What’s the deal with nomads
“Nomad” was a word I discovered very recently applies to more than our prehistoric ancestors traveling from place to place in search of food & resources. Actually, the concept of “tech nomads” is quite similar to this, but of a different strain: instead of searching for the basic necessities we need for survival, we search for the catalyzing properties — new relationships & learnings — that will allow us unlock surprises in our professional careers. It’s this serendipity that’s allowed so many tech nomads to rise: the discovery of a person you click with becoming a business partner, the taste of the best food that all of the cities we pop to having to offer, the embrace of constant discomfort as living situations change day by day and the variable rewards — Easter eggs, if you will — that pop into our lives just because we happened to be in the right place at the right time.
We, the tech nomads, embrace the sporadic nature of the live we live and embrace that being in the right place at the right time often means flinging ourselves so heavily out of our comfort zones that the very definition of comfort becomes skewed and renewed, such that a new level of homeostasis — one that would have not even been considered possible by our former selves — becomes our gold standard. For me, comfort began in living in my suburban home in New Hampshire, with the occasional trip up to Maine or down to Massachusetts offering it’s bites of excitement and curiosity in being in a new place with new faces, smells, sounds, things to see and experiences to feel. Each trip would be about 1 week long, just long enough for me to settle into my new environment, then I would head right on back home afterward and be reminded of my true anchor. That’s a theme I always had until the age of 18: an anchor at my childhood home. College rocked me, partly because of this: it was the first time I had to uproot my normal anchor in New Hampshire, and I was extremely averse to it. Turning down arguably the best university in the world to attend college close to home, I surprised my usual ruthlessly independent self by going home every other weekend and forcing myself to use the word “home” in referring to my college apartment, though it never felt like that. What I found, instead, was making a new environment a home was something I simply didn’t know how to do and simply didn’t think possible. Growing up, my mother used to say “home is where we are. Wherever me and dad are, you’ll have a home” — I suppose I equated this to, sorry Taryn but there’s no way you can have a home away from your parents. What I didn’t see before was that houses become homes because of the people that fill them. As I become more acclimated to college living, and more specifically after my first couple of trips to Miami and SF, I learned to instead of “make a new home”, to “grow a new family”. This mindset shift to place my homage in people over places is what’s allowed every single place I visit to feel like home, because every single place I go has at least 1 of my “family members” there, whose friends almost always become my friends and part of this nomadic family conglomerate. We all seem to have this level of resonance, too, embracing the properties of wagmi (that is: none of us have made it yet, all of us won’t stop grinding until we do) and all looking for the same human thing in the end: compassion & belonging. Oddly, if I hadn’t fallen into my nomadic life and embraced everything it has to offer, I believe I never would have truly felt at home. Looking back to my life 2 years ago — deep-diving into my tech homework in high school, wondering what kinds of keys it would equip me with and what kinds of locks existed in the world that I’d have the ability to break open — I would have never, ever expected to be doing any of the things I’m doing right now, and I would have never, ever actually discovered my potential and the fact that for every key I carried, whether a learned or inherent skill, there existed an infinite amount of locks to crack open, and inside every locked box existed doors & windows of opportunity too overwhelming to digest all at once.
The way I like to frame this: imagine describing to a fetus still in the womb what the world outside is like. Or describing to a 2-D stick figure what 3-D objects & 4-D smells and sounds are like. You’ll notice a physical impossibility with this… words don’t exist to describe what’s the equivalent of another dimension added onto a person’s life when the tech nomad lifestyle is adopted. The only way to learn it is to live it.
A quick zoom out from the philosophical to right here, right now, as I’m taking a few minutes to write while sitting at SF0 Terminal 2 Gate D6 waiting for the plane that will take me to LA, where I’ll be hopping around between tech events filled with NFT builders & enthusiasts, crashing with my friends at some big giant house somewhere, eating free food, randomly hopping to new events, striking conversations with new people, and broadening my life to new horizons. It sounds a bit too good to be true, but under a magnifine glass, you can see that the serendipity is actually just a result of the following cadence: I went to my first tech conference in Miami, met friends who I now live with in SF, and grew my family. My friends, who build in the community sector, wanted to go to LA and called up their friends who are letting us crash at their Beverly Hills mansion (whaaat?).
Nothing is expected, and I’ve learned to embrace the unexpected, find comfort in the serendipitous present, and find home in the lifelong friendships I hold with my neo-family of fellow techies. Thousands of years of human development has allowed migrating for resources to come to this, a living-by-the-pay-check world of hunting for business relationships, fun times, new friends, and a world of opportunities to unlock and run after.