Yes, you've read that right: I quit my job. Those of you who are subscribed to my newsletter already found out about this on Friday, but I wanted to share this news with all of you.
I handed in my noticed last Thursday and February 4 will be my final day in the office.
“But why? You're the one who told us we don't need to sell everything to travel the world?!”
That's right – I did. And this isn't a contradiction of that. It's not just about wanting to travel more. That's a factor, yes – but it's way more complicated than that. This is less about travel and more about the career I want for myself.
From security to passion
When I started blogging over two years ago, I knew there were a lot of opportunities out there. I knew there were people selling their photography, creating videos, doing freelance writing and more to make a living. These were people who'd found a job they loved and had striven to make it work.
As much as I admired them, though, I didn't think I could or even wanted to be one of them. Like most of the people I know, I longed for security, a steady income, and I was saving to buy a house – or better, to buy the life I thought I had to live.
You see, up until now I've always been the “good student”. I've known all through high school that I was going to do something with language and writing. After graduation, I signed up for a bachelor and master in Literature & Linguistics, which I both acquired without ever failing an exam. These studies “fitted” me. So much that I spent way too many nights behind my books instead of taking more dance classes, going out and – yes – traveling the world. These studies were safe ground, a place where I was sure I could succeed. The rest of the world wasn't.
After my masters I studied something else for another year to postpone real life and only two months after getting that last degree I started working my first job.
I was on a roll… or not?
I had a job in journalism, but after a year I realized I needed to write for myself and so I launched Wonderful Wanderings, where I could combine my passion for writing with my love of travel. And travel I did, to Portugal, the US, France and other places, and it changed me. I went from being the girl that got nervous when she had to call someone to make an appointment to the girl who talked to strangers on planes, at airports and in foreign lands. Travel made me more confident, but it also made me question myself more.
I'd always thought I'd be leading the classical life, I'd always thought I knew where I was heading. Suddenly I didn't know anymore. The world became so big and yet so small and I kept meeting people whose lives were so different from the one I thought I was supposed to live.
At the same time, I felt good being part of the travel blogging world and almost all of my free time – when I wasn't traveling – went into blogging.
It wasn't like when I was studying, though. I loved this. It gave me energy. But after a while it also wore me out. Working from 8 am until 4.30 pm and then coming home to start again from 5 pm until … late, it exhausted me. I think it was after my trip to Greece in October that I realized I couldn't keep this up – physically nor mentally – and I had to make a choice. A choice between security and doing what I loved.
I started thinking about an escape plan. I wanted to participate in my school's annual dance show the first weekend of May, so I reasoned that it would be best to keep things normal until then because I'd have to be in Belgium for rehearsals anyway. Plus, it would give me some time to save extra money and hopefully get some more freelance writing gigs during winter.
In November, I went on a press trip there together with 40 other travel bloggers, followed by a conference day. It was the most inspiring trip of my life. I still can't believe how helpful, kind, fun and supportive all the people I met were. I cried when I had to catch my flight back home and it was then that I knew: I wouldn't make it until May.
I came home, checked my finances, calculated what I'd need to stay alive for a year and made the call: I'd quit.
… but I still need a break as well
You might think that I'll have plenty more time starting February 5, and I will, but I also want to start this journey well prepared. That's why I've decided not to post anything the last two weeks of December. I will still be working on the blog – a lot, actually – I just won't be posting anything.
What this means for you
By taking you with me on this journey, I want to inspire you to search your own path, no matter where that takes you. I'll show you my ups and downs, my successes and failures while I try to find out where I belong and what I should be doing so that, hopefully, you'll get something out of it for yourself.
I'm taking a risk here. A step I've been dreaming about but I never thought I'd dare to take. I don't know whether I'll find enough freelance work. I don't know if my gut will lead me to where I need to be. All I know is that I have to give it a shot. Even if it's a shot in the dark.
In regards to travel, you'll get to know my home country Belgium a lot better, as that is after all where my roots lie, and you'll see what it's like to explore the world coming from such a small country.
Together we'll have a crazy year, full of adventures but also contemplation.
Lastly, I want to tell you once again that I haven't changed my feelings about combining work with travel. I still think it's possible to see the world when you have a full-time job if you decide that traveling is important enough to you. I'm leaving my job because I feel like my career path goes elsewhere and because I want to find out where that is. I truly hope you'll join me in my quest.