As we start from home together

It is absolutely the most comforting thing to realize that nearly all the other Remotes I’ll be journeying with are going through the same process right now that I am.

We are all saying the same sorts of goodbyes. I am saying goodbye to the family cats and I know that I am their favorite human, regardless of what the rest of the family thinks. I am saying goodbye to the annoying coworker that I am utterly relieved I will no longer have to see every day — will there come a point when I reluctantly realize I miss that annoyance? I am saying goodbye to people at the office whom I suddenly see as partners-in-arms, nearly — promising to send a million food pictures and check in with video calls constantly. I am saying goodbye to close friends and jovial acquaintances and my family and my home.

The process of getting into Remote Year was surprisingly easy for me. Within moments of reading the Remote Year ad on Facebook, I read through the overview on the website, found the price ($2000 a month), and consciously decided that it was probably too expensive and a waste of money. I also in those same moments did the mental budgeting that comes far too easily for a single adult male with no mortgage, and subconsciously decided that this was going to happen…

Each of us Remotes has made our lists of necessities, and luxuries, and agonized over how much is too much and what we will miss the instant we arrive. We have packed 20 kilograms or less of those lists into luggage, after watching 15 YouTube videos on perfectly optimized packing techniques and then giving up halfway through, angrily jamming a towel and a favorite book into the last open corner before the zipper can be clinched shut. We have the new cell phones that we splurged on, and when they get dropped in the ocean (not too soon, we pray) we have the old cell phones with cracked screens. We have a strange towel that everyone on the internet said was the best and 10 other travel gadgets we probably spent too much on.

By the time I consciously realized what my subconscious was doing, I was ready to rationalize this leap of faith and see where it would take me. A few weeks later, I had completed an initial application, a written application, and a video interview, and was being congratulated on my offer of a spot in Remote Year “Earhart” which was to kick off in Croatia at the end of May. It was all very polite and efficient and my response to the offer was probably the least jubilant my admission counselor had seen to date. It hadn’t sunk in yet!

We Remotes have all loosened the tether our jobs have on us, for better and for worse. For some of us it took a lot of persuading of our bosses. We are accepting the price of missing out on some of the “water cooler” office perks, and accepting the price of extra effort scheduling and connecting with the people we have to keep working with from around the world. It’s a price we’re willing to pay, because there are some terrific upsides, for us as remote workers (can you say “WiFi on the beach”?) and even for our employers (can you say “hiring the best talent from around the world?”).

The premise of Remote Year is that we can do the same job we’ve been doing, from anywhere in the world, as long as we have internet access. It seems oddly conflicting, to presume that we can uproot parts of our lives that are based in where we are and transplant them to entirely new cultures each month, but keep performing the same jobs to the same specifications. But we do have many Remotes who have gone before us and done so — to their enthusiastically vocal benefit. I know that it’s possible because we are committing to support each other, and even to be a new home to each other.

This old home I’ve spent my time in imposed its shape on me in profound ways, and only occasionally do I catch a glimpse of myself from the corner of someone else’s eye and realize just how differently molded I am.

I have the opportunity to seek those glimpses out and come to a better understanding of my true shape.

I intend to make the most of it.