Work. Life. Play. Whether I like it or not, these three elements of my one life are constantly battling for their space within my 24 hours of daily existence.
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you believe that time is a social construct and/or relative. In my world, time is served up one 24-hour-pie at a time. For whatever reason we’ve all agreed to this 24-hour measurement of our daily existence on this planet.
“On a day to day level I don’t notice the way I divvy up that 24-hour-pie.”
In general, I feel I balance my activities: from sleep (to which I’d gladly allocate more of those precious hours) to exercise, to work, to daily chores, to tackling compliance details which allow us to exist within the confounds of the rules of society, to self-care and play.
On a day to day level I don’t notice the way I divvy up that 24-hour-pie. In my normal, everyday life the balancing magically takes care of itself – for the most part at least. Yes there are days where my TO DO LIST goes unattended. There are times when at day’s end, I realize that I skipped the exercise or pushed out (yet again) the tedious, no joy, activities like bill paying, grocery shopping, or even car maintenance. But generally, I feel in balance.
The Digital Nomad:
This month, I am working, living, and playing in Hanoi, Vietnam. Pause on the eye roll for just a second. Nowadays the digital nomad concept is hot and very real. While we can all agree the pandemic was a global travesty on many levels, there were gifts. One such gift was the realization that we can continue to contribute to the world virtually. We learned to function while not being in the same room. We work and even play through digital means. In today’s world your physical placement does not necessarily prevent you from earning a living.
“Even though I was already working from places like Dubrovnik, Lisbon, and Cartagena, I would not consider Asia as a possibility.”
To facilitate the ability to work remotely efficiently and effectively, companies like Remote Year have been popping on the scene. Remote Year, founded in 2014 was well positioned to feed our need to travel post pandemic. The company offers one month, four month, and year-long opportunities to work from locations other than your local town office or even your own home.
When I learned of the opportunity I jumped on it. Even though I was already working from places like Dubrovnik, Lisbon, and Cartagena, I would not consider Asia as a possibility. Between the extreme time difference (12+ hours), the language barrier, and the cultural difference, I believed places like Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan were out of reach. So when I learned of this program, I was eager to give it a whirl.
Fast forward, today marks my first full week in Hanoi, Vietnam. What have I learned? It’s actually a bit alarming how much life can happen in one week. Heck, even within the confounds of the 24-hour-pie concept.
My first week in Hanoi was an assault on all my senses. It turned my regular, ease and flow upside down. It just so happens I am traveling with 23 other digital nomads. I have come to refer to them as my camper friends because this feels to me like the sleep away camp I never experienced as a child.
To facilitate interactions within the group, we share a WhatsApp thread where campers can share their whereabouts and recruit fellow campers on outings and the like. With 23 people the thread is continuously bombarded with opportunities. Happenings abound. All day long, my phone pings or vibrates with alluring text messages to meet up for coffee, lunch, or dinner. Random invites to join for a trip to the gym, a run to the grocery store, or meet-up for trivia night at a local establishment, bombard my senses and interrupt my workday.
FOMO Is Real:
“The thing is, jumping on every event – no matter how interesting or fun it sounded – was beginning to cause me anxiety and agita.”
Each time my phone pings or vibrates, my heart rate speeds up in anticipation of what novel amazing adventure is available to me. Often there are competing opportunities vying for my attention, for a piece of that 24-hour-pie. As my first week unfolded, I became acutely aware that my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) was going to be the death of me. Why was I having such a difficult time passing on these offerings? At home I don’t have a hard time saying no and staying in. At home my friends give me a hard time about being a hermit. Stateside my JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) is strong.
The thing is, jumping on every event – no matter how interesting or fun it sounded – was beginning to cause me anxiety and agita. I realize now, a week into the month, that I was desperate to make friends before the inevitable formation of cliques. Knowing that I was probably the oldest camper present, I let my insecurities around ageism propel me into a flurry of activities – not all which made sense for me at the time. I forewent work, sleep, and much needed alone time, opting for as much face time as humanly possible. I wanted to be accepted by my Remote Year peers. More than that, I wanted to be liked.
A Hope For JOMO:
After a full week with my new camper friends which included two excursions, I feel more settled. I did make friends. I think I am liked (funny how we are never too old to want acceptance.) Yes, I am significantly older than all the other women present (try hanging out in bikinis on a boat with them), but I do feel accepted. Whatever that first impression – it’s been made. The true test will come in the following days. How many pieces of my 24-hour-pie will be served up as single servings?
P.S. If this has piqued your interest in a remote work adventure, reach out! If you use my affiliate link, we BOTH get $$$ discounts and, who knows, maybe we can battle the FOMO/JOMO battle together.