“How’s your travel blog?”
Several people have asked me this question lately. How’s that travel blog, the one whose domain name you pay for every year? The one you began three years ago to document your adventures in Spain? With the cool pictures and inspiring stories?
It’s not like I had a shortage of stories.
2022 has been a wild ride. Mostly in a good way.
But my fears got in the way.
The fear of failure hit every time I tried to write.
The fear of being unsuccessful hit every time I chose to relax.
And impostor syndrome hit like a brick. When would people realize I felt like a fraud? Was I a fraud?
In the hustle of trying to prove myself to the world, I started to lose myself.
Despite everything, I’ve still fought for my dreams.
I decided to push through the one thing every writer fears: a blank page that’s waiting for you to mess up.
And over these past few years, I’ve gone on one of the most challenging trips yet: the journey of conquering oneself.
2022 has given me so many experiences that would be great writing material.
But when it comes down to write them, I feel stuck.
Sometimes, I just stare at a blank page, hoping inspiration will come. Nothing comes. I’d be lucky if I even heard crickets.
And then I’ll try to type something, anything, knowing that getting words on the page is half the battle. We can always edit what we write; we just need something to work with.
But then comes what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance, the force that exists to take us away from our dreams and goals. And while he says that Resistance isn’t personal, it still hurts.
This is what Resistance tells me as I write:
“Why do you think anyone is going to care about what you write?”
“So many people have already written about the places you’ve traveled to. There are already so many solo female travelers out there. Why do we need one more?”
“This sentence – no. And this one? Ugh, it sounds so dry, so choppy. What are you thinking? Do you really think you’ll ever be able to write anything inspiring again?”
“You know you suck, right?”
Resistance is so cruel.
So what did I do? I didn’t write. I had excuses – I don’t have time; I’ll do it later; I already wrote half of my book, and should rest. That’s what Resistance wants us to do – make excuses and give up.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Now, my inner dialogue went something like this:
“Are you that lazy that you can’t even write in your journal?”
“Where’s your book? The one you spent all November writing?”
“So you’re one of those people now who stops caring?”
“What about your dream?!”
It was a winless war.
What’s finally gotten me to write again is:
One, people keep asking about my blog. Peer pressure sometimes works.
Two, writing has been part of my identity for so long. I’ve wanted to publish a book and be a famous writer since I was in 3rd grade. If I gave up on that goal now, my 3rd grade self would be heartbroken.
And three, how cool would it be to say that in less than a year from now, I’ll have a Master degree, and a completed book manuscript? My 3rd grade self would be so proud.
So here I am: making my younger self proud, making my current self better, and building my future.
One day, I had finished teaching. I decided to lie on my bed for a few moments to clear my head. And then, I realized I couldn’t get back up.
Well, I could have, technically. But that would have taken up all the energy that I had left. All the energy I had deserted my body. I was exhausted after only a few hours of teaching.
This went on for weeks.
I was too tired to move. I could barely think. My mind felt like calima.
Eventually, I was able to talk to a doctor about what I was experiencing, and am starting to get better. One of the reasons could have been burnout.
I wasn’t surprised. I’d spent years never taking a day off, never stopping to relax, and filling any free time with studying, teaching, or being productive.
The last time I had fully rested was during the lockdown. The extensive downtime gave me energy for the next several years of hustle. But I think I started to run out of juice.
No one is meant to hustle like that forever.
Right now, I’m alright. I’m taking vitamins. I’m giving myself time to rest. I’m working on managing my time better. And I’m practicing a positive mindset, and gratitude. It all starts with gratitude.
Making Your Dreams Come True
Lately, I’ve seen so many posts on Instagram and TikTok that talk about pursuing your dreams. This is amazing, because we need to normalize working hard and following your heart.
I love seeing posts about people who got the courage to start their own business in their studio apartment.
It makes me so happy when someone has found the courage and financial freedom to quit their office job and travel the world as a digital nomad.
I’m in awe of the people who got their PhD, despite their backgrounds, and lack of belief from the people around them.
We need more stories like this in the world.
We also need more stories of the struggle toward following your dreams.
A 30-second video on social media does a great job of sharing: “I was miserable in my 9-5 job, so I took the leap, and now travel the world!” (And you can too if you follow their 5-step formula!)
You can make anything look like magic with upbeat music, motivating words, and pretty pictures. And our dreams can feel like magic. Following your dreams is the best thing you will ever do for yourself.
But, it is also one of the hardest things you will ever do for yourself.
When you follow your dreams, you risk losing everything.
Well, not always. Losing everything for a dream is quite rare, from my observations. It is possible to have a conventional career and follow your heart.
The point is: following your dreams is the adventure of a lifetime. But following your dreams does not always feel like a grand adventure.
Often, the path to your dreams feels monotonous. Sometimes, you feel like you’re hustling for years, but none of the fruits of your labor are coming to fruition.
You may have countless sleepless nights. You may wonder if you’re on the right path. You may question if the seed you planted in your heart will ever see the light of day.
Sometimes, you may wonder if you deserve to have your dreams come true. Who are you to want to be a writer, have your own business, or get a Master’s degree when so many people don’t even have a place to sleep at night?
And you may have moments where you have no idea how things can possibly get better.
But they do.
I’m not saying all this to whine or complain. I’m only stating the truth behind these videos that we see on social media. This is the truth behind those who fight the current to follow their hearts.
And I’m also saying this in case someone is reading this post and can relate to anything I’ve written. You are not alone.
The point is, the path to following your dreams is full of doubt, confusion, boredom, and loneliness. It’s part of the price you pay. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting this. If anything, we should share more of these moments, because one of the best things we can do is support each other, or at the very least say, “I understand.”
And someday, things will work out.
You may have a big moment, your big break, where everything you ever wanted happens to you.
Or, you may have small wins along the way, and then one day, wake up and realize that you’re living the life of your dreams.
And sometimes, you may get what you want, but in a different way than you expected. Sometimes life likes to surprise you like that.
But please, my fellow dreamers, keep following your heart. The world would be a much more beautiful place if we followed our hearts.
And let me say it loud for those in the back: we’re going to win.