Sunday, May 15, 2016

What does it take to feel secure?

I was quoted last week in Bob Wells's blog post about nomads having a safety net in case we get sick, injured or just too old. I had written the following on one of his forums.
For me it came down to the choice of living a life I wasn’t enjoying—but with a certain amount of safety—or living a life I love without a safety net. I chose the latter, because even if something bad or even life-ending happened, I would have had that time living the way I wanted. What’s the point of prolonging a life I’m not enjoying? 
Besides, I think safety is mostly an illusion. Sh#t happens to building dwellers. They get sick, they go broke, they get swindled, their homes break down or burn up or get destroyed in natural disasters… But they feel safe because it’s the way most people live. They’re doing the normal thing, the familiar thing, so it must be the best choice, the safe choice.  
I think danger is also mostly an illusion. We convince ourselves all sorts of things might happen to us, but they never do—not because of our vigilance, but because they were never going to happen anyway. Since the mobile life is unfamiliar, we can convince ourselves there are even more dangers out there waiting to get us. There aren’t more dangers, just different ones.
I wasn't the first one to ever think those thoughts. I heard them somewhere long ago. It just took me way too long to take the ideas to heart.

This video (which I'm unable to embed on my blog) featuring a TED Talk by computer security expert Bruce Schneier is a more comprehensive examination of security, danger and our perceptions of both. He starts by explaining that feeling secure and being secure are separate things. We can feel secure and be secure, we can feel insecure and be insecure, we can feel secure but be insecure, and we can be secure but feel insecure. We know this, but we tend to forget.

Schneier also reminds us that security involves tradeoffs—time, energy, money, freedom, etc.—and we need to decide whether the tradeoffs are worth it. As I wrote in that quote, I decided I had higher priorities than security. Security is among the top priorities for most people, which is why they'll never live the nomadic life.

As Scheier says, we tend to fear the unfamiliar yet cope with familiar dangers. Wandering the planet with no permanent address is unfamiliar to most people. It was to me. But I took the leap anyway, and once I did, it was way less scary. I learned which dangers were and weren't likely, and I learned how to prepare for and deal with the likely dangers.

What does it take to feel secure? It's different for each person. For me, it was less than I thought, less than I'd been conditioned to believe. You might be the same.


  1. Yup. As a solo female I often got asked about security. I didn't feel any less secure on the road than I did before hitting the road. Why would I?

  2. Hi Linda: I'm not a nomad, but I would like to be one, however I believe my main concern- shall I take the plunge- is security; perhaps due the fact I'm a female I believe I'll be more prone to be victimized than if I were @ male, would that be true ?

    1. I would say that yes, you probably are more likely to be victimized if you are female. Just look at the stats for whose doing the victimizing and, well....

      BUT, I think that's the same whether or not you are traveling (you are female whether you stay home or travel), so it's just something to deal with, either way.

      There are also lots of good people (both stationary and traveling).

  3. I like this way of looking at things. Life is a risk you you might as well be doing something you enjoy, if you can. And people tend to forget that "bad things" happen to stationary people as well, so that was a good point.

    1. Yes. I personally know quite a few women who have been victimized but every one of them lived in a house at the time. One of them was on vacation, so should women never go away?. Others were walking near their homes or not far away. At some point you have to let go of fear, since even a locked door is no guarantee of safety.