I knew it would happen someday, and becoming location independent wasn’t a dream I’d be able to let go easily. But now that it’s here, I’m scared! For some reason, I’m a little paralyzed, and so many doubts are popping up in my head.
They say that when you fear something, it’s a signal you must pay attention to. If it’s related to your dreams, it must mean it’s something you want deeply.
I could interview for a new job, stay in my apartment in San Francisco, and keep the happy life I have today with my close friends nearby. But something calls me to venture out of this comfort zone and see if I’ll sink or swim.
Soon, I’ll leave everything I know behind and start building a life that is fully remote. I’ll meet a new breed of people who are on a similar path, coworking and coliving in tech hubs around the world. I’ll put myself out there and grow my client base, consulting with companies and leaders whose visions align with mine. I’ll write for fun and share what I’m learning as I go.
Sounds doable, right?
I have nothing to lose. Worst case, I fall flat on my face, embarrass myself, run out of money, and come back to find a job. I am more than lucky to have the freedom to do this. So why am I afraid?
My 7 fears of coworking and coliving:
- I identify as an introvert. What if I hate giving up my personal space and being around people all the time? Coworking and coliving, or even staying in hostels and Airbnbs on getaways in between, can be exhausting. I’ll need to be “on” all the time – how would I unwind?
- On the other hand, what if it’s totally isolating? I’ll be away from my close friends and family, and traveling solo can be extremely lonely. I know I’ll meet so many people and form great connections, but they’ll sooner or later be on their way to the next destination. It’s hard to develop lasting relationships, and all of that time invested can be a waste.
- What if the experience doesn’t live up to my expectations? Or, what if I don’t live up to my own expectations and fail?
- What if these coworking and coliving spaces are full of Millennials who don’t want to graduate from dorm life? Or wannabe entrepreneurs running away from reality? Oh! What if I AM a wannabe entrepreneur? It’s true. Maybe I am, at this point in time.
- What if I’m not fulfilled by the freedom and autonomy of being location independent, traveling and working remotely? I may be romanticizing this remote lifestyle. What if I never find a city I love where I can feel settled? Fulfillment comes from within, and no amount of travel or exploration can “give” you fulfillment if you don’t cultivate it first within yourself.
- Similarly, what if I DO find more value in committing myself deeply to one team, one location, one role? There’s something special about being part of a team, throwing your heart into a mission, and immersing yourself in growing and advancing in your role.
- While researching destination and accommodation options, I’ve encountered severe anticipatory FOMO and paralysis of choice. I know I’ll have a great experience, but what if I miss out on another great experience, a great city, a great group of people to meet? For every choice I make, there are an infinite number of other life-changing possibilities.
It’s therapeutic to write down your fears.
Those are just a few of my fears. There are many, many more, but I won’t bore you. If you’re in a similar boat, you know how these fears can be utterly paralyzing. Or worse, they cause you to put in a half-hearted effort towards your goals because it’s easier to swallow failure when you didn’t try too hard.
My friend asked me, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I guess I don’t mind failing privately – but failing publicly, after putting myself out there… I don’t want people to judge me. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want to look like I’m wasting my time, efforts, or strengths. And he said, “Who cares if you look bad and fail in front of the select few who are paying attention? Again, what’s the worst that could happen?”
The number of people who would take enough time out of their day to judge or criticize is marginal compared to the vast number of people I could impact by putting myself out there. As long as I’m following my heart, I’m going to learn, grow, and hopefully be able to make a positive impact. And if not… At least I learned and grew.
I realized that it’s up to me to create the experience I envision and take action despite the fears. I also need to let go of my desire to control the outcome. Instead, I’ll trust the uncertainty and beautiful fluidity of this new chapter in life.
Throughout my entire life, it seems I’ve committed deeply to one thing at a time. My academics. Cross country and track and field. College. My job at Facebook. The next few startups I worked for. This next stage in my life is so much more uncertain. I get to define the work I do, the clients I work with, the places I live, and the people I surround myself with. Instead of committing to something for years, I’ll need to iterate and constantly make micro-decisions. Where should I stay this month? What should my next destination be? Which dream clients should I reach out to? What’s the best coworking space to make my home base? The entire world is a canvas I’m holding in my hands, and all I need to do is point and go.
That’s why it’s so terrifying.
This time, I may not be committing myself to one company, one role, one team… But I believe I AM committing deeply to designing a career around my life priorities, strengths, and values.
It may look more fluid and risky from the outside, but I must do this to start forging my way towards what could be the greatest inflection point of my life and career.