So, I follow a lot of travel bloggers on Twitter. At first it was strictly for ‘dreaming of travel’ purposes. Then, it became more ‘planning my trip’ purposes. Then it kinda spiraled into this whole….thing. Like 40% of my Twitter feed is travel-related, which can get pretty overwhelming at times.
I read a post on Man vs World the other day about the trials and tribulations of being an aspiring travel blogger. It really is a big internet out there, and if you want to carve your own space, you’ve gotta work hard. So hard. Super hard. If you want to run with the bigwigs, your blog has to become your job and, like any successful entrepreneur, it has to become your life. Travel goes from relaxing on a beach with a book, to trying to figure out how you’ll write about relaxing on a beach with a book in a way that could be interesting to your followers. If you want to make money doing it, you’ve gotta give it your all (and even then, you most likely won’t be rolling in the Benjamins Bordens).
I admire people that are hardcore like that and have built their sites and their brand up that much. It’s hard! People like that must really have a lot of passion and love and drive for what they do, and obviously do NOT get distracted by The X-Factor or reruns of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. WE GET IT, YOUR’E STRONGER THAN US.
For a while, I wanted to be a travel blogger. Like, a bigtime travel blogger. I blogged, I tweeted, I networked, I connected, I tried to write interesting journalist-y type things that sounded professional and whatever. I even thought about changing my blog name to ‘Nomadic Solo Female Traveler Adventure Chick Who Is Also Some Sort Of Other Niche Thing”. The thing is, I just didn’t (don’t) have that drive. Hell, I can hardly remember (/be assed) to floss my teeth every day. Maybe this is shooting myself in the foot, but I told myself “Yo. You aren’t as great as X Y and Z, so what’s the point in putting 120% into this when you’ll never see any big payoff?” I know that’s…fatalistic? But it’s true. It’s realistic! I don’t have the same drive as some, and I don’t have the same knowledge or resources as others…and, like, I don’t really care enough to look into them. Make sense?
I know that you never get anywhere in life without putting effort in, and for a while I really did put effort in! It just…stopped. Like the new “healthy lifestyle” I adopt every three weeks, my drive just sort’ve faded and I decided to focus on something else. It’s like I’ve got success ADD or something.
Much like when I came to the realization I’d never become a famous actor/comedian without actually trying, I was sad when I came to the realization I’d never be a bigwig travel blogger all on my own (I seem to have some weird expectation that I’ll just get handed things without working my ass off, which is ridiculous since this has never happened before in my life). But then the sadness passed and I was filled with this lovely feeling of “Hey. I’m a writer and a traveler who writes about her travels. I’m just me. And that’s super cool.”
I’m not obsessing over site views or trying to be the top ranked Google search (though I *am* at the top when you search ‘Jenny Serwylo’…but that’s mostly just because I’m the only one in the world. #famous), and I’m not bombarding my friends with constant tweets about other people’s adventures/whatever big travel story is in the news that day. And I’m also not trying to get companies to give me free gear or five star hotel rooms or free vacations somewhere THOUGH I WOULD GLADLY ACCEPT THESE THINGS AND REVIEW THEM FAIRLY.
I’m just…me. Just a late-20s, kinda chubby Canadian comedian, who travels and is terrible with money, enjoys coffee and watches way too much reality TV. When I write, it’s not from a viewpoint of someone who knows what they’re talking about or is trying to get sponsors. It’s just me, and hopefully it’s interesting.
While I was in Wellington earlier this year, I was having a really tough time with life. I was homesick, I was depressed, and I was pretty much the worst person in the world. I was chatting with a guy I met in the hostel, Steve, about how everyone told me I should stay in Wellington, but it just didn’t feel right. But EVERYONE was telling me it was right. I was worried about what I should do, where I should go, what people would think of me, when he told me:
“This is YOUR trip. Do what YOU want. No one else is doing what you’re doing, so what do you care what other people think?”
