Why I’m finally giving in to fixed life envy

July 20, 2012 in Career,Life,Philosophy

As soon as I said I was moving to New York, my friends and family seemed to breathe a giant sigh of relief. Right, she’s finally settling down. Maybe it’s across the country, but it’s in the country. Good, it’s time for you to get a real job.

At first, I was a little affronted: this could just be another live-in-a-new-city experience! I could hop off to South America or New Zealand or the Middle East at any time. I wasn’t making any promises to stay in a city that I’ve only visited once, before I even entered high school.

But then I realized that in my heart, I agreed with them. I’ve complained about my fixed life envy. I’ve yearned for a closet in which to unpack my suitcase, a cafe in which the barista knows my name and order, a paycheck magically appearing in my bank account every two weeks. And in college (perhaps after a few glasses of wine and a Sex and the City marathon), I swore to myself that one day, I’d live and work in New York City.

So many bloggers and freelancers strike out on their own as a sort of backlash against feeling trapped in their cubicles, held by their mortgages, resenting a life that they feel they had no choice in creating. They’re motivated by that fire, a fire of not ever wanting to step foot back in an office. However, I’ve had incredible work experiences: ones in which I felt valued, and where I laughed with and learned from my supervisors (almost) every day.

I’ve enjoyed the freedom to set my own hours and my own deadlines for the past eight months, but I’ve also realized I don’t have the drive, the experience, the connections to be a successful freelancer or web entrepreneur. Is it possible to be a full-time travel blogger, to earn an income remotely? Absolutely. But honestly–I just want to travel, to write, to take photos. And I want to do it because I enjoy it, not because I’m desperate for it to pay the bills.

I know that this is my life. These are my decisions. I’m responsible for my own happiness, wherever that may be. I’ve quit a secure, well-paying job before–twice–for the thrill of the unknown, the risk of a new places and new experiences far from home. If I start feeling trapped, I don’t have any qualms about having the courage to do it again.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about working in New York, if I wasn’t scared of being overwhelmed, overworked, overscheduled. It’s the city that defines ambition, and my priority is balance. I still have to find a job (with a company I’m passionate about and a salary that will pay the rent) and an apartment (with the right fit of roommates, neighborhood, size and a rent that I can afford) in an ultra-competitive job and ultra-expensive housing market.

But I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for a new work challenge, the thrill of meeting deadlines and making coworker friends and having a reason to buy new pencil skirts. The hunt for an exposed brick wall, the possibility of growing a window herb garden and splurging on a great set of kitchen knives. And the chance to do it all in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. 

  • AliciaC

    Wow! A great new adventure awaits you!  Good luck in your job/apartment hunt! Can’t wait to see  great New York City photos from you! :) 

  • It takes a whole new kind of bravery to first recognize this and then make it happen. I feel as though we’re often warned about the dull daily grind, and for those of us who do find a way to “escape,” to expand the boundaries of monotony, we are to told to hold onto it, savor it, never let it go; how lucky we are to not be stuck! But I am like you in that I’ve never desired to be a nomad. I live to travel and experience the world in every way I’m able, and yet I also need to have a place to call home, to come back to. New York is not an easy city, but I have no doubt you’re going to flourish there(/here) and hopefully you’re able to fall in love with it even more while you’re at it. As far as cities that continue to change, excite, and inspire, this is one of the best.

  • Just like you said, this too is a big adventure and just because you’ve decided to hang your hat somewhere slightly more permanently for a while, you can always give it all up again if and when the travel itch returns. I am just coming off of a 2-3 year domestic travel break and know exactly how you feel. I am now “over it” and ready to get back on the road, but it won’t last forever…but great to know you have the freedom to live the life YOU want, whether it’s in one place on on the road. Enjoy NYC! There’ll be no shortage of fun–I do hope we’ll continue to hear from you?

  • Might I add…..NYC might be the place where you find THE ONE? Maybe one sunny afternoon in the middle of Central Park? I mean, no pressure, but that would be quite the story. 

  • My dear, coming from a NYer, I guarantee you will not be disappointed!  As much as I love to travel, I’ve got to admit, I never mind flying back home.  Home is one of the best, top travel destinations in this world, and simply one of the best places to live in!  You couldn’t have picked a more perfect place!
    Yes there will be major stress, there will be frustrations with the MTA or trying to hail a cab, there’s the unpredictable weather, there’s the absurd amount of rent to pay with apartments the size of shoeboxes, time flies by so fast, and who knows what else.But there’s nothing like living in this city.  Whether you end up hating it or loving it, you’ll be rewarded with an experience like no other.  

