I often oversimplify my journey to van life and entrepreneurship with a sentence that goes something like this: I quit my NYC non-profit job after becoming disheartened with international development work, backpacked around Asia to do some soul searching, then bought a van, hit the road and started building an online business.
The truth is, the “why” was a lot more complex than that.
I think it can be dangerous to fast-forward through the messy guts of our stories, especially when the unabridged version might offer valuable lessons or insights to others in similar circumstances.
So I want to be transparent about my decision to quit my 9-5 to be a digital nomad. It wasn’t your classic tale of “something was just missing from my life, and I knew there had to be more out there than chasing the American Dream.
My van life story truly begins from a break-down, and becoming a digital nomad was a subsequent career choice born out of necessity.
I was sitting at my desk in early January of 2017 when an intense pain in my core and sudden bout of nausea caused me to run to the bathroom and throw up. Tests later determined I had stomach ulcers, most likely induced by stress.
A few days later I was on the C train during my morning commute when a wave of dizziness overcame me and swallowed my vision. I woke up on the cement floor, my face hugging a metal pole on a subway platform that was not my usual stop. I had fainted, my stress now loudly manifesting into physical symptoms.
The following day, I showed up to work knowing something needed to change. I left the office for lunch and called my mom. I leaned against the brick wall of a nearby building for support as the words started to flow out of me, filling in all the pieces of the puzzle I had been hiding.
Not only was I overworked and underpaid, like most people in the non-profit sector (which is another story unto itself), but I was also being harassed by my married boss, the CEO and founder of the organization. (Story continued on my blog, link in my bio under “latest blog post”).