After 5 long bus rides,  I had made it to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.  I had just gotten a ride into town from my Air BnB host and I was anxious to set myself onto the Caribbean white sand to meditate and stretch.

I laid out this beautiful fabric I had just bought in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, set down my headphones, my fanny pack,  and set my phone behind me to of course capture what I thought would be an Instagram worthy moment. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and as I exhaled I felt this rush of cold water under my legs soaking my shorts. A wave had crashed onto shore taking with it, everything I had laid out on the sand, In a state of panic, I opened my eyes and madly searched for my phone. I picked it up soaking wet. Then with cat-like reflexes, I  grabbed my soaking wet fanny pack that had my passport and money in it.  Cradling my soaked items like a baby I managed to get my dripping wet headphones and one sandal. 

Miraculously my phone was still working, and after this somewhat traumatic event, I walked barefoot to the closest restaurant to salvage what I could of my wet things. Yes, all this happened at the start of my day. I sat eating a plate of pancakes and ice cream, as my money and headphones dried in the sun.

When unexpected and often catastrophic events happen our minds often go the self-pity route. Why did this happen to me? I can’t believe this! This is why I can’t have nice things. This is what happens when I try to relax and enjoy myself.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned about 3 years living abroad. Life happens, even when you’re on vacation, or lying on a beach. After my meditative moment that turned into a disaster, part of me wanted to walk back to my Air Bnb, turn on Netflix, and just hide for the rest of the day. But instead, I walked barefoot into town, found myself some new sandals, found a part of the beach further away from the water, and did what I had intended on doing. I chilled and accepted that things could have been worse, and although I was disappointed I was still fortunate enough to be lying on a beach in Costa Rica, feeling the sun on my skin. 

Just another day in the life of a black digital nomad.

Whether you have just started the nomadic life, wanting to get started or a pro at it, problems don’t stop because you’ve moved locations. Here’s the lesson you can apply to your life to make sure you don’t get stuck feeling sorry for yourself.

  1. Be prepared. Carry a copy of your passport with you, or have a copy of it somewhere, and have a photo of it on your computer, tablet, or phone. Along with this keep extra cash or credit card hidden in your suitcase if you can leave your suitcase in a secure place.
  2. Keep going. When things go wrong you can get upset, you can scream, cry out of pure frustration but you can’t stay still. You have to move forward. This might mean making the most out of your situation. Finding some joy, or asking yourself what is this moment trying to teach you.
  3. When you seek the good, you find the good. I wanted to make the most of my day so I did just that. When you seek the good it will find you, and that’s how you can turn things around.

Living abroad has helped me gain this positive mindset but there was a lot of mental and practical preparation that went into my move before I left. If you want to live the life of your dreams and live anywhere in the world you want, it starts before you get on that plane. Because true paradise exists in the right state of mind.