I can still remember back in high school in Virginia when I had to make a choice between continuing with art or following a more university-driven curriculum. Painting 101 or AP Physics.
Fucking hell, why did I go with physics? Why???
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to draw and paint. I always preferred to play on my own and create things inside my head, reading and writing stories as often as I could, sketching out imaginary lands on the back of homework assignments.
But somewhere along the line when I was around 15, things changed. At least where I was from in Virginia, everything shifted and I found myself pushed in a more academic direction, taking more advanced classes and thinking about college applications instead of creating things.
And I don’t think I am the only one out there who’s been through this, right? What about you guys?
And over the years from high school to university to the working world (if teaching babies in Spain how to say the colors in English counts as work…right?) my paints got pushed aside for textbooks and having a degree become more valuable than creativity.
Now and then I would pick up my brushes and pens and spend hours lost in another world of art, but it’s so rare now I can’t even remember the last time I did that, which is pretty freaking sad considering I used to spend every allowance since I was a kid on water colors and canvases. However, all is not lost and I have found other ways to be creative.
Cough cough, hello blog!
So where did all this rambling come from? Out of the blue much!
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t know if you guys have noticed, I have not felt super inspired on my blog lately. I am still stoked to tell travel stories but I haven’t felt many inspirational kicks to share “bigger philosophical life” blog posts in ages. More on this soon but I am definitely in the middle of the biggest burnout I’ve ever had. Ugh.
I suppose writing and creating things is just a series of ups and downs, nothing is ever static or predictable, which makes it both awesome and infuriating in equal measure.
This week I was on a big Instagram photography trip with Craig Parry around the top of New Zealand’s South Island. We had hours to kill driving, and after I annoyed him with enough Taylor Swift, we compromised and started to listen to some TED talks in the car. You guys know I love TED talks, so I couldn’t resist.
Watching talks like these really inspire me. Like, makes me want to pull over to the side of the road and get out my laptop to start writing away inspired. Sure could use a good kick in the ass like that right about now.
My mind started to wander and I began to think about my own imagination and creative path in life, and I was able to make super easy but quite painful comparisons. All those years through high school and university; it’s almost like they are the “lost years” for me, when I was no longer creating things, just staring and analyzing the work other people had done before me, walking down the path in someone else’s life.
That is until 2010, when I started this blog.
I owe so much to this blog which has allowed me to follow my dreams over the years. I’ve even got super personal and shared how this blog saved me once, when I had to make the horrifically painful decision of following my travel dreams or staying in a relationship.
This blog is everything to me. I’ve put my heart and my soul into it. I’ve taken huge risks with it. And I’ve somehow managed to turn it into my full-time job.
Looking back, while I feel like I am not at my best right now in terms of happiness, positivity and creativity, I am going to reconcile with the fact that even now, at what feels like a low point, I am still leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I was in university.
I used to cry all the time back then, sometimes for no reason. I had a mental breakdown every couple of months and once I was so sick and depressed I had to drop out a semester of college. But I got that degree, that’s all that matters right?
What the fuck.
Little did I know that when I opened a Blogspot account in the spring of 2010 that it would lead to this. I had absolutely no idea. I started this blog as a way to document my travels digitally and so my family would have something to read when I moved to Spain a few months later. I had no idea it would eventually become my work and main passion. I was just following a curiosity I had and never thought that blogging would become my creative outlet again.
(If you want to start your own blog, check out my step by step guide!)
We all need creativity in our lives, and only now looking back do I realize how much I suffered when I put it aside. And I am not being melodramatic when I say that I truly believe blogging saved me, because it really did.
I don’t want to say that blogging is my passion. Storytelling is my passion, and right now, blogging has become my main channel for that.
My travel blog has opened so many doors for me I could never even imagined existed! In fact, blogging taught me to be creative again.
I’ve occasionally shared my thoughts on here about how to find success as a travel blogger, though now that I think about it, my main point has always been a simple one – the more creative you are, the more risks you take and things you try with travel blogger, the more successful you will be.
I know I say this a lot, but there are millions of blogs out there. You will never get anywhere if you just repeat the same old information.
I don’t know about you guys, but that bores me to death and I have better ways to spend my time. Like watching cat videos and messy hair bun tutorials.
Creativity is key to building a following and community; a fact I accidentally stumbled on with this blog. I was sick and tired (in fact, I am still sick and tired) of seeing people copy each other, repeating the same boring ass blog posts, the same stupid lists and watching the endless circle jerk that is social media. Yes, I said that word again. Oops.
Go on, tell me who the absolute very best travel bloggers are in another SEO driven list post. Thank you for your top 10 things to do in Paris list, I would have never figured that out on my own. Enlighten me please about how to get off the beaten tourist trail in Southeast Asia.
I decided I wanted to write what I wanted to read, which meant getting creative and not hiding my personality. Often I would sit down and draft out a post, only to delete and try to write it in a new way, or even better. If creativity doesn’t just come to you, you often have to push for it yourself.
No one is going to hand you a million followers, you have to earn it.
Ok, done ranting, don’t really know how that happened. Standard with me I suppose.
Anyways, even when I announced that I was going to quit my job to travel I wasn’t really encouraged beyond my social media friends. Good thing I am ridiculously stubborn and that kind of attitude only inspires me to prove everyone wrong so I can go “na na na look at me now,” very mature, I know.
But seriously, why aren’t we encouraged more to pursue creative ventures? Why aren’t we encouraged to try blogging more?
Well, I am going to encourage you now.
I’ve written quite a few posts over the years about blogging and my journey to becoming a full-time travel blogger, and Super Star Blogging has been integral to that. Through them I learned how to pitch trips, how to monetize my blog and how to find opportunities in this community. Their support networks helped me get to where I am today.
End of public blogging service announcement!
So while I might not be a writer in the traditional sense, I have 5 years worth of words and ideas scattered all over this website, that’s got to count for something right.
And I feel like I have been able to expand beyond writing into photography and even video (more on that soon). Through Instagram I have had a whole heap of opportunities and work that I could have never imagined, and I have found a new great love for sharing stories through images as well as text.
Who knew a blog could lead to all that?
How do you feel about creativity? Do you feel like you were encouraged to pursue creative things or pushed in another direction?