Back on the Horse
For 3 years I wrote 2+ blog posts per week then in May I totally stopped. Here’s why:
the back story
In 2013 we packed up all of our possessions into a dusty shipping container and moved across the Atlantic. Shortly thereafter I started a silly little blog to keep friends and family in the loop on my new life as an expat in Germany. I loved sharing my pictures and stories from our travels around Europe and, quite frankly, we were so darn lucky to have it all at our doorstep that I still have a hard time believing it. Paris for the weekend? Sure. A long weekend in Lisbon? Of course. Oktoberfest, kayaking in Ireland, tapas-crawling in Barcelona. We ate, drank, and low-cost carrier-d our way across Europe for two years straight. I had a lot of excitement to share and, as it turned, others enjoyed hearing about my escapades too.
Not every opportunity is the right opportunity. . Today I’m closing the books on my once-big dream of running a travel consultancy. While I loved helping people plan dreamy trips to my favorite places, I quickly realized that my heart just wasn’t in it. And, just because I enjoyed doing something as a hobby, doesn’t mean it’d be a fulfilling job, muchless career. With a big dose of humility, I’m so excited to return to the tech space that I left behind. Lesson learned, age: 30. . Pictured: ? 5am sunrise over the volcanic mountains of Bali
spring & the travel consultancy
In late 2015 life changed drastically when we moved back to the US. Sure, there are the pangs of repatriation (wahh, I miss Italian table wine), but also a sheer, rather abrupt, change in lifestyle. Stateside we travel at a minutia the pace we did before, and an even more glaring problem for a travel blogger- I’m actually okay with it. Our new home in Charlottesville is as close to Pleasantville as it gets, so while floating down the James River in camo speckled inner-tubes isn’t quite as riveting as hiking the Amalfi Coast, that is life these days and I love it. Despite this, in January I decided to leave my job in the IT sector to focus on turning my blog into an actual European travel business. As I’m sure many bloggers do, I receive 1-2 emails per day with questions about traveling abroad – there had to be a business there, right? I went on an outright mission to figure it out and started helping travelers plan their own journeys (A*) to Europe under the vague title of being a ‘travel consultancy’. Initially it seemed fun and easy… and people really wanted my input. Supply + demand = success, right?
I was so adamant on making it work because “I just should” that I overlooked one a big, glaring problem: me.
I realized that despite my own love for travel, making it a full-time profession is not what I was meant to do. I missed the challenges and fulfillment I found in my old life in tech and, no surprise, travel isn’t nearly as fun to talk about if you aren’t the one going on the trip. Despite having a long list of clients, in May I decided to shut the books. In full disclosure, it was definitely one of the harder points in my adult life – for a long time, maybe even still, I felt that I failed at something despite pouring every ounce of my time and energy into it. I find solace in acknowledging that not every opportunity is the right opportunity and look forward to the day that I can look back on the experience and recognize the personal growth that my lack of success provided.
a new chapter
With the goal of re-directing my career back towards a path that I was excited about, this summer I became a student again for the first time since 2008 and took an immersive web dev/UX design course. What’s UX design? Think of it as the psychology behind web and app development – building digital products based on helping the user accomplish their goals. For 6+ years I worked as a software instructor and led large-scale deployments around the world (hence my assignment in Deutschland) so while UX design is a new space for me professionally, it feels a bit like an old hat. I witnessed user challenges for years and now I can actually do something about it – proactively. It’s awesome. This summer I went on a blogging hiatus as I permitted myself to be totally consumed with my studies.
With the fall setting in, my day-to-day schedule is chock full of UX projects (*B) that feel like the farthest thing from work. Now that blogging isn’t in the hot seat to deliver, it’s amazing how much easier the stories flow. In fact, when I least expected it, Delta accepted my pitch to promote their in-flight services and we just ran off to Maine for the weekend. Funny how when you push for something with all your might it doesn’t budge – only to realize that a subtle lean was all that was needed.
Safe to say, it’s been a growing year on my end with lots of reflection and self-evaluation. I get the feeling that others in their late 20s/early 30s are wearing a similar pair of shoes. If that’s you, then I’m right there with ya! I can’t always promise the charm of Swiss alpine villages on this blog, but I am happy to continue sharing my story and, most importantly, am grateful to have you along for the ride.
*A | Here is an example of a custom itinerary that I created for clients heading to Lisbon. If it’s not obvious, I got in the trenches of Adobe InDesign and enjoyed making the custom itineraries attractive almost as much as I liked writing the content.
*B | In the UX design world a snazzy personal portfolio site is just as important as a resume. Here is my personal site that I made from scratch: meetmargo.co. 🙂
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