I don’t know if anyone besides my most loyal fans (aka my family and best friends) have noticed, but I took a pretty big break from blogging. An almost two-month break to be exact.
The break started out unintentionally. I was bogged down by other responsibilities, and in the little free time I had, I found it tough to motivate myself to do anything besides the bare minimum for my blog. The writer’s block was really real, and I was on the struggle bus.
I kept putting things off. I kept telling myself I would finally publish that post “tomorrow” except “tomorrow” kept getting pushed back, and I kept stressing about it. Eventually I just decided to be intentional about my break and simply enjoy it with no guilt looming over me.
So why did I take a break from blogging?
The simple answer would be because I needed it to prevent a complete and total burnout, but the real answer was much deeper than the occasional bout of laziness and writer’s block.
Blogging was starting to take away a tiny bit of the joy of traveling, and I first noticed it when I went to see my brother in Atlanta this past April. I wanted to visit as many points of interest as possible and explore as much of the city’s foodie scene as possible, but the phrase “I have to…” was appearing a little too much in my vocabulary. When all I wanted to do was relax and enjoy my family’s company, I found myself thinking: I have to do this. I have to see that. I have to eat there. I have to find things to write about. I have to post this picture.
It was all getting to be too much for me. I felt too much pressure, and I realized that it wasn’t the first time I had felt that way during a trip.
In the oversaturated world of travel blogging where readers– like all Internet users– have an average attention span of about 0.5 seconds, your online/social media presence needs to be almost constant, and that meant that my brain was constantly “on.” The wheels in the back of my head were constantly turning, trying to think of the next blog post, the next tweet, the next Facebook update, the next Instagramable moment and (god forbid it to the deepest depths of hell) the next social media train that everyone was going to jump on therefore making any blogger who doesn’t use it basically obsolete. Lookin’ at you Snapchat! I was never truly at rest, and I did not like that.
That’s what I started to reflect upon when I stopped stressing and allowed myself to enjoy my blogging break. In that time I spent thinking, I was finally able to admit something to myself:
As much as I consider myself to be an adventurous and free-spirited person, I also crave some stability in my life.
I always knew that I didn’t want the life of a permanent nomad constantly on the road with no place to call home. That much I already knew, but this most recent epiphany revealed a little more to me. I realized that I not only wanted stability in terms of having a home base, but I also wanted stability in my career. The life of a full-time blogger/freelancer is a never-ending hustle, and while you’ll find tons of bloggers, especially travel bloggers, who will tell you to quit your 9-to-5 job and work online, what a lot of them won’t tell you is how hard that can be. What a lot of them won’t tell you about are the ups and downs in their monthly paychecks. What a lot of them won’t tell you (at least not without an air of snootiness to it) is that the freelancer lifestyle is not for everyone.
Allow me to tell you… This shit is hard. Really hard. It is not for everyone, and that’s ok because we’re all different and value different things in life. It doesn’t make you lazy, less ambitious or less of a hard worker– all things I had to convince myself of on the way to my epiphany. It just means this lifestyle isn’t for you, and you’ll have to find other ways to prioritize travel in your life (or whatever it was that attracted you to the online hustle in the first place). I say “you” but really I might as well look in the mirror and read these words to myself. Actually… I probably will.
So I took a break from blogging because that time and space away from it afforded me the clarity to realize that for me, I was going about it all wrong by putting all my eggs in one basket as if full-time blogging/freelancing was my only hope to make travel a big part of my life. It put way too much pressure on me to constantly perform in the face of so much instability, and that took its toll on me. I’m not hating on people who make the full-time blogging/freelancing thing work for them. As a matter of fact, it’s admirable, but it’s just not for me. That pressure took some of the joy out of my blogging, my traveling, my free time, and my life in general when my ultimate goal was–and still is– to do the exact opposite.
I now know that this is totally unnecessary. There is another way. A way that I caught a glimpse of during my two years of working in Spain. I think part of why I thrived so much in Spain is because I had a steady job with a steady paycheck, and all my vacation time allowed me to travel quite a bit. I had the best of both worlds, and that’s what I’m looking for here in the U.S. or wherever my home base is in the future. My new inspirations are the many travel bloggers I have been following recently who all have full-time jobs and still manage to travel quite frequently. Work-life balance can be achieved even in the Workaholic United States of America! Who would’ve thunk it?!
And that brings me to my next point… Besides enjoying slightly lower stress levels and pondering the meaning of my life, I’ve also been up to something else very important during this break: applying for full-time, 9-to-5 jobs.
Gasp! Shock! OMG!
It’s surprising, I know, but that’s what I’ve been doing to keep busy these last two months. And since it’s impossible for me to stay away from all things travel-related, the jobs I’ve been applying to are all in the field of study abroad. It’s a field that combines so many of the things that I love: travel, language learning, international education, cultural immersion and so much more. I’m actually really quite excited about the possibility of making blogging my side hustle while working in the study abroad field full-time. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll even get to travel for work so wish me luck with this job hunt, guys!
As the fictitious character Benjamin Button once put it:
“It’s never too late… to be whoever you want to be… You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing… I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
I really love this quote, and this way of looking at life. It’s never too late to do anything. And if there is one thing I know about myself it’s that I have the courage to adjust, adapt and start all over if necessary in order to live a life I’m proud of, a life that makes me happy.