What It’s Like to Be Allergic to Permanence

Zoë Björnson
Mar 3, 2016 · 5 min read

*This post is a brain fart of why the heck I’m on Remote Year. You can see my itinerary for the year below:

I graduated from college in May of 2014. That summer I traveled around Europe and learned about myself. I made best friends. In October I took a job with a company based in San Francisco, which wasn’t exactly my “plan.” I wanted to get out and live somewhere unfamiliar. Since then you could say I’ve been a little indecisive about where to “settle down.”

I thought about moving to Austin. I didn’t. I spent 4 months in New York, a month in Denver. I went to Aruba. I mainly lived at home, with my parents — and enjoyed it.

But during my time in New York, when I was this close to signing a lease in Brooklyn, something shifted. I got scared of actually putting my roots somewhere. But — why?

It all began with a dinner that got me out of my comfort zone.

I arrived (early, of course) to a Greek restaurant on the Lower East Side for one of Liang Shi’s, who is now a friend, #FUNFUNDINNERS. At the time, all I knew about Liang and her passion for experiences was this interview, written by my colleague Anna Lizaur.

I was excited, but of course nervous — who has dinner with 9 strangers?

Liang handed us all crayons and a sheet of paper with questions. Amongst them:

“If you were a color, what would you be?”

“What are you starving for?”

What was I starving for? Greek food, maybe. Other than that… something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. So we talked and we ate and I thought.

I had just gone through what I’d later define as my “pitfall” of my summer in New York City — a week of stress due to a housing situation that fell through. A week that made me feel like a real adult in real life. I wasn’t used to that.

I scooped up hummus and tzatziki, while the question lingered in my mind.

What was I starving for?

This “pitfall” forced me to do an audit of my life. Did I want to stay in New York City right now? Was Brooklyn the place for me? I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely for my company, so why was I settling down in a city I couldn’t really afford?

Then, you could say, it came to me.

I was starving for consistency mixed with adventure. Consistent adventure.

If you know me at all, you know that I love to travel. I feel most myself when I’m in a country I’ve never been to.

This love was instilled in me from a very early age. Maybe it’s because my mother took a trip to London right before I was born, enduring seemingly endless morning sickness just so she could wander the streets and museums. Maybe it’s because my father moved to Los Angeles when I was nine years old and being on a plane every month is just normal to me. Maybe it’s because my grandparents raised my aunts and uncles in Saudi Arabia and vacationed in spots like Copenhagen and China. Or maybe it’s because I spent summers in France and a semester abroad in Copenhagen. Either way, I’m fortunate enough to have been able to see the world.

Whatever sparked it, I have wanderlust.

It was around this time of the “pitfall” that Remote Year opened up applications for their next program. It felt like, well, serendipity.

It had been almost a year since I heard about the program from a friend, the lovely Ali Vitali. When she told me about it, things like “This would be perfect for you!” and “This is my jam.” were expressed. I never thought it’d be a reality. It seemed too unreal.

Then I applied.

Then I got waved to the next round with a more serious application.

Then I had an interview.

Then I got an email saying that I was “in.”

Then I cried.

Why did I cry? I cried because this is without a doubt, a dream of mine manifested. I’ve always wanted to work abroad. I’d always wanted to try to find a job that paired my love of travel with my loves of technology and people. Little did I know, I could morph my job into one that let me travel the world.

Remote Year came at the right place at the right time. I was feeling antsy. I didn’t know if New York was right for me and didn’t want to make a permanent decision. I didn’t know if I should go back to San Francisco, for a variety of reasons. In a nutshell, I felt that I was allergic to permanence.

I couldn’t decide on anything, but I could decide on consistent adventure, which is exactly what Remote Year provides me.

Some people have asked me why I chose to go on Remote Year, why didn’t I travel on my own?

To those people, I’d like to ask: Have you ever worked remotely? Have you ever talked out loud to yourself in the middle of the day just because you literally hadn’t talked to anyone that day, except for on Slack?

There’s something to be said about real human beings coming together for something — whether that’s working together or just working in the same vicinity. Remote Year provides me with the community of like-minded people that I have been craving for a year and a half. I now have 75 potential best friends who just get me. And I’ve known them for 3 days.

So that’s what it’s like to be allergic to permanence.

You’re antsy, but you want consistency. You can’t decide on anything but you can decide on one thing that gives you everything. You can’t be in one place for more than a month or so, but you can be with the same people for a year. Not to mention the same clothes.

Chronicles of a Zomad

Stories from life on Remote Year.

Zoë Björnson

Written by

Producer at @beyond. Previously at @aboutdotme. Did the @remoteyear thing.

Chronicles of a Zomad

Stories from life on Remote Year.