Sometimes, when I think back to that day back in 2013 when I decided to start a blog and the wild, convoluted path my life has taken since then, I can’t help but laugh. It seems surreal, and sometimes I still wonder if I’m about to wake up from a dream.
If I knew in the beginning that this would eventually be my job, boy would I have done some things differently. But, the truth is, I had no idea. I started my blog as a way to tell stories about my travels, and only many months later realized the incredible potential it held.
I didn’t know that I would fall in love with the creative process or just how much my readers would come to mean to me. I didn’t know it would lead me to form amazing friendships, travel to new and unexpected parts of the world, or trick me into reading business and finance books for fun.
I didn’t know it would require so much of my blood, sweat, and tears to earn my first dollar. I didn’t know it could truly be a viable career path (although many would still argue that it’s not–joke’s on them!).
If I’d known all of those things from the beginning, if I’d treated this thing like a means to an end rather than the transformational journey that it has been, I honestly don’t know if blogging would mean as much to me as it does now. If I hadn’t watched it grow and morph and evolve along with me as I grew and morphed and evolved into the person I am today, would it still feel like a part of me? Like a vital organ, no more easily removed than my beating, life-giving heart?
It’s impossible to say with any certainty, but my intuition says no.
As with everything in life, my blogging journey has come with its fair share of growing pains. It probably mirrored my own life and personal struggles in a lot of ways. It felt heavy at times. Overwhelming. Not worth the effort. At other times, it lifted me up, and we celebrated the victories.
Like a good friend, it gave me what I needed in times of distress and always let me vent. Like a bad lover, it frustrated me with its complexities and the ambiguity of our future. Like a tough parent, it always made me work for my success and never, ever allowed me to coast.
What Blogging Means to Me
It’s my creative outlet.
For most of my young life, I thought of myself as an analytical person. I was always drawn to the arts and dabbled in a wide variety of disciplines, but I always chose to study the sciences. It wasn’t until I discovered blogging that I realized the truth was very much the opposite (and looking back, it’s clear to see how much I actually struggled with anything remotely analytical or numbers-based).
I have my logical moments now and again, but at my core, I’m a (highly emotional) creative. The truth is, I have a strong tendency to “think” with my heart–my upstairs brain is rarely the one calling the shots. The people closest to me know the tell-tale signs; my workspace is always a complete disaster, I’ve always had a strong aversion to routine, and I couldn’t find my way around an Excel spreadsheet if my life depended on it. Oh, and of course there’s my strong propensity for jumping on flights at a moment’s notice and with no advance planning.
When I published my first blog post back in December of 2013, I was working my way through South America on an 8-month backpacking trip. Writing that post was not only a way for me to begin to flex my creative muscles again, but also a way for me to work through the conflicting and overwhelming emotions I was experiencing at the time.
Blogging allowed me a safe space to experiment, to reflect, and to process my thoughts and feelings, which, quite frankly, just needed a place to go. I likely would have turned to pen and paper, but I’m grateful for the blog as writing for an audience added an air of formality to it and encouraged me to try and make sense of things.
That very process–making sense of things–is something I had never treated as a priority in the past. I was too busy trying to squeeze myself into the mold dictated by society–to swallow those feelings in order to stay the course and do what was expected of me, not unlike trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
I realize now how important creativity is to my sanity and overall emotional well-being. I live to create, and through blogging, I have an easy way to do it every single day.
As it turns out, I love writing, and I love telling a good story. My late father was well-known for his storytelling prowess. Because I never had the privilege of knowing him as an adult (he died not long after I turned 16), I feel connected to him through this shared trait in a way that I might not otherwise (although my mom has also pointed out that we cook in the same manner–that is, by making a huge mess of the kitchen).
But the storytelling gene didn’t just belong to my father; I see the same gift in his siblings and I saw it in my late grandmother. It’s just as much a part of me as my short stature, my boyish hips, or my brown eyes. Inextricable in nature, and something I will forever cherish.
It’s the first thing I’ve truly dedicated myself to in years.
When you’ve spent the better part of a decade bouncing from one city to the next, one job to the next, and one hobby to the next, it can be quite alarming to wake up one day to the realization that you’ve been pursuing the same thing for nearly three years. And pursuing it wholeheartedly, at that.
My first year of blogging passed in the blink of an eye; the second, a sneeze. This ease with which time seemed to pass while pursuing this endeavor was something that meant little to me at first but means so much more now. As they say, hindsight is 20-20.
When this third full year of blogging passes by, I’ll have no choice but to throw a party. A party to celebrate the fact that I am capable (and willing) to commit to something–anything!–for the long-haul. And I’ve not only poured my blood, sweat, and tears into this baby but money and SO much of my time. I’ve flown around the world for conferences, even (okay, so that part was really fun).
But it’s exciting for so many other reasons, too, not least of which being that having stuck it out for this long is a true testament to the fact that I really do love it. There’s always something new to learn, some new challenge to overcome. Every day there is a new milestone to celebrate, a new reader I’ve helped, and new ideas to dream up and bring to life.
This might not so much be a reason behind why I started blogging, but an explanation for why I’ve continued. I’m sure even without blogging I’d have conjured up some other creative hobby to love just as much, but this one has brought with it some of the most beautiful and unexpected rewards.
It’s how I make a living.
You’ve probably heard this story before:
Girl moves abroad to “find herself.” Girl starts a blog “to keep family and friends updated about her travels.”
Girl eventually comes home and feels suffocated by the traditional work structure, the reverse culture shock, and the stifling rules–both written and unwritten.
Girl struggles to assimilate to the world she once knew so well, feeling like a foreigner in her own country.
Girl quits terrible, soul-crushing corporate job to pursue her “passion” and decides to try blogging professionally.
Even when girl finally “makes it,” she cringes whenever somebody calls her a “professional blogger.”
Girl doesn’t always admit it, but she wouldn’t trade her “job” for anything in the world.
Sound familiar? I’m not the first, nor the 100th, nor the 100,000th person to write a similar story. We millennials are widely known as the generation that just isn’t willing to settle for the status quo, and you know what? I’m not even a little bit ashamed to identify as a millennial on those grounds. The internet has changed the world, allowing for blogging to become a profession in the first place. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that? Why shouldn’t we challenge the outdated idea of the workplace and flip the definition of success on its head?
The fact that I’m able to continue living the way I want to, with the freedom to pick up and travel at a moment’s notice, is something I will never, ever take for granted. It might not be obvious from an outsider’s point of view, but finding success as a blogger is far from easy, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, most blogs never earn their owners a dime, and a large majority of them are abandoned within the first year.
I know how hard I’ve had to work–and how hard I’ll have to continue to work–to make this life a reality, to achieve all the goals I’ve set for myself, and to uphold my own standards of quality and success.
(For those of you still wondering how the heck a blogger like me earns a living in the first place, don’t worry–I’m working on a post about it as we speak, so stay tuned.)
What does blogging mean to me now?
Like every blogger and entrepreneur, I have good days and bad. Sometimes, I want to throw in the towel and go back to a “normal” existence, where everything is easy, and everything is certain.
But then I look back on this crazy journey that started in 2013 and I laugh. I laugh and I remember how hard I worked to get to this point and what it was all for in the first place:
These days–now that I’m fully location independent and earning a living from wherever there’s a WiFi connection–this little blog of mine?
It’s everything to me.
It’s the cornerstone of this lifestyle that I’ve built for myself, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Have you ever thought of starting your own blog? It might just change your life.
PS – If you are interested in starting your own blogging journey, check out my detailed tutorial here for some useful tips and insights along with all of the exact tools I’ve used to build mine.
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