Now, I know what you’re thinking. What a pretentious blog post title! I can’t argue with you there. But I really mean it, that blogging saved me that is. Seriously.
And I mean “saved” in a good way, not the whole Bible-carryin’-crucifix-
Where do I even begin?
Do you ever feel like you are floating through life, unhappy with what you are doing but unsure of where you want to be?
I always felt like I was waiting for something to happen. Waiting for some perfect ray of sunlight to burst through the clouds and illuminate my face one day, and then I would just KNOW; oh yes, that’s what I am supposed to be doing with my life.
Well, that was me up until a year ago. I didn’t even realize how unhappy I was until I was happy. Does that even make sense?
It hit me about a month ago when I went to see Les Miserables. About halfway through Anne Hathaway’s performance of “I dreamed a dream,” I was sobbing, with big old tears running down my face, mascara everywhere, like some overgrown blonde panda. Sniffling and wiping all my make-up off my face 3 minutes later, I had a stunning realization.
I couldn’t remember the last time I cried. Like really cried. It had to have been at least a year. For me, this was huge. Growing up, I was a weeper, a stubborn, moody only child, prone to tantrums and tears. It didn’t get better when I got to college, in fact, it was way worse. Combined with a disgusting coarse load and an overachieving competitive mindset fostered at my fancy pants university, I was in for 4 years of hell.
And you know what made it worse? Boyfriends.
Some significant people (who shall remain nameless) used to tell me I was missing direction in my life. Ok, f*** you, I have direction. I want to make money and travel the world. If that’s not direction, I don’t know what is.
So I said goodbye to my American life, sold all my stuff, and moved back to Spain for two years. Except I still had a boyfriend in NYC. Mistake #1.
Take note people! I am going to dish (word vomit) all about my love life on here, something I never do. A. because people who overshare their relationships online are annoying and B. because I prefer to throw those skeletons in a closet and forget about them forever.
However, I can’t do that here because my ex-boyfriends have all been a huge part in helping me find myself through writing. So thanks, assholes.
I started my blog my senior year of college (2010) before traveling to Peru with an ex. You should start to notice a pattern here, that pattern being I’m an idiot when it comes to dating. By the time I boarded a flight at JFK to Europe, I was head over heels in another relationship. What was I thinking?
Needless to say, my first year back in Spain in Córdoba was miserable. Late-night skype sessions, text messages and emails, and too-short international visits didn’t cut it. Cue, a weepy, moody, over-emotional Young Adventuress. Again. Things started to go downhill after I spent Christmas in NYC; I didn’t even want to go back to Spain. I’m pretty sure I cried all the way through customs, and the first hour of my flight to Madrid until the red wine and 3 Tylenol PMs I took kicked in.
All this time I started blogging. I had a little Blogspot account that I would update a few times a month with 5,000 word posts with 50 photos about the history behind the places I was traveling to. Really fascinating, I’m shocked that I didn’t win any newbie blogger awards (read: sarcasm).
Eventually I started to write more and more, and I would choose topics that were not necessarily narrative accounts of the places I visited (which is what many new bloggers tend to do, myself included). I barely used Twitter, I didn’t know what Instagram was, and the only blogs I read were about fashion and food.
By spring I faced a dilemma. Renew my visa and stay in Spain for another year or give up and come home. This was a really, really really gut-wrenching decision to make, and it took me many months of doubt and regret afterwards to realize it was the right one.
I had been really depressed for most of that year in Spain, and not only because of the guy back home. It seemed nothing was going right; I had problems with my coworkers and roommates, and overall, I was just sad. It was if Spain wasn’t living up to my expectations. I was so homesick, and I felt like I was missing out on having a normal life like other girls my age. I would spent my free time at work looking up apartments in New York and picking out my dream furniture at IKEA. I hated being poor, I hated that I couldn’t invest in anything for my apartment or life in Spain because who knew when I would be leaving, but most of all, I missed him.
