Prologue: How I Ended Up A Digital Nomad / by Olga Kraineva

I just started my Remote Year journey – a program for working professionals to travel the world with other working professionals for a year.

Swap the Pacific for the Adriatic

Swap the Pacific for the Adriatic

How I got here? According to psychology, thanks to a quarter life crisis.

I’m currently 25. Starting January of last year (the year I turned 25), I was riddled with a somewhat uncategorized anxiety.

I started feeling trapped in a routine and also unsure of what’s next. I was stuck in wanting a change and to move but also unsure of what, if any, problems that will solve. Things that used to delight me – seeing at least one college friend no matter what bar I went to turned into dread of the routine interactions and “sameness.” Los Angeles began feeling too small and comfortable to me. My philosophy is if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.

I began talking to my friends about this feeling, and many felt the same way as I did. Some felt like they are simply doing the same things they’ve always done (for example – going to brunch and drinking every weekend) just because that’s what everyone is doing (even if they no longer really want to be doing that anymore). And others believe this feeling of being lost stems from not having the next step in our lives clearly defined for us.

Weekend routine

Weekend routine

Up until this point, there was always something to strive for, the next step to look forward to:

  • First grade goes to second grade
  • High school goes to college
  • Higher education
  • First job
  • First promotion

Sure, of course I’m not a major executive at my company so I have a lot of promotions to strive for (thank you, gamified motivational system that is the corporate ladder) – but otherwise – what is the next thing to do? According to society, that would be finding a life partner and starting a family, but I’m not quite ready for that either.

So that leaves me with just being in the current state that I am, not entirely sure if I want to be here or not. It leaves me reflecting on my hobbies and the ways I spend my time and wondering if that’s how I want to spend my time.

Doing just a little bit of research on these feelings, a myriad of articles come up talking about the quarter life crisis and it’s as unsettling as it is comforting, since according to the internet I’m literally in the midst of phase 2 of a clearly defined four-phase life crisis. Phase 1 is feeling trapped and locked into your same routine (sounds familiar?), while phase 2 is the realization that change is possible. Phase 3 is rebuilding a new life and the final phase is creation of new interests, aspirations and values. To read more on this, I liked this article

Thus in LA, I was fully riding out the first phase of a quarter life crisis, and I was starting to become the type of person I hate. I have always said that if you don’t like something, change it.

It took another push, professionally, for me to act on my wish for change.

In November 2016, I was at month four of working 12-14 hour days and 10 hours on the weekends. I was officially burnt out. My life-work balance was nonexistent. It was another kind of routine: work, sleep, repeat. And that was if I could sleep. As someone who never had issues sleeping before, I would wake up in the middle of the night sweating about some sort of deliverable or presentation the next day. Without fulfilling my soul by doing things that I loved outside of work and without sleep, I was starting to unravel – anything could easily shoot me into a panic, I was constantly anxious and not someone I liked.

I finally knew it was time for something different. Travel has always being a large part of my life, and I knew that if I was going to take some time away from work, I’d want to do something productive, like volunteering abroad. Then I got an advertisement from Remote Year. I would be able to work at my existing company (which I loved, despite the current situation) and travel the world while I was doing it, hopefully allowing me to restore some work-life balance into my world. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Change is in my hands. I am comforted by the words of a friend, “you are exactly where you should be.”