Image for post
Image for post

Life is not like Instagram

Happiness takes work and having lived an extraordinary life on the move for more than a decade I know it’s far from easy, despite outward appearances.

Dave Cornthwaite
Feb 8, 2016 · 6 min read

Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences about the constant battles (and subsequent rewards) of living a life less ordinary.

Hello the platitudes!

It’s easier than ever before to live a nomadic lifestyle, to swing from a hammock with a laptop and fill your social media feed with envy-inducing images of this perfect world you live in. But having survived and worked on the move for a tickle over ten and a half years I’d like to share some of the pitfalls, the struggles, the misconceptions and the solutions that have become an all-too-familiar part of my strange little microcosm.

I’d like to start this series of articles with a bit of background.

Yes, I’m an advocate of using social media as a hub for positivity (if you want a daily dose of depression just turn on the news or chat to the sad sack at the desk over there) but like any good friend you might hope for a solid reality-check in between the good times. Much of the below is probably generally helpful and some might be my own crap coming out to play. Either way, I needed to get it out and I hope you find it helpful.

On the face of it I have an awesome life, in reality as well as online. But despite this I still wing it every single day, I’m still working everything out and don’t think this will ever stop. I get scared and nervous and in my weaker moments really care way too much about what other people think. And yes, I’m better than most at pretending I don’t care, and often I don’t. But I still hurt and compare and get fiercely bothered by things, yet I’ve learned how to manage a lot of stuff and channel my grumpy moments. I guess that just comes with practice.

I attribute much of my success to the moment when I stopped caring about what might go wrong. Planning life is so overrated and when you reduce expectation you also reduce the chance of disappointment or likelihood of feeling let down.

I didn’t grow up in one place. It meant that relocating and getting on with people became a skill but building long-term friendships and relationships took a backseat.

Perhaps it isn’t such a surprise that I ended up peripatetic, but it doesn’t mean I’m resigned to being a professional flitter. On the contrary, I actively crave the solidarity of true friends, community and that one person who is just there no matter what. Which is awesome, except that I’ve been hard-wired to avoid this stuff since I was a tiny little ginger boy.

And now, just as I’m getting to grips with my own personal mechanics and learning to wield the adjustment tools that I hope are going to let my emotional intelligence catch up with the incredible picturebook experiences that have so far shaped my adult life, I’m in ever-increasing turmoil.

Let me start by sharing that it’s cool and I’m ok. I’m not depressed or eyeing up the nearest bridge or cliff face for a rope-less bungee (I’ve been through that phase and I’m not messed up because I once considered what it might be like if I decided to end it all), I’m just torn between worlds. Or, would you be the cynical type, I’m spoilt for choice and neither one is enough to sustain my joy on its own. I also know that this is exactly how a vibrant life should be — choosing a life of travel means choosing the ups and downs that come with it, and the answer is to find a pleasant medium.

I’m sorry to break it to you but you can’t be ambitious and constantly happy at the same time.

Letting go of the expectations placed upon us and living according to how we feel means both a much higher median level of contentment and a roller coaster awaits. There are crushing lows when we step out into the abyss and it is these we always seek to avoid by listening to worries and the advice of those killjoys who are going to validate those fears. But the heart-bursting, life-defining highs that we dream of don’t come along without that risk, either.

For anyone considering or already experiencing life as a digital nomad, an adventurer, a travel writer or a freedom-chasing wanderer, here’s the stuff that you don’t read about on the home pages of your peers. It’s not to frighten or bring in the demons — there’s a reason you’re attracted to a new way of spending your time and so many of the downsides are worth the fight. But if you want to leave your old life behind, prepare to have your world turned upside down.

Over the next two weeks I’m going to share a post each day, covering all the aspects of life that I’ve struggled with over the years: loneliness, relationships, living out of a bag, making my living from a laptop, staying true to myself, reducing expectation, being present, social media and the new-age distraction/ attention problems of this modern world, and more.

Below is a list of the articles. I’ll link to each one once it becomes live. Some may be basic and some of it brutally honest which undresses me entirely, and while I know some of this will probably earn me some lovers and haters I no longer care (much) if I’m judged for being me. I’m not seeking authenticity — this should (should!) be a default, I just realised that I’ve been selective with my sharing and it has been to my own detriment.

I just hope that there’s something below that makes a difference to you.

Home & Away

When the grass is always greener, how can you balance the comfort of familiarity with the urge to travel?

Will this ever end?

When the biggest challenge of your life starts to loom out of control, how do you decide whether to continue or quit?

Choosing your currency

How to decide between the temptation of freedom versus working towards the security of a consistent income.

But, I’m terrified!

The difficulty of quashing a fear of the unknown and how to stop being scared of having an awesome life.

The Resistance of Change

When the ones you love are the ones who hold you back…

Tick tock

The threat of ageing, and how to ensure your youth is not lost as the years pass by…

I’m a tortoise

The pros and cons of carrying your home on your back and creating a living out of travel

Life Is Not Like Instagram: That lonely feeling

From social exclusion to embarking on a quest that leaves you in unusual territory, loneliness hits us in so many ways.

Damn you, Cupid

The difficulty of maintaining long-distance relationships and deciding what freedom means when it comes to love.

What do you stand for?

The bravest thing you can do is accept that you’re different from everyone else. Understand your personal values and stick to them ruthlessly.

FOMO (fear of missing out)

As you travel the world back home continues on without you, so how do you avoid being a long lost soul…

Same old story

As a professional speaker, how to master the art of avoiding boredom in repetition.

Mind vs Body

Having lived with pain rather than fixing it for three years, how to know when enough is enough.

Swimming Against the Tide

Call it getting out of the box or living life on your own terms, but if swimming downstream is tough work, imagine going the other way.

Mmmm, cheese

Maintaining a healthy diet when constantly on the move takes some discipline, or do you have to care?

From One Man Band to Leader

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced creating a brand, a career and an income around yourself, but then started to lead a team? Man, that’s hard, and so far I haven’t been very good at it.

Is there something else that you’d like to see in this list? What have I missed out? Leave me a comment below or drop me a line through Facebook.

Share my journey on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram (which sometimes even shows the bad stuff)

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store