  • KaleenasKaleidoscope

    I am SO glad you have shared this. I’m at a stage where I’m getting ready to embark on some big international adventures as well, and I’m starting to do the blogging thing, but I don’t see myself as a professional blogger/web entrepreneur in the long run. I’ve been wondering what the heck I’m supposed to do when I’m done with all the traveling adventures, but it’s great to see you in that very  boat and still flourishing by pursuing your dream of living in NYC, even though you don’t know what will come of it! It’s very inspiring and reassuring, and I hope that you have a blast on this new chapter of life! :)

  • Nothing wrong with the decision and no one is saying it is permanent – NY is a great to be for lots of places to travel to and you are SO much closer to Paris!  There is so much to do and see (and eat!) in NYC you will have a blast!  If I was single I would have the same dream!

  • Love that you share so much of your thought process that goes into these types of decisions. That goes to the point @legalnomads and many others mentioned from WDS – the power of vulnerability. Most aren’t comfortable enough with themselves to share these types of things so publicly..

  • camorose

    Thank you! I’m really looking forward to exploring the streets of NYC with my camera :)

  • camorose

    Love that last line–I don’t think New York is a city that you can get bored in, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for :)

  • camorose

    Of course! I’m looking forward to exploring the East Coast and Canada–and of course, I’m that much closer to Europe :) Lots to see and share!

  • camorose

    Finally think that I’m open to that possibility :)

  • camorose

    Yay hearing things like this always makes me so excited! Just a few weeks away!

  • camorose

    Thank you so much! I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my life and seeing how it all pans out :)

  • Sounds so exciting! Whenever I’m in NYC the energy of the place just pulls me in! I like to pretend like I’m a New Yorker, even if it’s just for a few short days at a time. 😉

  • This is great, Christine! Glad you’re following your gut to create the kind of life you’ve been longing for. Color me inspired.

  • Hey Kaleen what’s your blog’s web addresss? I’d love to hear about your adventures. I’m about to leave the country (in a week!!) and I’m going to be traveling around Europe and Asia for a year. Where will you be headed???

  • I think this will be a great decision for you. I’ve been following your blog since shortly after you arrived in Nice so long ago.  I always sensed you were more of a “home base” kinda person.  I first thought that would be France and then was convinced you’d stay in Australia. But choosing New York to make home for awhile is brilliant.  Great place for a job but also a vibrant thriving city.  Not only will the world come to you but it’s a good hub for travelling.  Good luck.

  • Christine, this is so exciting! Over the past few months I’ve learned that one really needs to do what feels right – and right now, it just seems to feel right to work in NYC for you, so following your intuition and jumping into this new adventure is the best decision you could have taken. I’ve only been twice to NY, but the feeling I’ve got is that, just like London – it’s the whole world in a city. I can’t wait to read about all the adventures on job hunting, apartment hunting and exploring this city sex-and-the-city style 😉 

  • Hi Christine, congrats on your decision! I’m a native New Yorker and love the city, and think that even with the challenges that may come from settling here, it’s well worth it. But I’ll say this, I don’t see this as “giving in” to anything. As a reader and admirer of your lifestyle, I only see this as your doing something you’ve been promoting through your site, being true to yourself and living your life on your own terms. Plus, (I hate how old I’ll sound when I say this), but you’re still super young (I have more than a few years on you). Even with a permanent move to New York City, you have plenty of transitions ahead of you. Whatever this new move brings to you, I’m sure it will be awesome, and I hope to read more about it on your site. We almost met up in Chiang Mai once, but hopefully one day I can buy you a latte for all the wonderful tips you shared that helped me on my own rtw trip. – Marilyn

  • I can really relate to this! I’ve been back in Sydney for eight months or so now and I almost feel like I’m betraying myself by kind of enjoying the fact that I’ve got a great job, a nice apartment, a great flatmate and spend my time doing ‘normal’ things…which were exactly the things that while I was away I said I didn’t want to do! 

    I still have seriously itchy feet and I’m trying to work out exactly how regular travel can fit into this ‘normal’ life of mine…it does my head in! But like you sometimes I wonder whether I truly have the drive and motivation to be a successful freelancer and if I really actually want to be location independent. 

