How Blogging Saved Me

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breaking up to travel

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-wearin’-honk-if-you-love-Jesus kind of way. Because I hate those people with the fire of a thousand suns (sorry, I’m not sorry if that’s one of you).

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.

breaking up to travel

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.

breaking up to travel

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.

breaking up to travel

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.

breaking up to travel

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.

breaking up to travel

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?

breaking up to travel

breaking up to travel

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.

breaking up to travel

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? 

breaking up to travel

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?

breaking up to travel

breaking up to travel

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!

breaking up to travel

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!

breaking up to travel

breaking up to travel

**All quote images came from my Pinterest words page

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197 Comments on “How Blogging Saved Me

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  1. People who ramble on and on about their boyfriends drive me nuts! Online or offline! But you haven’t rambled, and you’ve done a tasteful job, lady!

    I think travel brings out the independent side in all of us. If I were to compare the person I was five years ago to the person I am now, I could probably chart my personal growth. Good for you for throwing caution to the wind and doing what was best for yourself. Look at where it has gotten you :).

    1. Thank you so much! I was really nervous to write this because I have made it a point to not to talk about boys on here, but I think it was necessary to explain who I am now 🙂

  2. Did I ever feel like this?! Hombreeee when my college loverboy broke up with me for good, it was the best feeling in the world. I felt like I got some clarity into who I was and what I wanted out of life. One goal stuck out: moving abroad, so I found a way to do it.

    Meeting Kike was unexpected, but I’m thankful he lets me be who I am and encourages me to travel and blog. He’s helped me realize who I am and what I like, and we both know that it could just as easily go a different way. He said way back at the beginning of our relationship that my happiness is important, with or without him.

    As for college loverboy, he came to his senses a few years ago and asked me to consider coming back home forever to be with him. Saying no and turning on my heel felt good.

    1. Wow! I had something similar happen, I guy I dated in college messages me for the first time in years last year, ended very very badly. Not wanting to get back together or anything but just to apologize. Still felt good!

      I hope I can have what you and Kike have one day 🙂

  3. What a wonderfully written post, Liz. As much as I’m sure it was difficult to share this story, it is nice to see someone talk about the struggles involved in living abroad, pursuing your dreams and the sacrifices you have to make. Not always rainbows and butterflies 🙂

    It was so hard for me to leave my boyfriend of 3 years before I studied abroad in Granada last year, but I knew I needed to take that time to find myself and explore a land, language, and culture I am so passionate about. We broke up and I got on that plane feeling heartbroken but excited with what the city I had dreamed about while reading Lorca all these years had to offer.

    But then, on my first night out in Granada, I met the man I would fall in love with over the next 6 months. It was a whirlwind romance, one girls always dream about, falling in love with a handsome stranger in a foreign land…Even though I had left a man who I thought was the love of my life to “find myself,” within a month in Granada I was in a relationship with a local.

    Although I wouldn’t say it limited my immersion in the culture or language, in fact constantly speaking spanish with my boyfriend and his friends and having locals show me the city gave me a very unique and special experience, I definitely found myself thinking about him when I would travel on the weekends, distracting me from seeing and experiencing new places.

    My whirlwind romance ended in heartbreak for us both when I moved back to my city 3,000 miles away, and I found myself alone for the first time since I was 17. That was 8 months ago. Finding myself and defining myself outside of a relationship, priding myself on who I am, what my dreams are, and my values, as opposed to basing who I am on who loves me was one of the most difficult and painful things I’ve ever had to do, but I’ve never been happier. I focused on myself, exploring my city as if I was a tourist, trying to learn and absorb as much culture and as many lessons as I could. I’ve found that as terrifying as it is to leave someone that loves you, nothing is as valuable as the time you dedicate to pursuing what makes you happy.

