I see a lot of blog posts selling the dream.
The dream of location independence. Of life as a digital nomad.
The dream of the laptop propped in your virtual office, looking out over the Mekong, the Sahara, the high Andes.
And, yes, location independent working can be great.
It’s magical to be able to work from anywhere in the world. It’s great to be able to travel and earn a living as you do so.
But, y’know what?
I hate to break it to you.
Work is work. Wherever you are…
And all the laws of freelancing – the immutable clash of deadlines, the sheer bloody inevitability of getting paid late when you REALLY need the cash, the horrors of pitching – do not magically disappear because you are permanently in transit.
Back in January, I was in the throes of the transition from a one-year trip spending the alchemical substance that is home equity – I mean, seriously?! How can that even work?! – to life as what the internet insists I call a location independent professional.
I was anxious. So I wrote a post called HELP!!! I’m Location Independent.
I’m less anxious.
Work’s going good.
I have, umm, quite a bit on.
Possibly a bit too much on, in fact.
It’s not that I don’t like what I do.
I make money from this site, now, and I like doing that. I do a little light copywriting, and I like that, too.
I review bars. And that’s fun, though not the merry self-indulgent cavalcade anyone might expect it to be.
I write specialist drinks stuff. I write a bit about travel, though not as much as I’d like because I rarely seem to have the time to pitch. (I’ve even – insanely! – been nominated for an award.)
There’s a couple of projects in the pipeline that I’m excited about. And will deal with once I’ve finished earning some money.
In theory, my work, and my work-life balance, should be pretty bloody good.
Yet still, to be utterly frank with you, I’m a bit pissed off with this working lark.
The plain honest truth? I don’t want to work.
I want to be permanently on holiday, with a little light unschooling thrown in, a little bit of blogging and the opportunity to learn some languages.
Right now, I want to be focused on finding us a nice place to stay in China, some Mandarin language classes, a VPN, some Chinese cash, and all the accoutrements one needs to enter the Dragon Kingdom of today.
I don’t want to be frantically finishing off a job while I’m still somewhere I can (sometimes) trust the internet. I want to be getting my head round Chinese history and exploring Vientiane.
Because location independent working is NOT the same thing as a holiday.
Honestly, it’s not.
And if you don’t get the balance right, your little mobile office on the banks of the Mekong can become as big a cubicle prison – or even worse – than your little cubicle back home.
Only with much, much slower internet.
And the prospect of an hour or so’s expedition to complete a task as basic as printing, scanning, signing and returning a contract.
Play the Lottery.
Would I have it any other way, in lieu of the Lottery, that is?
I’m lucky enough not to need to work anywhere near full-time. I get a huge amount of time with my son.
He gets a great education. (He’s been doing some writing and teaching himself Flash while I work.)
We see things we’d never have dreamed of seeing. We read a lot. Relax a lot. Travel a lot… Eat a lot…
Over the last week we’ve been kayaking, tubing, swimming and motorbiking. We’ve navigated an underground river and guzzled steak tartare and pastries.
It’s a great way to live.
Yet, also, the location independent life is not a bed of roses. And if you pay money to anyone to sell you that dream, you’re going to get pricked.
Or maybe I just need a vacation from my vacation?
*: I took the junk vehicle shot up above in Coober Pedy. Click here for more crazy shots from there.