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4 Life Lessons From My First 2 Months of Being Nomadic

Watch out for the tiny pirate!

It’s been over two months since the last time I paid rent, getting rid of nearly everything I own before traveling from place to place, and it has been some of the most eye-opening experience of my life. Here are a few of the things that have been driven home in that short stint.

Social Interactions Are The Most Important Thing

For a long time I’ve said “It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, it’s who you do it with”, but this has opened up entirely new levels of meaning for me. A huge portion of my life now is planning. Finding plane tickets, places to stay, ways to get internet, staying in contact with people all over the world to make sure I don’t arrive in the wrong country with no way to find my way around. This means a portion of every day is spent in email or social networks planning things out with a combination of friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers.

A constant flow of communication is needed in order to make sure everything comes together, as people have different schedules and priorities. Nothing ever comes together exactly as planned (that’s part of the fun), but if everything falls apart, it’s disappointing to everyone. It quickly became clear that these conversations are just social interactions that help other social interactions happen. They are both means and end. Regardless of whether you are getting together to talk about an important business opportunity or just catching up with an old friend, the fact that you are both there talking to each other is what counts, and sometimes things just can’t progress until that happens.

Leadership Should Never Be Taken For Granted

Over the course of my life I’ve had three full etiquette courses (it’s a long story, but suffice to say I know how to hold every kind of wine glass, where a fish knife is placed, and what to do when you reach a revolving door), and this has put me in a mindset of deferment to others’ preferences. I try to figure out the best option to make everyone happy, and lead people down that direction.

Sometimes, however, people just don’t care which option they take, and the ambivalence causes everyone to sit around debating. It took me a few times to figure it out, but I’ve begun picking something at random, being really excited about it, and leading everyone there. The instant you are excited about something, everyone else’s brain starts trying to figure out why you are excited, and they get excited in the process. It’s always led to fun adventures, and is infinitely better than just sitting around.

Really, you should try the democratic waiters in an open pagoda.

Everyone Has More In Common Than It Seems

I’ve been spending a lot of time at airports in forced interactions with other travelers as we work our way toward where we want to be, and around people that I would have quickly dismissed as having nothing in common with before I ever spoke to them. Each time I greet the other person as if they were a friend, with a smile and a question about themselves. Finding a kind person in a painful situation is always nice, and people open up to it quickly. I’m not saying some of the conversations haven’t been hilariously awkward, but none of them have been grumpy, and they usually end in smiles.

Before I would have been so stuck in my own problems in my head that I would have kept interactions to a minimum, but opening myself up to strangers I never would have bothered with before has given me some amazing stories, and helped out later when I ran into the same people elsewhere. Being “the guy who was nice on that horrible flight” is always a good introduction into a new social situation.

Learning Openly Is Extremely Satisfying

While I didn’t plan it up front, one of my big goals of this trip has become learning as much as possible about things that have always fascinated me. I took a SCUBA Open Water Certification course in Thailand, and now I can go diving anywhere in the world. I took a Japanese cooking course in Shanghai, and now I can make Red Miso Soup properly. I graduated from Bartending School and can now make over 150 drinks and do some impressive tricks with bottles and bartending tools. I studied card magic with English twins in China, and now the skill behind the tricks is far more exciting to me than watching magic ever was before. Impressing friends at a restaurant last night didn’t hurt, either.

None of these are things that I could ever justify squeezing into my life before, but now just a short time later I have some skill in all of them. I’m not an expert in any of them by any standard, but I’m better than the 99% of the world who have never done them. It doesn’t take long to learn a new skill, but you have to devote yourself fully to the little time that it takes, putting away all distraction. After that, it becomes easy to fit little bits of practice into your daily life and you will be highly skilled before you know it.

So, what’s something you’ve always been fascinated by? Writing? Parkour? Japanese? Take a moment and find someone who can teach you how to be better, then write them a quick friendly note asking how you can learn if you are willing to devote some time. You will never regret taking a moment to become skilled in something that fascinates you, and you might make a new friend for life.

If you were inspired, share this with your friends to inspire them.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Flightster, Chris Dame. Chris Dame said: 4 Life Lessons From My First 2 Months of Being Nomadic […]

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  2. Marya Zoya says:

    Awesome chris! I’m so excited to read about the next 10 months of your nomad life!!! xo

  3. Chris Dame says:

    Thanks! I’m excited to see what happens as well!

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