Sometimes we all need a good, solid rant once in a while, right? Get things off of our shoulders, you know?
Depending on our families and circumstances in life, we are often encouraged to bottle things in and not share our true feelings or frustrations with the world. Personally, I swing back and forth on this. Most of the time, I overshare; normally I have no problems saying what I think or what’s on my mind. But oftentimes, usually depending on whom I’m with, I have to hold my tongue and pipe down.
Growing up sucks.
I am going to follow my own advice and write this for myself, first and foremost but also with the vain hope that maybe some people can relate to it.
After all, this is my own little slice of the internet which means I can say whatever the hell I want. I wish my trolls would remember that.
But I digress. It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper rant on here. We’re long overdue. If you’re looking for a pretty little travel piece filled with rainbows and unicorns, wait til Friday.
So there are two things that have been driving me nuts the past year – I hate being called lucky and I hate being told that I’m blessed.
I can’t STAND it when people tell me those things. I quietly seethe inside, my lips purse, my nose flares and turns white and I see red.
Why am I lucky exactly? And who is blessing me exactly?
But 9 times out of 10 I don’t say anything. Why? Because usually it comes from people who don’t know me, and my momma raised me to be a lady and to not talk back to strangers. Besides, first impressions are everything and I am not about to tell a potential client, partner, reader or friend that they don’t know anything and if they call me lucky again I’m going to scream and break something. After all, that’s what blogs are for, right?
People already think I’m crazy, no need to add fuel to the fire.
And don’t even get me started on the whole “blessing” thing. How am I blessed? I assume you mean I have god, Mary or baby Jesús and all the saints looking over me from above right? And if so, why is it ok to say something so religious to my face AND totally discredit all my hard work at the same time?
Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Bible Belt and had to put up with 18 years of fundamentalist doctrine shoved in my face before I could escape, but personally I find it really offensive and rude when people push their religion on people – and that’s exactly how I feel when someone tells me I’m blessed.
I don’t mean to step on any toes on here and I have zero problem with religion, but personally I feel like that kind of talk is very personal, and best kept to oneself.
Phew, I feel better already for getting that weight off my chest!
Now, I know it’s not the worst thing in the world to be called; for being a personal travel blog, I sure do get a lot of hate on here. I average being called a bitch, c*nt, and overprivileged whiny white girl about once a week. I even get death threats.
While this is a post for another day (seriously what is wrong with people?) I’ve learned over the years to toughen up and not let it get to me, and most importantly, laugh. In the wise words of Miss Tay Tay, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
Blogging has taught me that that kind of nasty behavior comes with the territory, especially if you’re going to have a blog with an opinion.
So after hearing that, being called lucky doesn’t seem too bad, does it? Then why does it bother me so much? Why can’t I take it as a compliment?
Because it undermines 5 years of hard work, that’s why. And I’m being told I’m lucky for all of the wrong reasons.
Most of the time, but not always, these flippant comments come at me on Instagram, from people who haven’t followed my story and my struggles over the years that finally led me to this amazing moment in my life where my passion for travel has turned into a profession. Is it fair or realistic of me to ask them to know that?
Over the years I’ve noticed a trend among my hate comments accusing me of being a bratty trust fund baby.
Just because I travel a lot doesn’t mean I’m loaded, people, and just because I do travel a lot doesn’t make me lucky. But more on that in a minute.
A few weeks ago I was really down in the dumps because it felt like every other comment I was getting was either criticizing me or trolling me in one way or another. I felt like I was in a rut and I was pretty depressed and not able to write anything, totally burnt out from all my work and unsure of the future, getting nothing but rejections for work and negative feeedback. It’s like when you’re having a bad day and everything seems to attack you at once.
Then somehow I found myself being the subject of conversation in a popular forum. Among other things I was called a basic bitch blogger. They went on to say how privileged I was and that my daddy probably pays for all of my trips and got me a job when I was living in DC over a year ago. This also isn’t the first time I’ve heard this either. I don’t understand where people get this shit from. When is it ever ok to make sweeping judgements and assumptions about people you don’t even know?
But at any rate, somehow because I travel means I’m rich (from the Bank of Dad) which makes me lucky. Can’t a girl travel off of hard work and make her journeys on her own? Why are people so skeptical and negative about these things?
Not that it’s anyone’s business besides my own, but my dad (my parents are divorced) hasn’t paid for anything for me in years. He didn’t even help me pay for college and I’m around $100,000 in student loan debt – yay me! I did live with him for a while when I left Spain and was working but I found the job on Craigslist. (Trolls, does it feel better to know something so personal about me? Want my bank account login while we’re at it?)
Also my parents have not always been the biggest supporters of my passion for travel and blogging and I can’t remember a single moment in my life (until recently) where I was actively encouraged by my family to keep up with my blog and follow my dream of making it into a job. I’ve always been “that one over there who has a blog.”
I learned years ago that I needed to depend on myself to get by and that I was going to do what I was going to do no matter what.
I suppose now that my parents have not gotten a call in the middle of the night with me crying saying I failed at my blog and needed to move home again at 26, I think they are starting to accept that this is how things are going to be and are more supportive. But it took a year of success and not failing astronomically for that to happen.
Besides you can’t really blame your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. Most of the time it’s because they want what’s best for you and they grew up in a time period where there wasn’t always the same flexibility or possibility of building your own career, let alone one online. It took me a long time to accept that fact.
