almost every single person I met, every single day was living my dream and this was Disneyland for me! I saw hundreds of ways to achieve my dream and the best thing was that I had people around me telling me exactly how to do it!
The Indonesian guy, who became the event manager at Hubud, became one of my best friends and helped me pursue a life of being location independent. I came to realize the possibilities were endless, from freelance writing, designing, music production, coaching, programming and so on.
Every step I took in my life was to become location independent, I wanted to become a digital nomad. I wanted to work from anywhere, so I read entire bookshelves on Digital Marketing and SEO, despite having a hard time picking up a school book growing up.
Each day, I feel like I learn so much – more than I’ve ever learned at school or in my home town. Not only do I come across important life lessons but also business advice. I find ways to grow in my new field of work, which I would have missed while staying at home. Finding this freedom and being in a tropical country is truly inspiring and I get new ideas every day.
Above all, I’ve learned that if there is something you’ve been longing for your whole life, make this your journey. Make sure that every step you take is in order to make it happen.
And like Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, said, “Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here.”
Would you like to become a digital nomad? Maybe you are already on the road? What’s your dream job?