    I found out 2 months ago that I was accepted to a graduate program that would allow me to spend a year studying in Madrid followed by a summer in Buenos Aires. I accepted immediately, feeling liberated in knowing that I had nothing holding me back from going after these dreams. About a week ago I got an email from CIEE notifying me that I had been accepted to teach in Andalucía.
    Meaning I had the opportunity to move back to my beloved region and, more than likely, to Granada. As much as it pained me to turn down the offer to go back to the man I love(d), I knew I had to move forward for me, for my dreams, to make myself happy. That CS Lewis quote popped into my head as I was weighing my options–“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

    The greatest gift we can give ourselves is self-love and a commitment to doing what makes us happy. I firmly believe that that’s also the greatest gift we can give our future partners. I actually wrote briefly about this in the first post of the blog I am attempting to start up, maybe I’ll share it with you when I’m ready 🙂

    Sorry for the novel of a comment, but this post really resonated with me. Spending the past 8 months reflecting and building confidence in myself has brought me to a near identical outlook, and it’s nice to see that there are other empowered women out there who share it. Especially in this college environment of whiny, needy, dependent girls scared to do anything out of their comfort zone, hahah. You’re great Liz, and I love that you own it. xx

    1. Thank you for such an amazing comment and sharing your experience with me. It is so nice to hear that other people have gone through similar experiences. I agree with you wholeheartedly! Please share more when you are ready! If you ever want to write something on here, send me am email xx

      It sounds like you are going to have an amazing year back in Spain and Argentina!

      1. Haha I’m only now realizing how over-sharey that late night comment was, but I’m glad it was well-received!

        Oh my goodness, I’d love to write something for you, I’ll definitely shoot you an email when I have something more interesting than midterms going on 🙂 Thanks girl!

      2. Ah, I needed this. I’m living in Japan for what was supposed to be a year and is now becoming a year and half…maybe. I tried to maintain a long distance relationship, and it’s been dragging ever more messily to an end. As I was watching everyone around me successfully stay in their long distance relationships, I was beginning to feel pretty lost. I’m glad that the Internet led me here, because it’s taken a weight of my shoulders. I’m not closer to finding the answers, but I’m more OK with it now. Thank you.

      3. Hi Liz,

        I broke up with my ex yesterday and am about to leave a very unhealthy relationship with my family and travel.

        Your storie strengthens me as I am afraid and question whether or not I have made the right decisions.

        I am scared if I will fail and I will be laughed at and I will be poor but here I feel stuck and bored and hurt and I just want something new.

        Thank you for sharing your story.

    2. I stumpled across your blog because I am a beginner traveler along with being a beginner blogger and I wanted to get some tips on travel blogs before I got started. After wondering through your site I must say that it is amazing! You are saying everything that I have been feeling for years and this post in particular really hit home. Unfortunately I was the chick who chose the guy over traveling…..whomp whomp whomp!

      In my undergraduate program I had the opportunity to spend a semester in London and with all of those other countries right there at your fingertips who knows what I could have experienced over there or where I would have ended up. But of course I played that same ol’ song of “I dont want to lose him. What if its over if I go. What if he cheats on me because I’m so far away?” And what do you know? We’re not even together anymore because he cheated anyway and I was only 2hours away. Shocker huh? But enough of that playlist.

      It was definitely something that I consider to be one of the biggest regrets of my life. Not so much that I missed out on a semester abroad, but the fact that I let the fear of losing a piss poor relationship dictate whether or not i was going to miss out on that semester abroad. All in all, I have received a second chance. I am in my Master’s program and with one of my business classes we are going to Mumbai and Delhi for Spring Break. I leave in about 5 days actually. Also, I will be spending the summer in Denmark with a week long course in Germany for a study abroad adventure.

      Currently I do have a boyfriend, but from my previous experience I have learned to not let men stand in my way! And I think he’s awkwardly aware of that fact because I told him I was staying over there for a little while after the sessions were over in the summer to explore Italy and other neighboring countries and he opted to join me because he knew that I wasn’t coming back!

      Thanks for the refreshing entries and pictures. I am going to continue to look around 🙂

  4. Loved this – gave me goosebumps! Love your blog – I’m planning on doing the programme this year and your blog has been soo helpful 🙂

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