G Adventures asked me what it means to make your next step count. Well, little did they know HOW much that has been on my mind lately. Are you ready?
Sometimes I feel like I am leading two lives. I have my “real” life and my “social media” life.
On one hand I have gotten to know so many people through my work on this blog. Most of these guys I would recognize from their Instagram page or Twitter profile picture before recognizing them at a bar. Most of them are expats or digital nomads, people working remotely and traveling the world at the same time. Nonetheless, they are still friends and I feel like they can understand me in a way that others don’t.
Then on the other hand I have what people like to call my “real life,” my non-internet friends and family; the ones I see day to day in Wanaka or even back home. Most of my close friends my age are working their way up the career ladder, are getting married and having kids (OMG I’m getting old) and have settled into a comfortable routine where I don’t seem to quite fit in.
I am not going to lie, for the past 6 months or even a year, I have been really struggling with straddling both of these worlds. Where do I belong?
To avoid thinking about this, I’ve kept busy with travel and work. We are told being busy is a good thing, right? Well, I have no shortage of being busy in 2015, that’s for sure.
I love travel so much but I am getting burnt out. I’ve discovered I can’t be on the road for extended periods when I am working at the same time. I start to lose my mind and I find that I become completely unproductive and uninspired. Hotels start to blur together and I forget what month it is and I can’t remember where I am when I wake up. Too much travel is definitely possible, and I find, at least for me, that TOO MUCH time on the road can devalue some of my experiences.
Remember that when you think about making travel your job, guys.
Is it worth it?
Gone are the vacation days, and trips without laptops or iPhones. Man, I just want to travel for myself again, with no obligations to anyone but me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m living two different lives.
Generally, my happiest is when I am home in Wanaka when my time is my own again and I can truly enjoy just being in the most beautiful place in the world. Having a home makes me feel balanced – it’s like an investment in my sanity.
While my other happiest is when I am on the road with no obligations whatsoever. I think the last time that happened was when I was in Mongolia and I had no internet for weeks and nothing looming over my head except to have a good time. It was on of those life-changing trips that people like me are always talk about.
We need more of those right?
I just realized in just 1 week I am headed back home for the holidays for the first time in years. That means 2015 is basically over, and OMG where did the time go? Like seriously, WHERE DID IT GO? Last time I checked, it was April.
2015 passed by in the blink of eye – it was a year of being busy – have you ever had that happen to you? I can barely remember this year and I have to look at my journals and calendars remember everything. WTF.
Ever since I quit my job to travel a few years ago, I promised myself that I would make every day count and that I would live a life where every moment mattered and everything I did was unforgettable.
A month ago when I was in between jobs, where I literally walked off a 30 hour flight after 10 days of 4 hours of sleep per night, only to drive home, wash my clothes, sleep then get back on another plane the next morning. My poor brain and body couldn’t cope. Cue meltdown.
How was I ever going to catch up on all my work I owed everyone? How would I ever reply to all those emails? How would I ever dig myself out of this hole? When would I have time to do the things I wanted to do? The pressure is too much, and as you can probably imagine, things go downhill rather fast once you slip into that mindset – my photos are shit, my work is shit, I’m shit.
On top of that I felt the pressure of the millions of you guys who tell me how lucky I am, making me feel guilty for not being more grateful.
What more can I do?
And then fate intervened and I got a comment on my blog basically saying the same things swirling around that dark place in my mind. Something along the lines of “dear Liz, you suck. Your blog sucks. You’re a terrible human and the work you do sucks. We all hope you fail. Regards, Troll. P.S. did I mention you suck?”
I lost it. I was sitting on my bed with my suitcase open, and I couldn’t see my floor because of all my stuff thrown everywhere when I had my first ever asthma attack quickly followed by a full fledged panic attack. It was ugly, guys. No one will ever accuse me of being a pretty crier.
I don’t think I had been that stressed or physically exhausted since college, and I certainly didn’t quit my job to “follow my dreams” only to be sleepless, anxious and kinda unhappy.
