My rock bottom had more sand than stone, a curving arm of Coronado beach that faced off into the embracing Pacific Ocean. While my daughter raced exuberantly with her dad, I carefully angled my cell phone for yet another ‘sexy-travel-photo-selfie.’
Ignoring the unconcerned glances of other visitors (who doesn’t take such iPhone portraits these days?) I leaned casually against an old pier wall. Marveled at the sunset. Pushed down a sudden wind-struck skirt, Marilyn-style.
While my family enjoyed the bare pleasures of shoeless feet and low tide and new places, I stressed about which image would look best on my Instagram feed. And trust me – none of them were sexy.
So this Lent, I’m giving up social media. Or maybe you could say, I’m giving up on social media. Turning off mobile notifications to create space in my life, just to write. To feel the power of a ballpoint pen in my hand, and plot how 1.5 months offline will change the direction of this blog.
But first, I need to redefine a few things:
In a post about her own month-long sabbatical, Brooke Seward (World of Wanderlust) perfectly captured the travel blogger’s on-going challenge with changing internet trends:
…I was tired of uploading because I felt I had to upload something to be interesting.
While in Trinidad last fall, I struggled with the same emotionally destructive relationship; those Instagram posts needed to appear, or people would find me boring. Not my photo library, but me.
Instead of appreciating every special minute with my mom – whose 60th birthday we were celebrating – I demanded 2-3 hours each day to edit, comment and post.
Looking back, embarrassment consumes me. At what age do we finally realize that each human life abounds with hidden intrigue, whether we visit 67 countries each year, or spend all our valuable, interesting time in one?
What’s a ‘travel blogger’?
If you gathered my Immigration entry forms over the last 10 years, it would appear that I am a Professional Exaggerator.
Under ‘Occupation’, I’ve penciled teacher, waitress, journalist, mother, freelancer, volunteer, manager. But never have I listed ‘blogger.’ Because I always understood an occupation to be something that paid your rent and shaped your identity.
Though I will always be a fair bit jealous of those adults who live entirely off their travel blog incomes, the title hasn’t yet made it to my business card. It’s simply something I do, because I can’t imagine not doing it.
With increased demands on a travel blogger’s time, all of us must sometimes sacrifice making memories for making our social media marketing plans. It’s one of the many reasons Chris Appleford (contributing to ProBlogger) suggests the job isn’t always worth it.
So when I’m at my laptop bashing out another article… and my two-year-old son is tugging at my arm begging me to chase him around the room, I’m missing out on that play time. Or I’m not wandering down the Champs Elysees at night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world…
Lately, I’ve realized that while I’m desperate to keep writing, I don’t need to become The World’s Social Media Expert, or SEO Guru. My Instagram shots ooze dorkiness. I get more stubbed toes a week than Pintrest re-posts.
At heart, isn’t every travel blogger a story teller? But when I become too consumed with social media, my stories suffer.
Then, what’s the future of this blog?
Over the next six weeks, I want to re-focus on the words, adventures and ideas that turn a trip into a good tale. When this voluntary writing retreat ends, I can go in two directions:
- I can be a give-it-my-best travel blogging social media maverick, until burnout devours my calendar.
- Or, I can take a step back and simply be a traveler – who happens to write.
You will continue to find honest, engaging stories here, and even more collections of travel books, music and films. This library is only growing bigger, and I hope we’ll all find more inspiration to get out and go – if not on foot, at least in words.
But don’t expect a Twitter update every hour. I don’t mean to disappoint you – I want you to know that I’m out experiencing the world, as you should be, too.
And when I find something worth sharing, you’ll still be the first to know.
Until the next adventure,