Earlier this year I made a list of things I like to do most. It might seem a bit silly to have to physically write down something like that, but I was attempting to structure my new year’s resolutions around the things that make me happiest and writing it down seemed to make the process a bit easier. Leaving off the obvious, like family, here was my list in no particular order:
There are more things I enjoy, obviously, but these were the ones I wanted to focus on this year since they were the ones that were currently making me happiest. (This is where we pause so you can laugh at me for including food on my list. Okay, moving on.) I made a lot of great resolutions for 2014, believing that if I stuck with all of them, I would have my happiest year ever. My resolutions all revolved around the things I loved the most, so why wouldn’t that make me happy? I was unprepared for what happened next.
Very quickly, I started to get overwhelmed. I was trying to learn too many new things at the same time, keep up with everything and everyone I’d made commitments to (both within and outside of my resolutions), plus still continue to fully perform all the duties required when you’re someone’s mother. I had taken on so much that I was actually having to write things like ‘take a shower’ in my planner and set an alarm to remind me when to pick Lex up from school so I wouldn’t forget. I continued on like this for months thinking I’d eventually find a good rhythm I could settle into, but it just wasn’t happening. I was exhausted, and completely astonished that the year that was supposed to make me blissfully happy was making me miserable.
A few weeks ago, I finally admitted that something had to give. The hard part was deciding what to let go of. I loved everything I was doing, I just didn’t have enough time. The only thing I was unwilling to budge on was travel. Those who don’t travel may not realize just how much time and research goes into planning these trips we take, but it’s truly like a part-time job. I enjoy it, but it is a lot of work. And since we’re only guaranteed another two years here in London, which means only another definite two years of being able to travel around Europe relatively cheaply, we’d be silly not to take advantage of that.
So then I started looking at how I could alter everything else to relieve some of my stress. I quit my gym membership, walking club, yoga, and personal training sessions, and instead went back to running and working out on my own time. I made the difficult decision to discontinue my Spanish night classes. I had completed 40 hours and could have taken 80 more to complete the course, but I feel confident enough now to continue learning on my own, with a little help from my Spanish-speaking friends at Lexie’s school.
I thought that cutting out just these things, which clearly took up a lot of time, would make me feel better, but then I realized something else was bothering me. I’d been too busy to even realize it, but somewhere along the way, blogging had stopped being fun. It had started feeling a whole lot like work. I was only writing three days a week, but for some reason I was starting to dread those three days. And the anxiety I’d feel every morning when I opened my email to find fifty new messages when I’d just cleared it out the night before was crushing. I really had to stop and think, when did writing about our travels stop bringing me joy?
And then it hit me. I knew exactly when it happened. I stopped enjoying blogging the minute I started caring if anyone read it or not. I blogged for years simply for myself. Blogging was my scrapbook of photos from our life in Tennessee and our move abroad, and my online journal. (Although a bit more impersonal, because this is the internet after all.) But after I arrived in London and met a few bloggers who had been travel blogging for some time and were receiving free outings, travel, and other compensation for their blogs, I started to think that maybe I could be doing that, too. I asked these bloggers what they were doing and I started following their instructions to the letter.
I created social media accounts for my blog, even though it went against my better judgment. (Read more about my social media boycott. I still agree with every single word I wrote two years ago.) I started keeping to a schedule of posting because I was told consistency and a constant flow of content, especially in the beginning, is key. I diligently put together a media kit and added a page to my blog specifically for PR and media reps. I started researching information on blogging platforms, SEO, and page rank. I downloaded Google Analytics and even attempted, unsuccessfully, to figure out how to use it.
And you know what? It worked. I went from receiving around 1,000 page views a month to 26,000 a month in less than seven months. (I must mention, 26,000 page views is nothing to write home about. I was mostly just impressed by the speed at which the page views grew.) But you know, that rise in page views didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would because all the work it took to get there was really freaking exhausting. All that work, just to start getting things for free. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for those who actually intend on making money from their blogs.
The amount of time and effort needed to grow a blog is just too much for me, especially right now when my main priority isn’t myself. In two months, Lexie will be out for the summer, and I know with absolute certainty that I do not want to be spending those precious summer days in front of the computer or constantly checking my phone. I want it to be just like last summer where we woke up with absolutely no clue what we were going to do that day, but we knew whatever we did, we’d make it fun.
So where does that leave this blog? To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure yet. Blogging is like any other business, at certain points along the way you have to stop and reassess in what direction you want it to go. As for now, I will continue to share here, but only when I feel like it. Some weeks I may be able to write three times, but if I can’t, I won’t beat myself up about it. And if I want to write a post that isn’t full of pretty pictures and it’s too long (like this one) I’ll do it. The goal here is to get back to the way I felt about blogging when I did it just for me.
This next part makes me a bit sad, but it’s absolutely necessary – I also won’t be able to read everyone else’s blogs as much as I have been. Before we moved to London, I read 10 blogs regularly. I’m now up to 80! I just can’t keep up with that anymore. As guilty as it makes me feel, I have to place my priorities elsewhere. I’ll still be around from time to time, but I want anyone who notices the absence of my comments on their blog to know that it has absolutely nothing to do with your blog, it’s simply that I have other things needing my focus right now.
When I was talking to Cory about this the other day, I brought up how embarrassing it was that I almost never stick with anything for very long – jobs, hobbies, even the places we live. When I get bored and want to do something new, I quit, every time. This means I know a little bit about a lot of things, but I know nothing very well. That’s a tad distressing for me, as a 30-year-old, to admit. But, like Cory brought up, it also means I know how to prioritize my happiness, and he’s right. If there’s anything worth being in life, it’s happy, and I have always made the necessary changes to stay that way, even if it made me a “quitter”. So if these changes don’t relieve some of the stress I feel, then I’ll know it’s time for me to part ways with the blogging world, but I’m not quite there just yet.
Well done, you. You managed to make it through this entire post. I should have told you to make a cup of tea first. Anyone else ever feel this way about blogging?