I needed a break from the stress of work, the pressure to always be busy, and the anxiety of success. How terrible is it to work harder than you ever have in your whole life and still feel like you aren’t doing enough? Have you ever hit a low point like this?
I don’t think I am alone in this. I believe we live in a world that glorifies being busy instead of prioritizing the important things. And you know what? That freaking sucks.
“How are you doing Liz?” “Oh, I’m great thanks! I’ve been super busy doing this and that and this and that because I’m superwoman and I’m AWESOME! Sleep is for losers and if I stop what I am doing I might actually have time to think and I might see that life is really fucking hard and if I step away from this comfortable path I’m on, well things will get real scary real fast, and I don’t know if I can deal with that, OK?”
Being busy does not equate to being happy. I really believe we need to stop being busy and start living again. Then happiness will come.
We live in an age where we are too busy, especially women, and we are always on the go.
Even me, a girl who said goodbye to a great job, a lovely family, and even to a boyfriend in the hopes of having a richer (metaphorically speaking obviously) and more fulfilling life in New Zealand, can get caught up in the hustle of the game sometimes.
Um, I am pretty sure that’s what I was trying to avoid. Ugh.
That being said (and I want you guys to be totally honest here), I don’t think I am alone in feeling this way. Hands up if you have experienced a quarter life crisis; or maybe you feel like you’re too busy to actually stop what you’re doing and evaluate where you are and where you want to be.
So similar to my argument about why experience still matters, I want to take the time to remind myself and to remind you guys about how important it is to make things count.
Make every day count, make every day memorable. Now please excuse me as I start to get inspirational and run away with myself. Deep breath.
At some point in our lives we are all faced with a choice – to continue down that comfortable road we’ve always known (a very busy road for most of us, I’m sure) OR to stop and really think about what we want out of life and what we can do to get us there AND here’s the tricky part, committing to make it happen.
And I think for most of us the answer can be found in travel.
How many people talk about trips that have changed their lives versus how many people actually booked it and made it happen?
A year ago Mongolia changed my life, and I have yet to really put any of those goals I talked about into action yet. It’s time to change it and focus on what I really want.
My point is this month I stopped everything that was causing me stress and anxiety, put myself first and really evaluated where I wanted to be, and where I wanted to go. I even learned to say no (I even turned down a trip to Kenya, one of the hardest things I’ve done) in the hopes of prioritizing future travel by taking less smaller trips and only go on the big life-changing ones I’m dreaming of.
Right now I want nothing more than to go back to a place like Mongolia or somewhere where I can travel slowly and have no internet connection. I’d love to do a physically challenging trip like hiking across Greenland or go somewhere I can learn a new skill like mountaineering in Switzerland or becoming a rescue diver in Thailand. I’d love to even go volunteer abroad again and feel like I am actually doing some good in this world.
So where am I going with all this rambling?
I just wanted to share with you guys my own experiences lately with getting caught up in the hustle of life and why I decided to slow down and reevaluate what exactly I want. We are a generation of women who are too busy for travel or to follow our dreams; we are always on the go because that’s what we are told is successful. But is that a good thing?
It’s important to stop and evaluate where you are, and even if you are holding yourself back from following your travel dreams.
Simply put, we are all faced with a clear choice that’s one of the most difficult to make – to continue living an ordinary life, one of following others footsteps and taking the easy path, or take the next step, and even possibly follow your travel dreams come true like on a trip with G Adventures, and maybe have an extraordinary life. It’s up to us. Make your next step count!
Have you ever suffered from a burnout or quarter-life crisis? Do you feel like you are just so busy and not even really experiencing things anymore? Where’s your dream trip? Spill and share in the comments below!
G Adventures is giving away the trip of a lifetime on one of their tours to three lucky winners who want to make their next steps count. Contest details here. Good luck!
**PS I have had a lot of people asking, this contest is only open to Australian and New Zealand residents.
7/12/2015 – UPDATE – The G Adventures ‘Make Your #NextStep Count’ competition has now closed but you still have a chance to take the next step and choose to travel with a purpose. For more information visit here. Thanks!