It’s confusing sometimes, looking in the mirror at your young adult self and realising that you have become… a kind of nomad, a here-and-there, a content patriot of living in the now.
“I have realised that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
A few years ago while I was studying towards my UCT Bachelor of Arts degree in Film & Media, my father once half-joked that I’d evidently end up as a teacher somewhere. I once considered this ignorant remark as worthy of a “pffff” at most. Well, nowadays the ironic reality of my being a part-time teacher manifests itself as a content smirk.
Now, now, BA-haters. It was not the ‘evident consequence’ of my BA-degree that led me to this part-time occupation, but rather a predisposed passion for teaching, language, and dance, coupled with the knowledge that I was always meant to be self-employed.
I’m currently 26 years old and work as a freelance teacher, writer, and pole dance instructor. I have also started my own non-governmental women’s empowerment project. As you can see – a total here-and-there. A frequent hustler.
Confusing at times? Yes. Questioning my choices and decisions? Yes, because I’m not Trump.
If you didn’t get that joke, watch the following. Sarcasm aside, my current state of content semi-confusion, and multi-disciplinary occupations are exactly where I want to be at this point in my life. And I’m not alone.
Chronic Freelancers – Can’t Hold Us Down
One of the best things that can happen to chronic freelancers, travellers, nomads, floaters, dreamers, and the likes, is to have conversations with like-minded people and those living their lives with similar confusion and content. The more you enter into the world of these non-conforming lifestyles, the more you realise that there are in fact countless young and old adults who don’t have a cooking clue where they will be in 12-months’ time, but who also wouldn’t have it any other way. Content in their confusion, as it were.
I recently went on a hike up Lion’s Head with a school friend of mine. She must be one the most unpredictable people I know, in terms of where in the world she is and what she’s up to. After having completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Rhodes University in 2013, Katja Schreiber has been trotting the globe as a freelance scuba diver in the Caribbean, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and Spain. At the same time, she’s a freelance film editor, event organiser and full-time nomad.
Like me, she’s grateful and privileged to have a supportive family. While we have these privileges, we owe it to ourselves, and to the people who support us, to use the opportunity and reach our highest personal and professional potential, while also giving back. In Katja’s case, it’s by getting involved with nature conservation and preserving our threatened environment.
Another example is 32-year old Jodi Jade Smith who makes a living by travelling the world with her small family and selling her own artisan jewelry (check out her amazing Hikuricreations). Her travels started with the desire to experience different cultures and tribes, encountering alternative ways of living, as well deepen her connection with nature.
“I knew deep down in my soul that there was more to life than working a 9-5 job, getting married, and having two dogs – society brainwashes us to believe that that is what happiness is. I know as a soul on this human journey that my role in this life is far more important than that.”
Challenges of Living in the Now
Of course, the freelance, travelling, and hustling life isn’t easy. And having a plan B (like other study or job opportunities, or financial backups) certainly helps to calm the nerves and take the leap. It’s also important to have supportive family and friends who can cheer you on as you venture out of the system.
There have been plenty of occasions where people have lectured me about my lifestyle, attempting to rip me out of my apparently unrealistic perspective. Some of the more frequent remarks go along the lines of…
“You can’t do this forever. It’s going to be difficult for you once you have children.”
“Just find a rich husband, hahaha.”
Some of the concerns are granted, of course. This lifestyle does come with risks.
At the age of 36, Jacobie Serfontein decided to ditch her finance job to start working as a volunteer in the disaster areas of Nepal and Ecuador. Her family’s initial reaction to the drastic change was with concern for her financial security, health and safety. With time, however, they starting seeing why Jacobie made these decisions.
“Even though they struggled to understand the change at first, they were always supportive. As time went by and they saw the authentic happiness that my new life brought me and others, their worries decreased and they started to encourage the meaningful work I now do.”
Circumstances may and do change. And yes, we might think differently if we decide to have, or if we fall sick, or if savings run out, or if we get busted as international drug mules… catch my drift?
As Jacobie says,
“Of course it is challenging. But you know what? I would choose it a million times over because I’ve never felt more genuine in how I live my life, and that feeling is simply priceless.”
Jodi affirms this perspective and voices the benefits of her lifestyle that make it worth it despite the challenges.
“Sometimes I miss my family, and I’ve lost friends because of my nomadic lifestyle. I’ll probably never fit into society again… but I’m also happy about that. Travelling allows me to grow and experience living in the moment, and to find myself. It expands my consciousness and makes me realise what is really important.”
Maybe not Forever, but Definitely for Now
My people and I talk about our ways a lot, and every time we reach the same conclusion: we don’t know what the future holds, and we don’t know how our lives will change (as does no one), but for now we are following our guts and trusting that things fall into place as they should, as long as we go with our intuition and always do our best.
“A lot of the time during my volunteering I’ve felt dirty, tired, scared, exposed and a lot of other overwhelming emotions. But most of all I I’ve felt alive and necessary. It’s what I feel when I work with the most humble of people. And this is what it’s all about, surely?”
– Jacobie Serfontein
People like me, Katja, Jodi, and Jacobie, are in an extremely privileged position to lead this kind of life and learn from the failures and successes that it brings. There really is no point in wasting the precious opportunity to do what we love and being able to take and give back in a way that completes us as individuals.
We might not have a linear direction, and we might not always know what exactly we are doing, but heck – does anyone really? For now, this is good.
Do you feel that the regular 9-5 job is not for you either? Perhaps you are also an inner freelancer. Hop on over to our article about the pros and cons of freelancing and find out whether the lifestyle is up your alley 🙂