And it stuck with me. This is MY trip. I’m going to do what I want. If that means I don’t go to the Great Barrier Reef because of time/money restraints, so what? If that means I don’t go bungy jumping while I’m in the South Island, so what? If that means I spend a week watching the entire Buffy series instead of exploring, so what? This is my trip. Maybe it’s abhorrent to miss out on all those guidebook attractions, but the best memories I have from travel don’t usually involve seeing sights; they involve delicious meals with friends, and strong coffee in the sunshine, and kissing and laughing and sharing a newspaper over breakfast. They might not be the most compelling stories, but they’re mine.
So I think it’s time to use that philosophy on my life/blog a bit, y’know? When I was 15 I was the queen of not giving a shit what other people thought about me. Hell, I felt that way when I was 23 too! Then, of course, I grew up and became this cynical jaded bitch or whatever who cared about what people thought of her. It’s cool. It happens.
The older we get, the easier it is to say “Hey. This is me. I’m mostly okay with it. If you aren’t, that’s okay.” But those insecurities you have of wanting to fit in are still kind’ve there. No matter how awesome I was when I was 15, I still wanted to fit in (what 15 year old doesn’t), and no matter how awesome I am now, I still have that yearning to fit in and be loved. So I guess that’s where all my “Make your living being a travel blogger, Jenny!” concerns came from; I wanted to fit in and be famous, I felt like crap that I wasn’t, and I was angry that I didn’t have the drive to put everything into it and make it happen. It’s like I was back in grade 6; I was on the fringe of being one of the cool kids, and all the cool kids knew me and talked to me, but I wasn’t *quite* cool enough, and no one wanted to makeout with me behind the portables after school. I’m still waiting on that kiss from Lee McIlvenna.
I went for dinner drinks and potato wedges last night with my friend Rachel and her partner Chris, who are both involved in the travel community in one way or another. We got to talking about this subject and I, of course, voiced my thoughts, which inevitably turned into me voicing my worried “omg I’m not a real travel blogger” concerns, and my more recent “whatevs guys I’m just gonna write more posts about dancing and green peppers” ideas. It was nice to talk about my feelings to people in the know, and to know that I wasn’t entirely crazy in being like ‘whoa’ to the travel community in general.
Please don’t get me wrong: I love being part of this community. I look forward to #ttot and #rtwchat (when I can catch it), and I really enjoy finding new bloggers with interesting perspectives. When I’m researching places to go or things to see, I head first to travel blogs before tourism sites, because I think people can have really cool perspectives and (hopefully) tell it like it is. All these feelings are in no way, shape, or form coming from the community, but rather, they’re coming from my inside crazies and being influenced by what I see/perceive. Like I said, I feel like I’m trying to fit in with the cool kids again…even though I’m okay with not making out behind portables.
And look, I realize it’s fully insane to be worried about what the internet thinks of me.
We all have to carve our own paths in life, be them in our career or hobby or relationships or whatever, and it’s hard to remember that the main person we need to please is ourselves. When it’s 4am and you’re lying in bed staring into the darkness, you’ve only got yourself to hang out with, so you need to be mostly okay with yourself. I’m only recently learning all this stuff, and I’m sure everyone reading this learnt to be happy with themselves ages ago…but I guess I’m a late bloomer in that regard. I’m happy I’ve been able to let go of my worries and want to fit in (haha for the most part?), though I’d be lying if I said a part of me wouldn’t absolutely love to be making money off my writing and getting sent free hiking shoes or plane tickets or fancy pens. I want that stuff! I do! It’s just not the thing driving me right now.
Right now, I want to travel and write to make people laugh, think, and maybe inspire them to find some adventures themselves.
In two years, I might be writing about the latest wedding trends, and in five years I’ll most likely be writing about how I won the lottery and married Penn Jillette and all he does is read books to me and tell me how beautiful I am.
Hey. It’s MY fantasy. I can make it whatever *I* want.