A few posts ago i shared the article that was published in my friend Laura’s magazine called Quite Something, in their very first issue.
Since then they have released their second issue, and yours truly features in this one too! As a matter of fact, the lovely team of Quite Something have brought me into the fold as a regular columnist!
How absolutely freaking amazing is that? I’ve always wanted to pursue my writing seriously and I’ll forever be grateful for the people behind this magazine for giving me this chance. It means the world to me.
So below is the second article I write for Quite Something.
It’s a continuation of sorts from the first article, which was titled Have Love, Will Travel. So if you haven’t read that one yet then go read that first before this one!
As with last time, here are the social links to Quite Something:
Beneath The Pretty Pictures
Not many people have been as blessed as I have to see as much of the world as I have seen.
I am addicted to travel. The need is so bad sometimes that I’ll start planning the next trip while I am already on a trip. I spend my free time looking up destinations and activities and count it as a hobby to browse tourism websites. FareCompare and Hostelworld are pinned tabs in my web browser, they open automatically when the window opens. I am what has popularly become known as a Digital Nomad.
Many people that know me thanks to my public travel themed Instagram seem to think I am living their ideal life. They see the exciting activities and the exotic destinations. They see my adventures and all the fun times I am lucky enough to experience. The pictures are bright and vibrant, full of life and joy. My Instagram is a Technicolor dream come true for the average person.
I get tons of messages about how lucky I am and how people wish they were me, got to do what I do, and asking me how I do what I do.
How do I afford it is usually the top question I get though.
And what interests me is that this is the least important aspect of my travel story!
I believe the bigger question is, “what does it cost to have your life?”, because the word cost goes beyond just the money aspect of being a digital nomad.
How do I afford it? This is the easy question. The simple answer is that I travel cheap. I stay in affordable places, avoid expensive foods and experiences, avoid touristy spots, and use the cheapest mode of transport. I am careful about my spending habits and I plan out everything so as to avoid as much unforeseen circumstances as possible. I save all the money that I can and live a very simple life so I can have the funds I need to keep moving.
But the cost of my lifestyle has a far more complex answer. I am a Pakistani Muslim woman. This is not the typical description of a backpacker, I know. I come from a working class Pakistani family of self-made people. We are not wealthy but we work hard. We also adhere to our faith and culture as best as we can in this globalized time.
When people say they want to live like me, I wonder if they know the sacrifices this path requires. Especially when its women from my ethnic background that say things like this to me. I try to acknowledge that, yes I am very, very blessed to live the life I lead, to have the opportunities I have. I try to be pragmatic and realistic though, and hint at the fact that it’s not as easy as it seems.
By choosing to see the world instead of settling down and getting married or getting a nine-to-five job or managing the household with my mother like a “normal Pakistani” woman, I am officially removing myself from traditional society. And as a result, if I don’t adhere to traditional roles, I obviously don’t fit in.
If I don’t fit in, well then, I become a problem.
Not for everyone though, certainly not for my family, thank goodness!
But according to Pakistani society at large, I am a bad influence. I am setting an example of what NOT to do with your life. I don’t exhibit what is considered as “good, decent” behavior. I am a rebel and that means I am dangerous. I am amoral, willful, and stubborn and the most critical flaw, I am independent.
By the very virtue of my lifestyle I am not “marriage” quality anymore. So there goes one of those traditional roles out the window. No basic traditional Pakistani man wants a wife that isn’t around half the year and winds up in places with no cellphone reception for weeks.
Most typical Pakistani men believe in a yearly holiday of a week, maybe two if he’s feeling adventurous. They most likely go to a resort or some well-developed area. The concept of what I do, which is to go camp out by the ocean on an island somewhere in South East Asia, seems completely crazy to them! In fact, most Pakistanis are your normal suitcase and preplanned tour kind of travelers. I’m more of a backpack and map-it-out as I go kind of woman.
So I sacrificed the chance to be a traditional, normal Pakistani bride to a good man who has a decent job. On top of this, I don’t want kids! Ramsha must be bonkers!
No kids, no husband, 28 years old, covered in big black tattoos and too many piercings… I really did smash the mold didn’t I?
And I’ll admit, it gets lonely sometimes.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be in the group of girls I went to school with who are now mothers to their second child. The girls that brunch and wear fashionable clothes, young mums with good husbands. A fancy house with the perfect car in the driveway. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be them. Am I missing out? Did I make the right decision? Will I regret my choices one day?
The best of us have days where we doubt ourselves. We agonize over the paths we took and if it was the right thing to do. But what I find, more often than not, is that I’ll scroll through those same bright pictures that inspire my followers, and in turn be inspired myself all over again.
I am reminded that I may not have the normal life but what I have instead is an extraordinary life. Sure, it come with its own challenges, especially the fact that there is so little reference to look up to. Our world is huge and more than one person can see all of in a lifetime and I still have so much more to experience. I’m not even halfway through my bucket-list!
So ask me again, what is the cost of what I do?
The cost is social acceptance, fitting in, and normalcy. The cost is a steady home life, a clear life plan and a set steady future.
And I wouldn’t change that for anything!