Some years pass by with little more than a backward glance while others are hallmarks of one’s life. I’m not sure 2012 will prove to be a paradigm shift in my own personal history, but it definitely warrants more than just a backward glance. So what was it about this year that made it so remarkable?
The Wrong Reasons
I found myself in the 12th year of an occupation that I didn’t like and in which I never intended to enter. I worked for a nonprofit association as their lobbyist, just as I had done since graduating with my Masters Degree in International Relations in 1999. That’s right, international relations and not domestic. After graduating school though I moved to Washington, D.C. without a job and so I had to take the first one offered, which happened to be in the realm of domestic politics. There’s a reason why though I have two degrees in international relations and not domestic affairs, I hate domestic politics. I’ve always had an incredible wanderlust and appreciation of foreign cultures, which is what drove me to earn those degrees of mine in the first place. I didn’t pay attention to my gut though and instead took the first job I could due to economic necessities. Even worse, I was good at my job and discovered a certain level of comfort in the occupation and went on to advance and work for several organizations. It wasn’t what I was interested in and I didn’t particularly like it, but it worked; until it didn’t.
Part of the reason why I started LandLopers was because I was so incredibly unhappy in my professional life. I simply needed an outlet that would allow me, in some small way, to pursue what interests me the most: travel and foreign affairs. Before I knew it though my hobby became much more than that and I was soon spending as much time if not more working on my web site than I was at the job that actually provided a salary and benefits.
Then the unimaginable happened, something I never before considered. My job was eliminated and me along with it. Suddenly and without warning it happened, but ultimately it was what I needed the most.
The Right Reasons
I had long pondered pursuing travel blogging as a career but was terrified. Terrified of the uncertain financial benefits and loss of things I had taken for granted, like health care. But there I was, confronted with an opportunity that I never I couldn’t pass up; the chance to pursue my true love as my career.
None of this would be possible without the endless support of my partner who hasn’t only been supportive, but has been solely responsible for my ability to pursue my dreams. It hasn’t been easy to say the least. Losing an income, one that wasn’t insubstantial, has been a shock in many different ways. But we’ve managed to make it work and things are finally starting to turn around.
That’s also due in large part to my new job working with TBEX, the Travel Blog Exchange. So in addition to working on my own site, I get to work with the oldest and largest travel blog conference and community in the world. I love travel and the industry and so far it’s been an absolute joy talking with people about the state of both the travel industry and the travel blogosphere on a daily basis. Just a few years ago I would never have dreamed this possible, yet here I am.
Life isn’t all puppies and unicorns though; I don’t think it is for anyone. Well except for Oprah, I mean come on that’s a pretty amazing life. But, if you’re not Oprah you too have to deal with these ups and downs, some much more dramatic than others. Without a doubt 2012 was one of the most dramatic I’ve ever had for these and still other reasons. But I tried to remain as optimistic as possible throughout everything, some may call that naïveté but I figured I had nothing to lose. It would’ve been far too easy to spiral into the depths of depression, and I certainly had my moments but I ultimately learned that it’s so much easier to be positive than negative and so I decided to give it a whirl.
I’m laughing as I write this because if you had asked me the same question a year ago there’s no way I could’ve predicted any of this. So, it’s with a certain amount of intellectual honesty that I refuse to guess the future. But I am hopeful. Hopeful that my new career will continue to develop and that ultimately a balance in my life will be regained. But even failing that, I am determined to have fun along the way.