So while I wasn’t lucky enough (see what I did there?) to be born with a silver spoon in my mouth and with a limitless credit card in my fist, I do consider myself lucky and grateful that my mom has always been my biggest fan no matter what, even when she thinks what I’m doing is a bad idea and that my dad let me live with him when I had $20 in my bank account.
If push came to shove, knowing my parents are still around no matter what choices I make makes me feel lucky. I know many people who can’t say the same and I never forget that.
My travel isn’t luck – I earn it. I’m taking this opportunity to be proud of my work and stand up for myself and the things I do. By telling me that all the travel that I do is only because of “luck,” not only are people shitting all over the 5 years of work I’ve put into this, but also stripping down all the achievements and success I’ve worked towards. Not cool.
I AM lucky I have an American passport, I’ll give you that. My passport allows me to access most countries in the world with ease, and I never, ever forget that.
Now, no one has ever accused me of being patriotic, especially as I have spent 4 of the last 6 years living and traveling overseas with no intention of ever moving back to the States and I disagree fundamentally with so many things in the US I can’t imagine living there. But at the same time I am perfectly aware I am lucky to be American.
I know this sounds really cheesy and cliche, but I grew up in the land of opportunity and I am never more aware of that than when I’m traveling.
I was lucky enough to be born in a country where I can say whatever the fuck I want. I was lucky enough to be born in a place where I didn’t have to chose between family and education and my future was my own to chose. I was lucky to be born in a land of possibility and a country of self-made people.
I’d even argue that America has more freedoms than any other country in the world (some I don’t agree with, but they are there) even more than some first world nations in Europe. In America you can be whoever you want to be, and you can change your life or your career if you want, and people support that (mostly).
Because as an American we are encouraged to stand out, take risks, work hard, be successful AND be proud of it – all of those are considered virtues. I know that’s a very simplistic statement but fundamentally, I’ve found it to be true again and again over the years. Some people say the American dream is still dead, but I don’t believe that’s true at all.
But back to the travel part.
I’ve been traveling on my own dime for the past 7 years, blogging for the past 5 years, and only in the past year and a half have I figured out how to use my blog to pay for my travels. And I’m hoping that 2015 will be the year that I learn to make enough money to save for non-travel related things, like health insurance and a car that doesn’t stall every time I start it.
I spent 3 years putting my heart and soul into this blog when I was working 50 hours a week teaching English in Spain and then a full-time job back in the US before I was able to quit. It takes serious love to come home after a 12 hour day and work til you fall asleep or spend your only days off writing and trying to figure out inane things like SEO, plugins and optimization.
And I did it all without earning a dime and spending the savings that I had to keep my blog going. Nobody besides me can ever know the sacrifices I’ve made over the years to keep this going and to follow my dreams. Nothing fell into my lap and I didn’t win the job lottery.
But we do it because we love it. And if we want it bad enough, we make it happen.
People are often under the impression I get flown around the world like a boss, take a couple of photos and have 365 days of vacation. That’s not it.
Just because I get to travel a lot for blog where I don’t have to pay for everything doesn’t mean I get it for free.
Nobody invites me anywhere for shits and giggles expecting nothing in return. Nobody. While there is a lot of work involved on a media trip, most of the work comes later for me once I’m home.
I don’t mean this in a whiny you-can’t-possibly-understand kind of way, but it’s very hard for me to show all of the effort that goes into making blogging as a job. I barely break even every month and certainly don’t save anything, and I am constantly left questioning if this or that was even worth getting for free once I finish something. Perhaps this is my fault and I should be Instagramming my long days spent hunched over my computer in my sweats and glasses more.
People are so eager to overlook and discredit the work that goes into something like this. I’ve worked far harder as a travel blogger than in any of my other jobs over the years.
It’s a 24/7 gig and you are never free from it. You don’t get to shut the door of your office at the end of the day and go home. It’s always a battle trying to maintain the passion side of the job, and it’s so easy to slip down into a hole where everything is work and nothing is fun anymore.
I think it was in Sheryl Sandberg’s awesome book Lean In where she talks about how men are more likely to credit themselves for their own successes and achievements whereas women are more likely to credit an external factor or another person. I think her example was something like this:
-Brad: “yes, I totally nailed my test because I’m awesome.”
-Sarah “I did well because my mom helped me study.”
While this might be overly simplistic and not always the case, I think there is some serious truth to this. Confidence is something we can all relate to, right? Shouldn’t we own our own achievements? Especially women?
Why should I owe my success as a travel blogger to luck? Can’t it just be because I’m awesome?
When I look at someone else doing something really cool, can’t I just see it as them having earned it somehow and not just because they are lucky? Writing this post for me is far more than just getting a weight off my shoulders, it’s about learning to be proud of the work I’ve done and gain confidence in an arena that’s always made me shaky before now.
So am I lucky? Really?
I think it’s time for all of us to start leaning in.
I worked my ass off for years and years in the small hope that I would find success in blogging. My stubborn optimism kept me going when I thought about giving up and I learned quickly to not take no for an answer and hustle when I could. Very few things just fell into my lap because of one of those “right person right time” situations, but plenty of good things happened because I made them happen.
I am not lucky that I am a full-time travel blogger. But I am incredibly lucky in many other respects.
I am lucky and privileged in my family, my upbringing, my country and possibly even in my ability to see potential and possibility instead of failure and regret. And I’m fortunate for a million things I can’t even begin to list here. But please don’t tell me I’m lucky that I get to travel. And for heaven’s sake don’t tell me I’m blessed.