I’m writing this on a Thursday night, having just come home from the hospital. My mother is staying overnight with my father, who has been in and out since Monday.

Looking back at the week, I realized that I had spent most of my time in the hospital. In the emergency rooms, hallways, waiting rooms, and finally in my dad’s hospital room.

Hospital Room | Why I Became a Digital Nomad (The Truth)

My dad’s hospital room.

Before you start worrying, I want to let you know that my dad is fine! This isn’t some story about a family tragedy.


A different kind of family time

Me and My Sister | Why I Became a Digital Nomad (The Truth)

My sister and I got candid photographed by my mom.

Although this certainly wasn’t how my parents imagined spending their visit to Chicago, I felt glad that we were all able to still spend time together. Since my sister and I had graduated from college, it’s been way more difficult for us to see my parents, who live in Shanghai.

And so it didn’t matter to me that we were in a hospital. I just felt happy because we were all together. Most importantly, I was glad that I was able to be there with my family when it mattered.

It wasn’t always this way.


Missing the moments that mattered

As a high schooler in Shanghai, I remember missing many key moments for my family.

I remembered being told that I didn’t have to go my grandfather’s funeral in New York because I had school. I was told the same thing when my cousin passed away in Taipei.

As a college student, I would miss every single Chinese holiday celebration because I was in the United States and schools here didn’t observe Chinese holidays.

As a college graduate, I missed birthdays, family traditions and key milestones for family members because I was bound to the 2-week vacation policy written in my contract.

I felt terrible about this. It always seemed like I had an excuse for not being somewhere. And I hated it.

I thought to myself, “When will I be able to have time for the people that I cared about the most?”

My life up to that point had been a constant trade-off between the things I had to do and the things I wanted to do.

I didn’t want it to be that way anymore.


Why I became a digital nomad

When people talk about “digital nomadism” they tend to think about a nomadic lifestyle in which you hop around different locations every few weeks. They think of freedom, passion, adventure and travel.

While that can be true, I think it’s misleading and obscures the main benefit of a location independent lifestyle.

Pursuing the remote lifestyle is pursuing a life in which you take back ownership of your time. To empower yourself so that you can choose how you spend your time.

Pursuing the remote lifestyle is pursuing a life in which you take back ownership of your time. Click To Tweet

While traveling and other personal endeavors are great, they are not the most important things in the world. For most people, the most important things are their relationships with family and friends. I’m very much the same way.

When I decided to quit my job and freelance, I did it because I wanted to spend the most precious moments of my life with the people who matter the most. And in the past 8 months, I have been able to do so. I have:

  • Traveled with my family to Europe for 3 weeks (April)
  • Took a long weekend trip to Milwaukee with friends (May)
  • Spent time with my parents when they visited me (June)
  • Had a reunion with my college roommates in Washington DC (August)
  • Visited my childhood friends in New York (September)

It’s pretty bizarre.

Since I quit my job and started working for myself, I’m living a life where weekdays, holidays, and weekends don’t mean anything to me anymore. If something or someone is important to me, I make time.


I can finally be there when it matters

Working in the Hospital | Why I Became a Digital Nomad (The Truth)

My new office for the week.

I experienced the true significance of it this week. When my dad was admitted to the ER, I didn’t have to think twice about being there. I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission.

He’s my dad and I was going to be there. End of discussion.

It’s in moments like this when I think back to why I decided to pursue this lifestyle. It’s not about the money, the cool travel stories, and the perks of working from home. It’s about the people you care about the most.

They’re the ones I’m doing this for and they’re the reasons why I will succeed.