  • This post makes me so happy! It’s nearly word for word how I feel about my life in Sydney. Of course, I do sometimes wonder if I will get travel-envy, but like I’ve said before I know that I’ll never stop traveling. 

    Good luck with New York and enjoy the rest of your trip at the moment! Can’t wait to see how things start to pan out!

  • Sounds great Christine!  Good luck with everything, loving that you’re doing what you want to do :-)

  • how exciting! I can definitely commiserate on trying to decide between a fixed lifestyle and that of a nomad. But you never know until you try something, right? :)

  • I just moved into a sublet apartment in Toronto for 5 months and wow it feels great! I love not having to unpack, being nomadic is not for me!

  • camorose

    Can’t wait to be there and see how I like it all–sounds like it has SUCH an awesome energy!

  • camorose

    Awww thank you :) We’ll see how it all works out!

  • camorose

    Definitely a homebase kind of person–just looking for the right base! Certainly hoping NYC is it, at least for a bit :)

  • camorose

    It does seem to be a bit like a-whole-world-in-a-city, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to be closer to Europe as well–I have a good friend in London, so if I ever get the chance to pop over, I’ll let you know :)

  • camorose

    So great to hear from you, Marilyn! I think that’s the tough part–knowing that I have the whole world at my fingertips makes it tough to listen to exactly what my heart is telling me. I’m always a bit worried about making the “wrong” choice but when it comes down to it–every choice just adds another layer. We’ll see how everything works out!

  • camorose

    The grass is always greener, isn’t it? I think the biggest thing is having a travel attitude even when you’re staying still–seeking out new activities, restaurants, people. And weekend trips! I do love the weekend trips :)

  • camorose

    Thank you! So glad you’re settling so nicely into life in Sydney–I’ve got a few coffee places on tap to try in NYC, but I don’t know if anything will match the wattle moccacino!

  • camorose

    Thank you! Looking forward to seeing where this next adventure takes me :)

  • camorose

    Exactly! Worst that happens is you don’t like it and you make a chance :)

  • camorose

    Haha I don’t know how you did it girl! Don’t think I would have lasted nearly as long!

  • Victoria

    Good for you for recognizing that this is what you want to do. I think the Internet often portrays being ‘location independent’ as being the best lifestyle, but that’s not necessarily true for everybody. I’ve been nomadic fo a while but I am always torn between my desire to travel and my desire to put down roots. My main problem is choosing a place I would want to settle- I am envious you get to live in New York!! I absolutely fell in love with the place but not a U.S citizen unfortunately!

  • Good for you! I’m sure you’ll make a great life for yourself in New York, for as long as you want it to last. Very excited for you, and hope it works out to meet up for a coffee or something when I’m in town later this fall. Wishing you all the best on your quest for the right job and apartment.

  • Congrats on your new job and making the decision to settle for a little while. I had to make the decision recently of whether or not to settle down and in the end I chose to take a job in London and get my first flat. It was a tough decision, especially with every blogger out there raving about the location independent lifestyle but I found that it wasn’t for me, not right now anyway.

    I find that living in a new city feels a lot like travelling and if you change your mind there’s nothing stopping you packing your bags and moving on when you feel ready.

  • Good to read this Christine :)
    There’s nothing wrong in choosing the life you want. Sounds like what I chose to do too, except that I’m in Chiang Mai 😉

  • Kudos to you. You have remarkable self-insight and maturity. It’s nice seeing someone have the self-awareness and flexibility to go back and forth between these two lives. I think when the first wave of career-breaking or laid-off freelancers and bloggers came in 2008 to 2010, there was a feeling that moving to this lifestyle would be permanent. It is for some, it isn’t for others. It doesn’t mean you’ve given up, sold out, etc. — it means it’s the right time for you to try something different again.

  • camorose

    That was a big reason why I decided on NYC–all of my English and Aussie friends were absolutely in love with the place and would kill to work there. Figured I should take advantage of my nationality for once!

  • camorose

    Definitely! Please let me know when you’re in town, I’d love to grab a coffee.

  • camorose

    Ha! No job yet–still looking for that one :) But I am enjoying life in NYC and totally looking forward to putting down roots in an apartment for a while!

  • camorose

    And geez, after reading James’ post–what I would do for the cost of living in Chiang Mai! Might just have to come back (if NYC doesn’t suck me dry first)…

  • camorose

    Thanks, Lauren–very kind words. Really enjoyed your recent piece on travel blogger burnout–it’s certainly not the dream for everyone!

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