Dare You to Swipe Right: How a Tinder Connection(s) Kept me From Buying a One-Way Ticket Back Home
After landing in Bali six months ago, I found myself wide awake at 2am with fear pulsing through my body. I made a huge mistake. I shouldn’t have quit my job, gotten rid of nearly all of my possessions and moved abroad, alone. Straight up – I began reprimanding my frightened self and asked, “Madison, what have you done?”
On the verge of a complete emotional and physical breakdown, all I could think to do was distract myself from the pain. I just needed to get through the night and pray that my situation would look different in the daylight. My distraction of choice? With only 30% battery, I put my faith in Tinder. My thought process: I am gonna swipe my fears away and like a bedtime story, this nighttime activity will rock me to sleep so I don’t buy a one-way ticket back to California with my tail between my legs.
I opened the app and started swiping with glee. One particular profile caught my eye, an American guy with an affinity for nature, animals, and adventure! With a few shots of him surfing the waves in Bali, I was immediately drawn to him. He had a happy disposition and I thought he’d be an ideal new connection to meet up with.
The next morning Tinder kindly informed me the swipe was mutual. Woohoo! I opened the match to make an introduction. All of a sudden, I see a very big issue, “Matt is 5,321 miles away from you.” He beats me to the punch and says, “Wooah, are you really in SE Asia right now?!”
While Matt had spent a few months in Bali only a couple of months prior, he was based in San Francisco – where I had just come from. With a heavy heart, I cursed my location settings for not updating before I got my swipe on. But something amazing happened, Matt still saw my experience as valuable and wanted to learn more about my new journey as a first-time digital nomad – he was thinking about doing something similar.
He started following me on Instagram and we continued to message. We rooted each other on, encouraged one another to keep pressing into our own solo life journeys. I absolutely consider Matt as the first friend I made abroad. Our digital friendship kept me afloat as I traversed through seven more countries…
Once my location settings updated, I decided to use the app to make more friends, on the ground this time. 😛 One night, I met up with a guy named Dan – we both missed pizza and decided to stuff our faces with the greasy familiar goodness. Over dinner, we talked about his family and his life as a full-time international bicycle tour guide. His company was a recharging breath of fresh air.
The following week, I made another friend who was taking a sabbatical from his full-time gig in the states to get his divemaster certification in Thailand on an island called Koh Tao. After an engaging dinner, Ryan deduced that I was cool enough to invite along to the next leg of his journey. He said that he’d be happy to host me in his apartment if I ever traveled to Koh Tao. Two months later I found myself debarking a ferry with Ryan waiting to pick me up on his motorbike. I stayed on Koh Tao for 10 days in a super comfortable home, with a built-in community, and I ended up getting scuba dive certified myself.
Life-changing friends and connections stroll into your path so casually sometimes it seems impossible that they can have such a profound impact on you. Living in the digital age, we have an awesome opportunity to multiply our connections – even if it’s through a “shallow dating app.” Stay open, use good judgment (just like you would at home), and swipe to your heart’s content! You never know what a mutual connection could turn into.
Oh, and as for Matt, we decided to meet up for the first time in San Francisco just last week – and it was everything you’d expect it to be. As if I was greeting an old friend, he picked me up with coffee in hand and his pup Bodhi in tow. We went on a hike along the coast and caught up like it was no big thing.
Swipe Adventure on,