I haven’t published anything in two weeks on this blog, and for that I’m sorry. You guys deserve better.
The reason for it is that I need to tell you something, and I don’t know how. Something that has been weighing on my mind for awhile now; eating me up. Most of the time, when I write something, I’m pretty confident what sort of response I’m going to get from it.
But now I need to say something and I’m not sure what you’re going to think. So I’ll just jump right in.
Most travel bloggers’ About Me snippet starts with “I’ve been traveling the world for [x amount of] years. Travel is my passion and this blog is about my experiences.”
Yeah. That’s the right way to do it, folks.
I started this blog for all the wrong reasons.
No, scratch that, I started a blog for the right reason – to inspire everyone who feels stuck to get out of their comfort zone, shock their systems, and take the first steps toward changing their life.
I started a travel blog because I had just lost my job, I was about to head out on my first solo long-term travel adventure, and I thought, “Hey, a travel blog might be a way to earn some extra cash.”
So, in true Mandie fashion, I threw myself into it. Half-assing something just isn’t in my vocabulary. I jump in head first and rarely look before I leap. (Note to self: might want to start looking first.)
I joined networking groups. I promoted myself all across the social media wastelands. I contributed to link-ups, did guest posts, gave interviews. And you know what?
It worked. I started getting readers. And comments. And shares. And traffic. This is what bloggers want, right?!
But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Or something like that.
I realized that this blog had stopped feeling like mine.
Parents, I get you now. You give life to this beautiful little creature that you pour your love, and soul, and wisdom into. You nurture it, you obsess over it, you want nothing but the best for it. And then…it starts to grow up. Becomes its own little person, and suddenly you realize it doesn’t belong only to you anymore; it’s part of the world now.
(Chill, I’m not calling your precious snowflake an ‘it;’ the English language simply lacks an decent gender-neutral pronoun.)
So, I’m okay with this blog growing up and taking on a life of its own. Growth is a good thing.
But…it scared me. I never set out to travel continuously forever, and now that I’m home it’s getting really hard to write travel-related posts. I know there are people who stay put in one spot and maintain a travel blog, and my hat is truly off to you. I don’t know how you do it.
At the moment I’m not traveling to any places I think you guys would be interesting in reading about. (If anyone is interested in the booming tourist destinations of Danville, Illinois, Conway, Arkansas or Churubusco, Indiana, by all means let me know!)
I haven’t written much lately on this blog for a few reasons.
1. I felt like it needed to live up to certain expectations that I could no longer meet. I felt like all the people sharing my content expect these epic travel posts. Sometimes, I just don’t have them in me. Sometimes all I have is truth, and it ain’t always pretty. Which brings me to number 2.
2. When I left my job, I wrapped my whole identity up in being a traveler. I thought, “Okay, this is who I am now. I travel.” Then I came home and WHAM. I felt like a gigantic failure. (Hellooooo, my old friends, Depression and Apathy.)
3. And finally, I’ve pulled way back from my blogging community because, as much as I want to support other bloggers….I haven’t really wanted anyone to share my recent content. Sure, I worked really hard on it. But it came from me scrounging Google and scouring other travel blogs to come up with something – anything – travel-related to write about instead of a place where I’m genuinely talking about something I’m excited about.
A very popular “how-to blog” blogger once said that the way to be mediocre was to worry about being authentic. He also said that the only posts worth writing are popular ones. Both of these statements clearly made an impact on me, and not in a good way.
But then…I had an epiphany.
Why the hell was I listening to someone who made me feel like sh*t??
I left the corporate world because it felt completely devoid of authenticity, and now you’re telling me that my blog has to be, too? Well, screw you, buddy.
I would rather be “mediocre” and authentic than “great” and totally contrived. I’d rather this blog never make a single cent if it means I have to pretend to be someone I’m not.
So I did what I should have done in the first place. I unsubscribed from his mailing list and made my own list of people who actually inspired me. From now on, I’m just going to listen to those people.
