A few weeks ago, I explained my absence to you — I told you about the bad dream that has consumed my every day for the past 84 days.
Despite the grief, though, life has continued. It has a way of doing that. And not all of it has been bad; in fact, some of it has been very good.
What I’m about to say will probably surprise you. It sure surprised me.
I got a job.
For most people, that sentence would sound normal coming out of their mouth. But for me — someone who’s prided herself on being her own boss and setting her own schedule and traveling whenever and wherever she wants — it sounds insane.
And when you consider the fact the job is in an office, in FLORIDA, it sounds even crazier. I’m still not accustomed to the idea… and I started two months ago.
What am I doing? Writing full-time for The Penny Hoarder.
Why’d I do it? Keep reading.
Feeling the Burn(out)
When I returned from New Zealand and Bali, I was tired. For the first time, I felt burnt out in my biz.
Looking back through my calendar, I realized why: I’d been on the road for more than half of 2015. It wasn’t really the travel, though, that was tiring me; it was the maintenance of my business while I traveled.
Had I been running my business from one place, or traveling without running a business, I knew I wouldn’t have felt like this.
I’d done both separately before — but my business had grown. I was in a stop/start cycle of working all hours of the day, almost getting caught up, and then jumping on a plane and falling behind again. I wasn’t posting on this blog because I was drowning in client work.
I felt like I was treading water — like I’d never get ahead.
And as I’d decided back in early 2015, I wanted to just write. I wanted to be free of the content marketing work. The problem? It paid the majority of my bills. And I couldn’t free up bandwidth for more writing work until I dropped the content marketing gigs. It was a catch-22 many digital entrepreneurs are all too familiar with.
But still, I kept going; I didn’t have the time or mental space to do anything else. My reality check, unsurprisingly, came while on a plane.
I’d been engrossed, working on my laptop, when I looked up and realized I didn’t know where I was going, or where I was coming from.
When you love traveling as much as I do, you want it to feel special. You want to feel completely consumed by the excited anticipation of a new place. You want to absorb everything: the minute details, the chance conversations, the unexpected pastries.
In that moment, it was clear I had lost something — something important. And if I wanted that feeling (and my sanity) back, I needed to change things up.
So that’s where I was when Alexis Grant, the badass I owe my entire online career to, called me up. She’d sold her content marketing firm and was going in-house as the executive editor of The Penny Hoarder. And she wanted me to come with her.
My heart immediately leapt. This was it: the opportunity I didn’t know I needed. I trust Lexi fully, and if she vouches for something, I believe her. I’d been freelancing for The Penny Hoarder for a year, and I knew I liked its founder and its content.
Then, she dropped the bomb: they wanted to build the team in person. In Florida.
My first reaction? Fuck no. (Thankfully, I said that in my brain and not with my mouth.) But I told her I appreciated the offer, which I did — and that I’d think about it, which I did.
I thought about it. And talked about it. (Bob was the first person I called; he was totally supportive.) And thought about it some more. The more I did, the more I found myself leaning towards it. No one was more surprised than myself.
I worked so hard to build my business and create this lifestyle — it was tough to imagine giving it up.
Was this travel blogger, this champion of seasonal jobs and location independence, this digital nomad really considering taking a 9-to-5?
Yes. It seemed like such a good fit. It was a flexible, fun, and innovative environment. It meant I could leave marketing, write full-time, and work with people I respected. I could — maybe, possibly, once I figured out what they were — have hobbies! I could enjoy myself when I did travel, rather than constantly worry about work.
Of course, I was terrified of losing my freedom. I was terrified of not being able to travel as much as I wanted to. And if I’m being honest, I was terrified of what people would think.
But I’m all about new experiences, whether they’re new cultures, new heights, or new friends. I’ve always said yes more than no, and I figured this was one thing I hadn’t tried.
So I did what I would tell any of you to do: I took the leap. Right after Labor Day, I moved to Saint Petersburg, Florida.
What This Means for the Blog
Am I done traveling? Am I no longer a travel blogger? Am I going to become a “consultant,” dress in suits every day, and never see the sunlight again? No, no, and NO.
1. I will still travel. I am a traveler, and always will be. I have a decent amount of paid vacation (paid?! what is that?) and can work remotely one day a week. I’m already eyeing a couple international destinations and have traveled four of the eight weekends I’ve been here… which I’m guessing is a good sign my wanderlust ain’t dead yet.
2. I’m still a travel blogger. I am a blogger who travels, so even though I’m more “settled” than I have been for the past eight years, I still consider myself a member of the club. Not only that, but even if I never left my street again, I’d have enough stories to blog for several years to come.
3. A. I don’t know what consultants do. B. I think suits are awkward. And C. Not even Edward Cullen could tempt me into that existence.
