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  • Jonathan Jacob

From NYC to van life

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't scary; donating everything you own to downsize into a van that is smaller than the average bedroom. I'd also be lying if I said it was easy. Change is almost never easy but it's necessary to grow and that I needed. I was too busy giving all of my attention to people, jobs and locations that didn't benefit me, I forgot to check in with myself. I thought I needed the city to thrive as an artist, I thought I needed a cut throat job to make money to live in the city and I thought I needed to surround myself with anyone I could to not feel alone. Imagine that; feeling alone in one of the most populated cities.

My life was filled with so much clutter, it became confusing to know what actually made me happy. I was lost working too many hours at my side job, hustling to maintain my career and giving myself no time to breathe in between. Contracts as a performer would take me on the road or out of state and I thought NYC would always serve as my "be-all-end-all".

The truth is, I liked the title more than the physicality of it. Telling people I lived in NYC eventually meant more to me than actually being there. The constant go, go, go had me wanting to no, no, no and it really burned out any desire to function on my free time. Words stayed unwritten, creativity stayed in my mind and life seemed to be on pause in between contracts. I needed out.

When I originally left NYC, I packed up everything I owned, put it in a storage unit and set out with as little as possible in a rented suv. I had camping equipment, including a tent, a stove with propane, my camera and my dog. 50 days, 37 states and so many wonderful memories had me at the edge of my seat for more. I knew I needed to revamp my life but I didn't know how or where to start.

That's when I dabbled around in LA for a little bit. I thought the change of pace, change of weather and of course the legal marijuana would have me getting the fix I needed for a slower paced lifestyle. Boy, was I wrong. It felt like I was running away from the one thing I wanted more than travel. The traveling is what gave me my rise, the living with less, the flying by the edge of my seat. It was so obvious to me, especially after this road trip; I'm a nomad.

I never grew up in one specific place. The moving around was freuqent and I never had the opportunity to develop roots, even as I explored life on my own, I was always eager for a new background with each photo I took. There is so much to see in this world and sitting still is not for me.

One night, a panicked downward spiral had me calling my friend to have one of those typical, "I wanna live in a van" rants to which she asked "why don't you do it?" I had no actual response and knew it was time to pull the trigger. I started doing as much research as possible and searching for my van. Within three months, I flew back to NYC, donated everything I owned and built out my future home. I now happily live in a 1998 GMC Safari and I have never felt more free.

With this change, I take my life, my happiness and my future into my own hands. No more are the days of sitting around waiting for something to happen. Putting yourself first is not an act of selfishness but rather an act of self empowerment. Today is happening and I'm going to make the best of every today.


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