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My return to US living as a digital nomad

Well, hello. It has been a few years since I’ve shared any personal updates. Yet a few of you have asked when I’d start them up again, which is a fantastic stroke to my ego. 

I’ve been growing a lot more private in recent years. I read a study one time that implied that insecure people share more of their lives with the world than secure people. I’ve put my entire life out in the open, especially to you. I started to wonder about this study. It’s been a long journey for me to understand the difference between being secure in who “i” am and who “I” am. In yogic terms, the difference between self and Self.

I finally feel as if I am living the life I dreamed of as a kid, as a 20-something, as a young woman. Finally.

I am not perfect but I am extremely satisfied with who I am… as a self. As a lowercase “i”. 

But the study about sharing your life online gnawed at another part of me that constantly asked, “now what?”.

I imagine this is what people like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos face at a certain point with their millions of dollars. They’ve finally achieved what they thought they wanted… Yet something drives them further.

Here I go again, sharing everything. But it’s where I’ve been the last few years. I changed my entire life so that I was doing exactly what I wanted, every moment of every day. Moment to moment, I started to practice checking in with myself to see what I wanted. It felt monumental, important. Finally, I was being intentional about what kind of life I wanted to live.

I told this to a friend, that I was finally being intentional about my life and that it felt really good. He questioned how I could feel like I wasn’t being intentional with my life, doing what I wanted and when I wanted as a digital nomad for the last decade. It’s true. I’ve sort of floated around the world as opportunities arose. There was nothing holding me back from doing whatever I wanted. 

But none of it was intentional. It was more like a data-gathering exercise.

What did I want? I don’t know.. What’s on the table?

Where did I want to live? Depends on what’s accessible.

What kind of woman did I want to be? I’m not even sure what it means to be a woman!

As well prepared as I was for fending for myself and making the most of a shitty situation, I never stopped to consider that I could actually design my life. 

So I spent the last few years exploring what, exactly, I wanted for my life. Turns out, I want something similar to what I grew up with. The very thing I ran away from all along.

I wanted the mountains, not the toxic relationships. I wanted the snow, not the guilt trips. I wanted community, not obligation.

This all seems deeply personal, and boy is it. That’s why I haven’t sent any personal updates in the last few years. I couldn’t write about my return to the US and how strange it has been because, well, many of you have already sorted through all of this years ago. I think. That’s how it seems.

It didn’t seem exotic enough to share my return to what I thought was a “normal” life. If it’s interesting, then it could only be so in a train wreck sort of way.  

When I first settled into my place in Montana, I went a little crazy. I’ll admit. My anxiety was through the roof and I wondered if I was doing “it” right. Being alone… really, truly alone. The kind of alone where you realize that nobody on this planet will ever possibly provide you with the deep love you crave and yet you’re okay anyway. 

For the first time ever, I finally realized what it means to “love yourself first”. I always tried my best to do that by eating healthy, having a social life, being open minded, sleeping well… you know, all the things you’ve probably seen me explore on my Instagram. 

But to really love yourself is a whole different game that I honestly haven’t understood until I moved back home. 

When I was in Mexico, some shit went down that really shook me awake. I didn’t write much about it because I didn’t really want to be a privileged white girl talking about how shitty Mexico was. But it was honestly really shitty.

My ex got held up at gunpoint, something I haven’t told anyone face-to-face in my real life. My friend got her necklace ripped off her neck on the street. And overall, people were downright cold to expats. Where Ecuador welcomed me with open arms, Mexico seemed to scream “STAY OUT”.

When my ex returned home with eyes as wide as saucers to tell me about how a man held a gun to his chest, screaming in a language that my ex didn’t understand, it became very clear to me that I’d rather be spending the last minutes I have on this planet near my family than being “adventurous” in some dirty city overrun by the Mexican cartel.

I’ve been pretty fearless in my curiosity over the years, but this is where I became disillusioned. Many cultures have protected me from the dangers of their realities. However, Mexico didn’t give a fuck. In fact, most people seemed to resent me for seeking some fantasy that would make me seem “tough” because it was downright dangerous there and I had the biggest target on my back of all.

solo travel in mexico

Don’t get me wrong, Mexico had a lot of lovely parts to it. Oaxaca stole my heart with its village feel and moles. 

But was a good veggie mole worth never seeing my family again? No way.

I didn’t even know what my brother was like as an adult. The last time I spent any time with him was as a college student. I didn’t know what he sounded like, what his interests were, what motivated him, what he smelled like. He was a complete stranger. And there I was, looking over my shoulder just so I could keep living in a Spanish-speaking country and avoiding my parents for as long as possible.

Last year, when I visited my friend in Taos, New Mexico, and told him my plans to meander up toward Montana, where my brother lived, he seemed excited for me. “There’s nothing as special as a sibling relationship”, he said.

I shrugged and said, “Yeah, I guess I’ll find out.”

A few months later, I was sitting on my brother’s couch, telling him a story. I didn’t need to share any details or explain myself. I told him the events that transpired and he immediately understood my reaction and feelings around it. It was like he was in my head.

This continued to happen, even before we really spent much time together. He continued to understand me immediately and deeply. Where I’ve spent years trying to describe my nuanced triggers to people in my life, my brother understood them immediately without any explanation at all.

We are two different people, he is a Man raised in a patriarchal society and me a Woman raised in a patriarchal society. His traumas are so different from mine and my heart breaks for him whenever I learn just one more detail about his upbringing that I didn’t notice when we were kids. And he sheds tears when he learns about my traumas that he didn’t know about when we were kids. 

I always craved understanding and support from my parents, but that craving is never satiated. I’m left feeling empty and rejected, a pattern that has taken hold of my dating life even when in a relationship.  Everyone tries their best so I’m not bitter about what they can and cannot offer. But I never expected to really be seen like that from someone in my family. I didn’t know that was on the table. So when I came back to the US and my brother understood why I left, why I returned, and why I was annoyed that particular day, it felt like I could finally let out my breath.

During this time, I’ve been focusing on what it means to really love yourself. What I’ve come to learn is that “loving yourself” has more to do with protecting yourself from unhealthy relationships than good skincare and free time.

So my entire life in Montana has turned into a self-exploration of how to truly love myself. Because how do I love myself? By staying still and witnessing myself, asking myself every morning when I wake up: “How do I feel today? What do I want to do with my energy today? Who is safe to include today?” A lot of the answers to those questions come back to knowing and loving my brother. Knowing and loving everyone in my life who also wants to know and love me. 

It’s been a journey to grow up.

There’s a whole other story about what it’s like to return home as a foreigner. I’m still learning things about living in the US that I didn’t expect to not know, like how to pay for things, how much to tip, social references, and other super nuanced cultural tendencies. 

One thing that I’ve been so happy to learn is that people are a lot nicer than I was expecting. The news about the US when abroad is pretty negative. Truthfully, American culture is toxic and heavy. So news abroad pokes at that, reminding me that my default way of being is against human nature. Where America prioritizes a meritocracy, the rest of the world prioritizes community. 

But people here are nice anyway, in Montana, at least.

So I’ve been here, wrapping my head around what it means to be the kind of woman I really want to be and how to have my family in my daily life. How to protect myself from getting hurt and how to show up for myself when all I want is to be saved. It’s been hectic.

I hope you’ve all been well and are growing in ways that are meaningful for you. 

Much love,


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