Issue #3 · A New City Every Month: An Experiment in Change

Beyond having the opportunity to travel to some unforgettable bucket list destinations, nomading has also provided me with this interesting opportunity to experiment with change.

If you were anything like me as a kid, you’ll remember getting that random yet irresistible urge to rearrange your entire bedroom every couple of months. I’d spend entire afternoons testing out new combinations of furniture and decor, precariously dragging around bookcases twice my height, always risking getting in trouble for putting too many push-pin holes in the walls.

I performed at least a dozen bedroom makeovers during my childhood, and whenever I found that perfect new arrangement — bed rotated 90 degrees, dresser slid six feet to the right, posters hung equidistant from the window — it would feel like an entirely brand new room. I just loved that fresh-start feeling that came with mixing things up.

The funny thing is, as an adult, not much has changed. In fact, these days, I actually do have an entirely new room every couple of weeks.

Since moving out of my San Francisco apartment two years ago, I’ve been living permanently on the road, moving to a new city about once a month. I’ve rotated between living in cozy studio apartments, cookie-cutter hotel rooms, massive houses shared with friends, and Airbnbs of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention, the view out my bedroom window has also fluctuated between everything from a Costa Rican jungle to a Turkish mosque to a Chilean desert.

So beyond having the opportunity to travel to some unforgettable bucket list destinations, nomading has also provided me with this interesting opportunity to experiment with change — because it’s as if every time that plane touches down in a new country, I enter an entirely new chapter of life.

Sure, it’s understandable why I’d feel more relaxed in a small beach town than in a massive chaotic city, but it’s so much more than just a little mood swing. From place to place, I feel an undeniable drastic shift in my personality, energy, ambitions and happiness: Mexican Emily was a fearless social butterfly, yet Colombian Emily was an introverted workhorse. Hungarian Emily was an anxious mess, while Portuguese Emily immediately felt at ease.

These changes in personality are not intentional, nor phony. It’s actually quite unpredictable and after two years, still catches me off guard. It’s become a fascinating psychological experiment, trying to guess which version of myself I’ll become when I arrive in the next spot. And I’m not alone — I pitched this idea about how I “accidentally reinvent myself” in each place to a group of my travel friends, and they couldn’t have been nodding in agreement any stronger.

Simply put, we’re all products of our environment. And when your environment changes every 30 days — the city, the people, the home, the climate — you might just feel like an entirely new person, too. This roller coaster lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone, and I’m not going to do it full-time forever. But right now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world (nor for any high-paying cubicle job). It feels like I’ve unlocked some sort of time-warp cheat code to be able to squeeze a thousand different lives into just a few short years.

Being aware of the massive impact that my immediate surroundings have on me has been a useful tool during tougher times, too. Now, whenever I’m feeling down, I know that even a small change of scenery can help get me out of that rut. Have you ever swapped an overhead fluorescent light for a warm, orange-hued nightstand lamp and felt immediately more at peace? Nomading is really just a more powerful version of that same phenomenon.

For most people, major life changes come around maybe once every 5 or 10 years. But life on the road changes fast — who knew you could be nostalgic for April when it’s still only August? In the series finale of The Office, Ed Helms’ character says a line that gives me the chills every time I hear it:

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the “good ol’ days” before you’ve actually left them.”

Well, it seems that I’ve inadvertently found a way to almost do just that, because nomading forces you to really savor all of these flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonder, month-long stages of life since chances are, you’ll never be in that exact city, in that exact home, with that exact group of friends ever again. It’s a heavy thought to sit with, but one that definitely makes you appreciate the moment.

I really don’t mind that my adult life has turned out to be way more disjointed than expected. Because rather than one big blur, now I have super specific memories from each distinct chapter. Plus, when the only thing that remains constant is my favorite red tank top that’s always packed in my suitcase, it’s exciting to find out what lies around the next turn: Will I suddenly be an outdoorsy thrill-seeker or a couch potato bookworm? Perhaps I’ll take up woodworking or maybe become a black belt in taekwondo?

I guess I’ll just have to book the next flight and find out.

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Here’s a list of every issue if you want to keep reading!

  • Issue #16: Embracing the Blank Canvas [Sep 2023]

  • Issue #15: In Pursuit of an Endless Summer [Aug 2023]

  • Issue #14: Follow Me to Weird Places [Jul 2023]

  • Issue #13: Self-Inflicted Social Overload [Jul 2023]

  • Issue #12: Schlepping It 🎒 [Jun 2023]

  • Issue #11: Finding My “Next Thing” [Jun 2023]

  • Issue #10: Book the Damn Flight and Just Go [May 2023]

  • Issue #9: Choosing Your Own Life Adventure [May 2023]

  • Issue #8: Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat [May 2023]

  • Issue #7: My First Month of Indie Making: An Honest Review [Feb 2023]

  • Issue #6: Ten Years of Making Money on the Internet [Jan 2023]

  • Issue #5: The Modern-Day Mission Trip [Dec 2022]

  • Issue #4: Ready, FIRE!, Aim [Nov 2022]

  • Issue #3: A New City Every Month: An Experiment in Change [Aug 2022]

  • Issue #2: Defining My North Star as a Nomad [Dec 2021]

  • Issue #1: One Year on the Road: Looking Back [Oct 2021]