We were drifting apart, and I blamed myself for it. I felt like I finally had the chance for love and happiness, something most girls dream about, but I was throwing it away on some stupid fantasy of travel and Spain, a fantasy that wasn’t even living up to expectations. He had made it perfectly clear that things would be very different if I was still living in the US, which made things that much more worse. Should I just give up on Spain and move home, with the hope that our relationship would improve? Or should I stay and give Spain a second chance?
During the spring I started blogging more and more. Writing became an outlet for me when I didn’t want to deal with those dark thoughts.I started to travel around locally, trying to see Spain in a new light. I distracted myself with new friends, hanging out with kids my age in the village where I worked. Eventually people started to respond to my writing. People were listening to what I had to say, and left warm, fuzzy comments (most of the time). With the spring sunshine and flowers, new hope and possibility grew within me.
Then I did something really naughty. I renewed the program and didn’t tell him. Things weren’t going well, and what if I gave up on Spain, moved home for him, and we still failed? I would regret that choice forever. But I wanted one last chance. By the time I came to NYC that summer, he knew I had renewed the visa, and I could tell we were done, though it dragged on for months before we finally cut off contact with each other.
That was the year I chose travel over a relationship. And it took me another year not to regret it.
How do you get over something like that? By that point in my life, I had had not one, but TWO boyfriends tell me they didn’t want a girlfriend traveling and living abroad for so long. Talk about a sucker-punch, right at what’s the most important thing to me. How do you move on from that? Breaking up to travel is one of the hardest decisions you might I ever have to make, but I knew if I had moved back to the US, I would have resented my decision and resented him. I’m not going to lie, it made me bitter and angry for a long time. To me, it seemed like I was following my dreams and being punished for it. Why couldn’t I have both? If I chose a life of travel, was I destined to be alone forever?
I chose not to believe that, even after all of this. In my heart I have to believe when I meet the right person, it won’t matter where I am living or what my travel plans are. Now folks, while this is something I have come to realize myself, it still makes me want to punch anyone in the throat who tells me, “oh hunnay, don’t worry. You’re young, you’ll meet someone.”
Am I allowed to have priorities and goals in life that AREN’T finding a boyfriend?
I’m a real catch, gentlemen. Just line up at the door, no shoving.
Anyways, I think you all know how the story ends; I moved back to Spain, this time to Logroño in the north, and had without a doubt the most fantastic year of my life.
And what kept me sane those dark months? My blog. It became my passion. Putting all my thoughts and feelings, and most importantly, my travel and expat advice on my blog, and seeing its success was beyond satisfying. When I was sad, I would write, though sometimes I would drink first.
I was mostly single for that year, with a few dates and flings here and there but nothing serious. And that was the best medicine. A year of being alone with yourself is one surefire way to get to know yourself real well. I really recommend it to anyone. How can you ever get to know yourself if you are constantly with another person?
Ladies, joining in on Italian bachelor parties just doesn’t happen when you’re in a serious relationship
I didn’t realize how lost I was when I was in those relationships. I forgot who I was, what my goals and dreams were. The number one girl-code was broken: I let my happiness be defined by a boyfriend. A big no-no. But by scribbling on my blog a few times a week over the course of two years, I rediscovered myself, and reevaluated what was important to me. I found my passion: travel blogging. And no one was ever going to yank it away from me.
Cue Katy Perry. This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me!
I’m a young twenty-something girl. I have my whole life ahead of me to get married and do the baby thing. Even buy my dream bed from IKEA. I’m not some radical female spurning men and children for the sake of “independence.” I want all those things, but not yet.
Right now I am determined to have the most memorable years of my life, doing what I love: traveling and writing. And anyone who makes me feel bad for that is a douche and isn’t worth being in my life.
It only took Anne Hathaway making me cry publicly at the movies for it all to finally sink in.
Have you ever felt the same way? Has a relationship ever made you reevaluate your life? What’s your passion? What keeps a smile and your face and motivating you to get out of bed in the morning? Share!
**All quote images came from my Pinterest words page