People like Tim Ferriss, who conducts lifestyle experiments in order to do less, but more of what matters.
Maria Popova, who gets 7 million hits a month just by “reading and writing about things she finds interesting.”
Scott Dinsmore, who has created a community of “living legends” by inspiring people to change the world by doing work they love.
Jaime Buckley, who is one of the most open and authentic people I’ve ever met and writes about everything from parenting to fantasy to writing advice to basic life inspiration.
If this blog is going to grow, I need to make sure it’s growing in the right direction; a direction where I can continue to guide it and nurture it and watch it grow even more. Which brings me to my confession:
I am not a travel blogger.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE travel. I adore it. It changed my life.
But I am a dead lousy travel blogger.
I don’t write about where to go or what to do or what to eat or how to pack. I’m shamefully bad at writing descriptive pieces about the destinations that I visit. I don’t write hotel reviews. (Err, Joe’s couch was great but the neighborhood was a little secluded…)
I’ve also come to the realization that, while my “20-something broke backpacker” trip was amazeballs, it’s not the way I want to travel in the future. Can you travel the world for very little money? Yes, you can, but I think I have outgrown that.
The next time I set out into the world, I’d like to have a little bit of a cash cushion. I’d like to be able to stay in an actual hotel if I feel like it. I’ll still Couchsurf and crash in hostels some of the time, but I want it to be a choice, not the only option I can afford.
I’d like to be able to eat in an actual restaurant. To be able to afford adventures like zip-lining in Croatia. I missed out on a lot of things because I couldn’t afford them.
The truth is guys, I don’t know squat about how to travel, and I’m completely unequipped to give advice on where you should do or what you should go. I’m still learning all of this myself!(Whew, feels good to get that one off my chest.)
What I do know how to do is take control of my life. To change what needs to change in it. To try new things. To get out of my comfort zone, make new friends, and challenge myself to grow.
Another thing I’m really good at is seeing patterns. I can only assume this is a result of growing up with a philosophy professor father who played ‘logic games’ at the dinner table.
I took a good look at my Inspiring People list and figured out what they all have in common.
They all write about what it means to live a good life.
All in different ways, through different methods and different topics. But it really all boils down to that.
For me, travel is a part of that, absolutely. But it’s not the only part.
I was recently interviewed by Frank Macri for a series called Travel Babble and we got to chatting “off the record.” He is a life coach in-training with a passion for travel, and I am a traveler with a passion for life coaching. It was definitely one of those universe-aligning moments.
It reminded me of the dream I had when I first set off on my trip, which was to create a program that combines intensive life-coaching with adventure travel.
So…to sum it up, that’s where I’m headed and I’m bringing the blog with me. I’ve explored (and will continue to explore) the travel aspect, but from now on this is going to be a little more of a life blog; a study on what it means to live a good life. And yes, I’m going to practice my life coaching skills. Muahaha.
So…while some of my posts may have to do with travel, others won’t. Deal with it. 😛
(To all of my wonderful friends in the travel blogging community: don’t feel obligated to share non-travel posts if they aren’t relevant to your readers. I’ll still love you! I’ll also still link-up to your blogging parties whenever I do share something travel-related.)
The thing about dreams is that they change; they evolve; they grow with you.
Every now and then you need to do a little self-check to make sure you’re still on the right road; the best road to get to where you want to be. And if you discover you’re inadvertently driving through a metaphorical Kansas then you might need to change direction.
(Sorry, Kansas, but you are the most agonizingly dull state to drive through.)
My ‘confession’ probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to you wonderful non-blogging readers, but other bloggers will understand what a struggle it is to clarify your niche. And mine just isn’t travel blogging, so I thought I should let you all know. Because you, my dear friends, deserve authenticity. And it makes me happy. So there.
By the way, if you’re interested in working with me to build an ‘Adventure Coaching’ program, please head on over to my contact page and shoot me an email. Or just leave a comment. 🙂
(Oh, and if you can come up with a better name than Adventure Coaching, that would be great.)