LOVE…AND LOCATION INDEPENDENCE
Love…and location independence
Coworkation is a project that holds very close to my heart yet I feel certain that I will never write anything as personal as this post. Will I even publish it? Right now, I’m not sure, although I do feel as though the topic I am about to write about raises some important, and rarely discussed, issues surrounding the location independent lifestyle. The issues of romance and love.
I sit here writing this on the terrace of a typical Catalan masia (country house) overlooking hills, trees and shrubs, where the nearest neighbours are 1km away and the only sound to be heard is from the birds. And as I write tears are rolling down my cheeks. Why do I cry? I have just broken up with my girlfriend…somebody who I loved, and still love, with all my heart.
I escaped the city of Barcelona a few days ago. I needed to get out of the city which held memories and where she was so close…yet so distant. I didn’t want to see people laughing, nor see couples holding hands, cuddling and kissing. I wanted to come somewhere remote…where I could yell with anguish or cry uncontrollably with nobody hearing or judging me. I wanted to go to a place where I could find some peace (although I don’t think that place exists right now). Somewhere where I could eat healthily and do exercise. Away from temptations to drown my sorrows, and help get my mind right.
I don’t feel like socialising. I don’t want to put on a pretend happy face…because I feel far from that, right now.
Thankfully, I am able to get out to this remote place…because I am location independent. This is a stark contrast to her. She has a full-time job with a company that offers her no freedom whatsoever. Where she has to check in at 7.30am and work until 3.30pm…and beyond. How does she do it? I know she is as equally distraught, in her own way, as what I am. How can she concentrate on the tasks at hand, put on a smiley face to her colleagues, put aside her sadness and do what needs to be done? I know how much I would struggle.
I feel pain imagining her sitting in that office…trying to get through the day as best she can. I know her managers will give her no space. They will demand the same tasks to be completed and with a level of efficiency that enables standards, and targets, to be met. Who can blame them? They too, feel pressure from their managers to hit their targets.
This is one of the problems with many companies. They are driven by results…and expect their workers to achieve results…no matter what. In essence, they ask you to be a robot. They expect you to ignore your emotions, control them, and get back to work. Easier said than done! It’s inhumane. And it’s ineffective.
How productive have I been of late? Not at all! Yet I am lucky that it’s my own company and I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck. That would simply compound my pain. She doesn’t have that freedom. She simply has to put her head down and get back to work in the best way she can. I admire her capacity to do that.
Our story started off as a holiday romance. Although it quickly became evident that it was much more than that. I’ve had holiday romances before and know what they feel like. I knew this was something different, something very special. So, since I was location independent, I didn’t board the flight that I had to Australia…instead, I booked a flight to see her in Barcelona. After all, I could…and, as much as I wanted to spend time with my family and friends in Australia, my heart yearned to be with her. So to Barcelona I went.
People say that being location independent makes love and relationships more difficult. I disagree Yes, being location independent gives you more freedom to travel. If you desire to exercise that freedom to eternally travel and keep moving then, yes, it is more difficult. However, that is not what location independence is all about. It’s not about travel…it’s about freedom. The freedom to decide to be where you want to be. And sometimes, and in my case, you want to be where your partner is. She was in Barcelona. So I wanted to be there. If she wanted to go back to her country of Mexico…well, ok, twist my arm, let’s go! Heck, I would have gone to Mongolia should she have wanted to go there!
This doesn’t mean one should sacrifice their own life for somebody. However, my willingness to be where she wanted/needed to be came naturally. I have a curiosity for the world, am flexible, and can feel happy in different locations. And, most importantly, I am location independent.
It wasn’t always that I was willing to follow my partner In my previous long-term relationship I wasn’t so flexible. I had my freedom…and my freedom was for me. I was going to pursue my dreams and where those dreams would take me. I didn’t do justice to the needs of my girlfriend. I learnt a life-changing lesson after that painful separation. Location independence has enormous potential to bring happiness…but only if we use it properly. The freedom that we have, as location independent individuals, should not be used only for our own individualistic gratification.
I think this is where the problems stem from those digital nomads and location independent professionals that complain about it being difficult to sustain a relationship. When we find freedom for ourselves through location independence we tend to get excited about its potential to enrich our own lives. “Wow, how exciting is my year ahead! I am going to Asia for 5 months, Europe for 4 months and Sth America for 3 months!” Fantastic. However, as amazing as travel is, there is more to life than just seeing the world.
At the end of the day we receive more happiness from relationships than new experiences. That is why, as location independent people, we should never get too carried away with the travel potential that we are blessed with. Right now, I would happily forego travel, to be together with the one I love.