I’ve felt a nomadic call my whole life! I call myself an adventurer, in some cases an adrenaline junky, and an experience seeker. I’ve fantasized over traveling the world and having new experiences everyday. Enjoying the new sites, new energy, new people and appreciating that culture wherever I am. It fuels me. And when I’m too tired or sick to travel, I travel inward. I look for the next inner adventure or growth I can find with meditation or drawing or walking aimlessly around the city I live in or by trying out a new gym. New experiences are around us at all times, waiting for us to tap into this wealth of inspiration. Taking the time for these, whether it be abroad or at home, makes us better designers.
This outlook on travel comes from my childhood as a military brat and I loved it! We got to move every two years. What could be better than seeing bagpipers in Ireland and Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany when I was 5 years old? It was magical. People often ask me if being a military brat ruined my childhood. “Are you now a socially awkward adult because you didn’t have a constant friend from kindergarten?” No! Well, I can be socially awkward sometimes, but that’s not because I moved so much. In fact, it made me like a social chameleon. I could adapt myself into any situation and be cool with it. I actually miss that very much, now that I’ve been a bit more stationary in my adult life. This adaptation has its positives and negatives but overall I wouldn’t trade it for any other life! I loved it! I loved being on planes, I loved getting excited about new places, and I loved the mystery toward a place I was about to go to. This gave me a huge sense of curiosity and the ability to see things in perspectives that others weren’t as readily able to and that’s what sets me apart as a designer now.
I receive those kinds of questions less frequently as the world becomes, well, more worldly. The internet has made the world smaller and easier for us to spread our wings and understand more cultures. There is an expansion happening, an awakening that is calling many professionals to hit the road. It’s more than the Instagram popularized #vanlife, although that in itself is such a breath of fresh air. Digital nomads, remote workers, off-grid living, and even jobs that pay you just to travel are all becoming more common.
It’s an exciting and important time. We MUST experience more in order to create designs that solve real life problems. As technology grows exponentially, our problems also grow. Sometimes it feels like companies cannot keep up. The need for a different, decentralized way of working that promotes freedom and flexibility for its workers will also promote freedom and flexibility of ideas and solutions.
When designers can experience real world problems, we cultivate empathy and can’t help but think of innovative solutions. Forward thinking companies who understand this concept and who promote their designers' empowerment toward discovering these solutions will be the clear winners in the tech race. Let’s rise as the design community and make a stand for our desires and our value. The world needs us!