Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
While I’m 100% aware of how fortunate and blessed I feel every morning to wake up and do what never really feels like work, I think there’s a voice missing from the conversation that’s so important, especially if you’ve ever found yourself scrolling through my or another traveler’s Instagram feed, feeling inadequate about your own life.
Whether to my face or to my inbox, I hear that I’m “living the dream” every single day, and while I try to be excited about confirming their observation, I can’t help but cringe inside, because I don’t think people really take into account how much of a price is paid to live said “dream”.
Like anything worth having in life, there will be trials, obstacles, road blocks, but most importantly, fears that usually hinder most from the initial pursuit.
And while I know several others “living the dream” might not feel as comfortable talking about the negative aspects of this lifestyle, y’all know I’m an open book, and I always try to foster inspiration from my transparency more than anything else.
Living the dream ultimately comes at a price, but I knew it was one I was willing to pay. But what exactly are those costs and sacrifices? Let me try to break it down in cute terms.
The Currency of Criticism
For any writer starting out, the first time you press ‘publish’ on a piece of your innermost thoughts, you’re literally opening yourself up to a world of criticism, and the thought makes you want to sh*t yourself, which I don’t recommend, however tempting/gratifying it may sound.
And this is where Stay-At-Home-Steve and Hate-The-World-Holly come out of the woodworks to nitpick and criticize every waking detail about your articles, your travels, or even your outfits. Like, seriously? What did my $5 thrift store top do to draw such negativity from Nancy-The-Nobody?
Strangers feel entitled to tell you how much you suck, and this is hoping they even read past the title of your articles, because newsflash: most won’t.
They’ll channel their inner-jealousy into half-coherent thoughts, and they’ll stalk every single social media channel you have to remind you how much they can’t stand you. It’s so adorable.
While some may call that borderline obsessed, I just hope it’s not too late for somebody to hug them in life. They’re just deprived and I’m confident their happiness is a few bear hugs away. Keep searching for those standing cuddles my laughable lilies. Somebody in this world loves you. It ain’t me. But hey, somebody!
If you have time, check out the round-up I did of my Top 10 Hate Comments From 2016, as I show these fools who’s boss. Sassy Pants all the way on.
The most recent hate mail I got was actually pretty funny. A gal found my Instagram and proceeded to flood my inbox with several questions, haphazardly, lacking any sort of fluidity.
When I suggested she send me one big email with all her messages so I can answer accordingly, she scoffed and literally sent me eight separate emails, each a copy and paste of the individual messages she originally sent, defeating the purpose of sending an email to begin with.
WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE YOU EXIST AND CAN YOU GO AWAY FOREVER?
But alas, I had some
alcohol downtime, so I got back to her a day later with some general tips, pointers, and linked her to articles where I wrote answers to the very questions she had, in detail and everything.
I didn’t write you so that you could link me to articles. I wrote you so that you could answer me directly.
She is so lucky I found Jesus. She never heard from me again and I blocked her on Instagram to make sure she didn’t benefit from any more free information I posted.
The Payment of Pressure
There’s this inherent pressure from being a travel blogger or online influencer that makes you feel like you should always be doing something.
You need to always be engaging with your audience. You need to always be pumping out content. You need to always be “on”. And while I don’t know anybody who does that better than Nas Daily and his insanely popular 1-minute videos, I simply can’t be that person.
I’ll burn myself out and I’m okay with not flying my Wonder Woman cape for a few days to fall into a sleep coma, and pretend adulthood is more of an aspiration than a reality.
Not to mention, I’m a ball of estrogen, throwing myself into a world that continues to manhandle me in the best way possible (hey-ohhh!), loving me and leaving me, as I find myself falling head over heels with cities that I have to break up with a few days later.
And if you think traveling solves your problems, lol, that’s cute.
If anything, it exposes them. Because if you have anger problems at home, try having those same issues in a country where you don’t speak the local language.
But it’s okay to allow yourself to have your human moments, take a break from social media, or go on an emotional rant about something that tugs strongly at your heart.
But no matter what you do or what you say, people will always be watching, and you have to make sure to exercise caution and responsibility with the platform you’ve built.
It’s actually the people that aren’t showing up in your notifications that are watching you the most — and that’s what makes things tricky. Lurkers be lurkin’ yo.
And while I don’t want to be held to a higher standard than the next 26-year old, I understand it comes with the territory, and that’s something I try to work on daily.
But sometimes, it’s just easier to say F&% IT. As in, FIX IT. Jesus. What were you thinking?
The Funds of Freedom
If you’ve never had to chase a company down for six months because they “forgot” to pay you, man, you really oughta live life more on the edge! Ha.
Don’t get me started on the companies that pay you on a 90-day cycle. “Thanks for all the work you did for us in February! Here’s your check!” *deposits in June*
In a saturated industry of newbies throwing free work to brands left and right in hopes for sponsored work down the line, you have to constantly justify your worth when you get daily emails from marketers trying to access your audience “without a budget”. Oh the joys!
As you’ve spent years fostering an engaged community, perfecting your Instagram gallery, or just mastering your writing, photography, or digital ninja skills, that’s a tangible thing that you put your creativity into and 100% deserves adequate compensation for.
But Marketing-Maven-Marsha still thinks that exposure to her [unengaged] 500 Facebook fans is a fair trade. Oy.
Mix tedious back and forth negotiating with chasing down months’ old payments, and it makes for a hell of a stress-free life, amirite?
I’ve learned the hard way that I needed to start requiring half the payment upfront, and while you will probably sound like a pain for that (and sometimes they will let you know it, ha), it’s a small step in the right direction of asserting yourself as a business[wo]man.
But when you first start out navigating the waters of entrepreneurship and digital nomadness, the amount of times you have to reach inside your
ass magic hat to pull out a random number that defines something you’ve dedicated the better part of your life to, will happen more times than you can count.
And sure, we might be able to wake up when we want, but we’re also never really not working… if that makes sense.
You see, if you have a 9-5, you can essentially disregard any and all work-related things when your foot is not inside that office.
But because digital nomads have no office, everywhere is essentially our work place. And while I’d like to pretend I’m one of those people who spend hours on the beach, laptop handy, goodness gracious, have you guys tried playing damage control when sand gets on your laptop?
Have you ever felt your laptop overheating from being in the sun so long and subsequently burning your thighs to feel like the grilled meat you never knew they were?
How do people even see the screen when the sun is glaring right over it? Questions That Need Answers For 500, Alex.
I don’t think I’ve ever been productive working at the beach, but hey, lemme post this sessy ass photo to the ‘gram ‘gram anyway, because hashtag, LIFE GOALS for the peasants!
But it’s really not about that. And I try to be as transparent about the plus sides as much as the down sides. And that’s why I’m writing this article.
Speaking of downsides, anybody wanna take a peak at my savings account? Like, what is that even? Yo no hablo the language of savings.
But if the nightmare sacrifices are still worth the dream life, then I absolutely encourage you to still pursue it! Again, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything, and the day this all starts feeling like work, is the day I’ll have to sit down and reconsider the direction of my life. But alas, the wheels have not fallin’ off, so this bad boy will keep on truckin’.
If you’re a fellow online influencer in the travel industry, I’d love to hear some of the other sacrifices you’ve made to live your dream in the comments below!
So yes, I may be “living the dream“, but I hope you can also see that beyond the beauty of this journey, there will be chaos, struggles, and failures, but ironically enough, I’m able to see the beauty in that too 😉