Just over two years ago, on December 21st, 2013, I published my first ever blog post.
With no inclination of the direction The Mochilera Diaries would take back then, it’s both thrilling and fascinating to see how far it has come in such a short time, how it has grown and changed and matured alongside me, and how it has, in many ways, dictated the trajectory of my life since that day.
It’s hard to imagine where I would be had I not started blogging. At the risk of sounding utterly cliché and sappy, I’m going to say it:
Allow me to elaborate.
Life Before Blogging
You see, it’s been a long time since I’ve dedicated so much of my life to any one endeavor. Two years may not seem like a lot to most people, but when my attention span until now has hovered right around the three-month mark before boredom set in, two years is actually quite the accomplishment for me, and make no mistake–it’s something I’m quite proud of.
Before I knew how much travel truly meant to me, I had big career ambitions. You might say I was following the Great American Dream–or, at least, the Original American Dream.
Back then (2005, to be precise) I’d just been accepted to my dream college to study the field I thought I was passionate about at the time, nutrition and dietetics. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized this “passion” of mine, which manifested itself in intense self-study beginning as early as high school, was nothing more than a band-aid solution for problems that were rooted too deeply to be solved in such a superficial way–body dysmorphia and an eating disorder.
But until that realization came about, I studied diligently, got good grades in my university courses despite feeling completely inadequate, gave up my opportunity to study abroad in order to graduate on time (that’s four years in the US), and was accepted to my dietetic internship and master’s program of choice in New Haven, Connecticut.
In spite of my successes, the bitter taste left in my mouth by not being able to study abroad was acrid and strong; I imagine this was because even back then, I knew that nutrition wasn’t truly where my heart was.
And yet, I continued.
My year in Connecticut was easily one of the most miserable of my life. A feeling of dread filled my gut each morning as I summoned the courage to go to my rotations, only to have my ego shattered into a million pieces by the end of the day.
I took small victories where I could get them. I felt an enormous release of pressure the day I officially dropped out of the master’s program. I managed to suppress my binge-purge behavior for most of the year. I escaped to nearby New York City as often as I could, imagining briefly that my life wasn’t actually unfolding the way it was.
It’s incredible to think how many glaring red flags I willingly ignored during that time. But I’d put in the work to get there, and so it was obligation that dictated my thoughts and actions. I had to finish the internship. I had to become a registered dietitian. Otherwise, it would all have been for nothing. The funny thing now is, those obligations meant nothing in the end. It was all for nothing, because my heart proved more strong-willed than my head.
When my year of hell concluded and an opportunity came around to change my life’s trajectory, I faltered simply for lack of ideas. I moved to New York and began unwillingly searching for entry-level jobs as a dietitian. But when 30 job applications produced one interview and zero jobs and my motivation to study for the registration exam evaporated into thin air, I knew it was time to choose a different life.
Although teaching didn’t prove to be a true passion, either, moving abroad was a giant leap in the right direction. In the past four years, I’ve visited 26 countries, calling two of them home. I’ve experienced things I’d only dreamed of–I’ve jumped out of an airplane, chowed down on crispy insects, and seen some of the world’s most incredible natural wonders. I’ve been wreck diving, zip-lining, sailing, and island hopping.
I’ve met people that amaze and inspire me and push me to be better every single day. I’ve fallen in love with more people and more places and more moments than I could ever count. I’ve learned to love myself for all of my shortcomings and imperfections, and developed a new, healthy relationship with my body and food.
Just when things seemed most dismal, travel brought me back to life.
The Role of Blogging
Over these past few years, my path hasn’t always made much sense; but as long as I’ve kept moving, kept learning about myself, and discovered what it is I truly desire in life, I’ve continued progressing toward my goals.
Among those goals? Continuing to travel (check) and waking up each morning excited about life (check). Starting this blog has been a major catalyst toward achieving the latter. I never imagined it would lead to so many opportunities, so many friendships, and a lifestyle that I absolutely adore.
In some cases, my blog has even helped me decide where to travel next; I may not have traveled to Europe as early as I did were it not for the TBEX conference, for instance. While traveling the Balkans, I visited some cities for the opportunity to meet up with blogger friends, and one city I even visited as a result of a serendipitous email from a reader.
And the mere act of penning a travel blog has undoubtedly provided some extra motivation to continue exploring and experiencing the world.
I’m happy to admit that my life is far from perfect. My blog doesn’t support my lifestyle yet, even though I hope it does one day. My other income streams are growing, but still tentative at best. But the things I have now that my life lacked before blogging are the confidence to know that I can achieve things that seem impossible at first, a lifestyle that is built around my true passions, and the peace of mind of knowing I’ve taken control of my own life and happiness.
Where to Go from Here
One thing I can say with total certainty is that blogging came into my life for a reason, and it’s here to stay. For the past two years, it has been my creative outlet and a justification for learning new skills, among so, so many other things.
As far as travel is concerned, it is also here to stay, but in a different capacity. I discussed my desire to slow down my travels at length in this post, so I won’t rehash it here.
Lastly, I plan to continue freelancing all while building this little blog even more, filling it with beautiful travel photos and useful info and uplifting anecdotes from life “on the road.”
As ever, as always, thank you for following along with this journey. Your support and readership mean more to me than you’ll ever know.
Cheers to two years, and many, many more!