Psst…at the end of this blog I’ll tell you a secret about my book
Our social media lives are overrun with #vanlife bliss. Instagram is saturated with photos of gorgeous male/female couples who live in their $60,000 Sprinters, which cost them another $30,000 to convert, and spend their lives traveling the world and making money online. In their pictures they’re always laying in beds with pretty blankets in the back of their van, their limbs entwined with one another, gazing out the open back doors at the stunning vista.
Life, it seems, is perfect and beautiful and bliss-filled.
But is it real? Or is it social media bullshit?
I refuse to believe that all those people are genuinely happy 100% of the time. If you’re living in a van with your partner, then you’re getting on each other’s nerves. There’s no doubt about that.
But are they really living in those vans…? It’s a weird question to ask, right? But I ask it because I recently came across a company on Instagram that rents vans to people for #vanlife photoshoots. You know where I’m going with this one. People (remember those beautiful male/female couples?) are renting pre-pimped-out vans, doing photoshoots, and portraying to all of us via Instagram that they’re vanlifers. Meanwhile, after the pictures are taken, they return their rented van and go back to their rented apartment.
I’m most definitely NOT saying there aren’t lots of legit vanlifers out there, but I am saying that we’re a very gullible society.
Yesterday alone I had two different nomad friends message me for advice on their overwhelming feelings of aloneness. It still shocks me when people ask ME for advice; like they think I actually have my shit together.
However, it’s really something that not many people, including nomads, talk about – that sense of being lonely while traveling. And do you ever see photos of THAT on Instagram? No, of course you don’t. Because we live in a society where we believe that every other person except us has it all figured out. And those of you who stay put want to believe that those of us who move around are living these happy, care-free lives.
The truth is – we are.
And we’re not.
Being a nomad is challenging in a variety of ways. We sacrifice daily comforts that others take for granted (what I would give for a toilet in the Jeep or a shower on my sailboat….). Some nomads live in staff housing where’s there’s no privacy. Other’s live in their vehicles where there’s no companionship. We bond quickly, soldiers on the battlefield of life, and then we say goodbye, having no idea when the current of our crazy lives will wash us back to the same beach.
I spent last night messaging back and forth for hours with a co-worker, and while we both still currently work for the same company, and have technically worked together for five seasons, we’ve always been on different boats, which means we rarely have spent any time together over the years. He’s a nomad and a writer and reached out for advice on starting a blog. As nomads, we very quickly jumped into the nitty, gritty of traveling and how we both experience the same “problem” – people telling us that we live the “dream life”.
Like I said: yes, we do. But no, we don’t.
Everyone seems so reluctant to talk about the dark side of being a roamer. Why is that? It’s not that we’re being negative when we voice our challenges, because we totally and completely understand how blessed we are to live the lives we do. What we’re doing by talking about the darkness…is being REAL. Being real, genuine people who choose to not bullshit our way through life or cover our hardships with a smile (though I am very, very guilty of that one).
I went to a concert in the city last week and four separate people approached me and introduced themselves. They all said basically the same thing – that they recognized me from my blog or from my time with Sea Shepherd and they wanted to tell me how inspiring I am. I am in no way ungrateful for their kind words, but I still find it a bit awkward when people say things like that to me. I never know what to say when people actually thank me for putting myself out there on this wild web of internet. I get super weird and uncomfortable and fidget like a 14 year old. Overhearing one of these conversations at the concert, my good friend wrapped her arms around me and whispered in my ear: “just say you’re welcome”.
So I did.
The fact that these people find me inspiring is inspiring to me. The majority of the time I feel like a complete fuck-up who’s circling the drain of life, but the words they used to describe me were “raw and honest” and “empowering and inspiring”. And I suppose they’re right. In my adult life, I’ve never been one to shy away from my feelings, and I’ll pretty much tell you whatever you want to know with no sense of shame.
Why hide it? Why be ashamed of it? Whatever IT is for you, it made you who you are. Own it. Because you’re rad in your own way.
So, that’s why I’m starting a magazine, along with my buddy, for nomads (how many of you actually read this whole blog and now have possession of this little tidbit of info that is not yet public knowledge?); a publication that will focus on the real, raw truth; on the beauty, and the shitty.
Life is wild, man. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re the only one who feels lost. Even those who are firmly planted in rich soil can feel lost, alone, and scared.
So let’s not bullshit each other. Say what you feel, mean what you say.
Because as my friend Rob told me once – “life never ceases to amaze those who challenge it to do so.”
Are you ready for that secret? How many of you skipped straight to the end? It’s cool, man. I would’ve, too.
The title of this blog is the new title for my book, which I’m planning to release in February 2018.
Until then, stay real.