I’m often asked how I ended up as a nomad worker. Far from being an act of reckless courage and foresight, my journey of becoming a digital nomad was a purely accidental one. And I owe a huge part of it to a family bankruptcy.
I was 16, completing my A Level at a boarding school in England, and was excited about going to law school. But that was not to be. When I came back home to Mumbai for the holidays, my mum, who came to pick me up from the airport, broke the news in the car on our way home that we were now broke and homeless. “But, hey, we still had the car, so that’s a blessing, right?” she said, optimistic as ever.
In hindsight, my family going broke was a blessing. It shattered the illusion of security and exposed life for what it was — a capricious, ever-changing siren where uncertainty was the only certainty
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” — so said Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu
Conventional thought teaches us the idea of one thing for your whole life — that one job, one role, one identity. Being a digital nomad challenges that approach. Here, the emphasis is on deep diving into a variety of experiences and works, learning on the go and reinventing oneself.
My own nomadic work experiences have included being a salesperson for a cultural workshop company, a backup dancer, an actress, an interaction designer, an organic farmer, a journalist, and currently, someone who works in fintech.
Here, the emphasis is on deep diving into a variety of experiences and works, learning on the go and reinventing oneself
This is one of the secret sauces of the gig worker. Learning goes from becoming a limited time activity in your early years to a continually evolving experience.
Learning exists in a myriad places. Apart from a hand-on Master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, my education mainly stems from books, online courses (Lynda.com, Stanford Online, Coursera) podcasts, TED Talks, workshops, meetups and conversations. And, instead of restricting myself to a particular subject or field, my approach has been to be curious and devour knowledge from many disciplines, even those that seem to have no direct correlation to anything. From entreprenurial summits to philosophy meetups to Maker hackathons, all of these learnings have found their way into my work and ideas. Cross-disciplinary, agile learning gives us the freedom to try new things and opens up a world of varied work opportunities.
This is one of the secret sauces of the gig worker. Learning goes from becoming a limited time activity in your early years to a continually evolving experience
I’ll go into this one in more detail in a later article, because communities or tribes are at the heart of a truly fulfilling digital nomad experience. There are few things as growth-inducing as surrounding yourself with people who are smarter and more experienced than you. Apart from the “learning on steroids” that comes from being around them, these communities often come to signify “home” — islands of rootedness, where you are accepted for who you are, while also pushing you to be your best self. There are innumerable communities around the world, organised around purpose, goals, interests, vocations, and ideas. I will explore these in detail in a future edition.