As I said when I changed my domain name, this blog is me, and it will morph as I do. I will still talk mostly about traveling — and will always be here for you as a resource — but I’ll also write about grief, and life, and of course, goats.
I strongly believe this radical change will provide new insights — insights that allow me to serve you better. How, after all, can I espouse life from the road when I really haven’t known the opposite? How can I champion one flavor when I’ve never tasted the others?
The cookie has crumbled in some very unexpected ways the past few months, and truthfully, I have no idea where this path will lead. But, being a traveler at heart, I am looking forward to the journey. I hope you are, too.
Are you surprised? Anything you’d like to see me cover (or not cover!) on this blog in the future?
OMG, you have a beer fridge at work?! Super jealous! Glad to see you back writing and can’t wait to read more about your adventures in Florida. At least you don’t have to shovel snow!
Haha, SO true! I’m slowly getting back into writing on the blog; hope to do more soon. It’s also on my list to email you! One thing at a time…
I think it’s great taking this job if it feels right to you. Life isn’t about boxing yourself into a corner so I wouldn’t worry about how it affects your image as a travel blogger. Most people have day jobs and only squeeze in a few vacations here and there so if anything you’ll just be approaching it from that new, more relatable angle. I’m so sorry for your loss and what you’ve been going through but it sounds like this is a turn for a brighter direction of life. Best of luck!
Thank you, Kaleena! Your words and support mean a lot — especially since they’re coming from a fellow travel blogger. xoxo
Kudos on your new job Susan. And for being open to new experiences, even if they don’t fit your original ideas. I hope this is a delightful new chapter for you.
Thank you so much, Brad. I really appreciate your support.
I think your choice was entirely brilliant! Good for you for doing what feels right, even if that means making a really big change.
I’m actually based in Lakeland about every other month, not far from where you are. Hit me up if you want to swap Florida travel ideas.
And take care!
Thank you, Becca! Please get in touch next time you’re down here — we can grab coffee!
You go girl !!!!!
Ah, all the cliches about doors, windows, knocking, et al.
Burn out is a bitch and the ONLY solution involves finding a new itch. I know — LatAm has burned me out and I’ve been checking out where to next…
Glad to know you are on the mend and, selfishly, glad to know you will still be blogging!
Aw thanks! Where do you think you’ll head next?
I guess curve balls are part of the game-
and you are inspiring in the way that you are working with so many new experiences-
Glad you’re still writing
Thank you, Kristina! I’m glad you’ll stick with me during this transition.
i have read your story and think its a good move not to travel toooo much in the first 12 to 15 months after a major event. Going through something myself and grieving in unfamiliar locations is not easy. Not that grief ever ends but acute grief is what i mean. please write to me.
Thanks for your note, Danny. I don’t know; I think being in an unfamiliar place has been helpful for me. Bob and I didn’t have any memories here, and I think that makes it a little easier. I’m sending hugs your way.
FUN news! Congratulations on this new adventure.
Thanks so much, Erica!
Susan, I haven’t met you in person… (of which I REALLY dream of doing so someday), but I feel like I know you already. I couldn’t resist the temptation of leaping into your mailing list after I saw your Guest post for Bamidele Onibalusi’s WritersinCharge.com months ago.
You are TOTALLY awesome. Have a great time at TPH… I love Alexis Grant too. I follow her work.
LOTS from love from my West African Heart… (hope you visit here someday) 🙂
Hi Nicholas, thank you so much for your love and words — I really appreciate it!
Congrats Susan on the new job and new adventure in life. I’m sure that you’ll make it just as interesting as the last one. Cheers!
Aw thanks, Lisa!
Actually I think it might even be healthy for you especially after your loss. I think working at a company is healthy if you enjoy the work, the boss and co-workers are nice and professional, and the benefits are decent. Life is all about being open to new opportunities so embrace where it takes you.
You might decide to go back to freelancing, you never know unless you try, right?
You’re in St. Petersburg??? I’m a student at UTampa and I’ve been following your blog for a while, that’s crazy that you moved here! I’m an aspiring travel blogger, so you’re kind of an inspiration to me.
I’m here, Mel! Let me know if you ever want to grab lunch here in St. Pete 🙂
That would be amazing! Let me know when you have the time! Hope you’re enjoying St. Pete so far.
HOLY MOLY… first of all congrats on the job! Secondly, that is so crazy you moved to St Pete. I’ve been a reader of your blog for quite some time now (since you had the dark background and glowing text all over your page 🙂 and I too live in downtown St Pete. Small world! Maybe we’ll cross paths out and about some time lol. Anyways, good luck with everything.
I actually find this very inspiring. As someone who is looking to, in the not too distant future, pack up her bags and become a traveller instead of living in a corporate world, this is an important reminder that life changes as we live it, and one lifestyle is not necessarily the answer to life forever. Hope you’re having fun in Florida and I applaud you for doing something different!
Susan, i am so happy for you!