Follow me on my dedicated Facebook group : OptingOut! – The Art of Being Done With This Shit.
It is hard to believe that I am now six weeks in already – this nomadic lifestyle has grown on me so much, that I can no longer imagine living any other way. Much has happened; I have overcome some challenges, and I am facing new ones.
But before I go into that, a few words of gratitude are in order. Firstly, to Chris Doyle, who was kind enough to let me have his old charge controller. I now no longer have to remember to manually turn on and off my panels, and, more importantly, my batteries get charged at the correct rate and voltage, which will have a big impact on their lifespans. I should mention also that I am a complete stranger to Chris, so this was an act of true and genuine community spirit ! Secondly, a big thanks to Aivaras Bandaras, who let me have some of his old fishing gear – teaching myself how to fish will be one of my next projects, and that will enable me to become even more independent and self-sufficient. And last but not least – a huge thanks to Mandy Brasa, Rich Hanlon, and Damian Lilicrap, who all made donations via my website. You’re legends 😊
When I first conceived this project, it was about a lot more than just changing my living arrangements; it was about a complete change in outlook on life. I wanted to return to a truer, more genuine way to live; I wanted to build myself a life that has a purpose above and beyond just paying bills and following the rat race template. So I opted out – I gave up my fancy apartment and material possessions for the simplicity of my motorhome’s tiny space, but I also gave up my well-paid but exceedingly stressful corporate job. Instead, it was all along important to me to do something that had a deeper meaning, and not just a means to earn money. So, for the past fortnight, I gave the charity sector a try and took up a role with Amnesty International Ireland. This role involved travelling around Ireland as part of a small team, doing human rights advocacy work and on-street fundraising. It was a wonderful, but also very challenging experience. We visited various towns around County Kerry and Co Louth, just moving from one place to another, while staying in self-catering accommodation.
Approaching strangers on the street was something I had never done before, and, as a matter of fact, until not too long ago would never ever have considered doing. I am an INTP by personality type, and really quite introverted, so I am most definitely not the kind of person who just starts chatting to random people. It was hard in the beginning, but do you know what ? I did it. I set myself this challenge, to overcome my own introversion and shyness, and I succeeded. I stopped people on the street, and I spoke to them with passion and intensity. It was liberating for me, as are all acts that involve overcoming yourself and stepping outside of your own little comfort zone. This takes enormous effort and courage ( it did for me, at least ), but the rewards are valuable beyond description.
Nonetheless, the role did not work out for me in the end. For one thing, it was very hard to get back home on the weekends, since I was the team’s driver and hence had to drive everyone else around; also, the fundraising bit of the role was target based, and I just didn’t manage to raise enough funds to fulfil those targets. Speaking to strangers about human rights issues is one thing, but getting them to hand over their bank details ( even if they are in agreement with your cause ) is quite another, and that takes a special kind of skill that ultimately it turns out I do not have. Very few people do, in fact. So, at the end of the second week, we called it quits. I always knew I was going to take a chance with this role, but even though it didn’t work out, I regret absolutely nothing – it was a very valuable and worthwhile experience, and made me a little bit wiser and more rounded.
So here I am now – without a job, for the first time ever in my adult life. Rationally, I know I should probably panic right about now, but somehow I cannot get myself to do that. Yes, this is an existential threat – my savings are very limited and won’t last long -, but somehow I cannot help but think that this is also a great opportunity. I am completely free now, no longer really entangled in the rat race, with no bills to pay other than groceries, Internet, and keeping my van on the road. Surely, I can find ways to cover those needs without selling myself out to some employer once again ? And my quest for purpose and making a difference in the world is better served by volunteering, anyway.
So I am going to take a big chance now and try a new angle : I shall see whether or not I can make a living by freelancing. I am fluent in two languages, and very good at maths and physics, so surely that can be turned into money somehow – hence I have started to apply for online tutoring roles ( teaching languages via Skype etc etc ), and will also put my name out locally, in the hopes that there might be students looking for tutors. There are also other online freelancing opportunities, which I will try and pursue. I will furthermore keep an eye out for casual work in my local area, to supplement my income. At the same time, I will need to really minimise my outgoings, and focus everything down to the bare essentials.
Is this going to work out ? I have no idea. All I can say is that I rather rely on my own devices, than giving away my freedom again by taking up full-time employment. It’s worth a try. It would be brilliant to be able to earn a living from the freedom and comfort of my campervan, while pursuing volunteering in my free time. So I will give it a shot – if it doesn’t work, I will need to bite the bullet and go on unemployment benefits, and back to job hunting, both of which will be exceedingly hard in the absence of a fixed address. But I’ll take that hurdle when I get to it.
So at long last we have arrived at the big invisible elephant in the room – how to support yourself and earn a living while being a nomad out on the roads. It is precisely this which stops more people from opting out, and it is the challenge I am now up against. I knew I was going to face this one day, I just didn’t count on it happening so soon. So I wander on, and I am supposed to feel lost now, but I do not – I feel liberated, determined, and full of fresh new opportunities.
So stay tuned people – things are starting to get interesting here 😉