It all started on the morning of 28th December 2013 at my parents’ house. Flicking on the kettle to boil, I then pulled out a tea bag and dropped it in my mug and simply waited for the kettle to stop its bubbling sound as I stared out of the rain-splattered kitchen window into the gloomy sky, wind whipped trees punctuating the skyline. Knowing that 2013 was about to end in a few days, I simply uttered aloud, ‘it’s been a funny old year…’
Then I started crying.
In truth, I hadn’t been happy for a long while.
In that moment of raw emotion, frustrations came to the forefront. I was angry. I was resigned. I was horrendously upset. I was worried. I was stressed. And most of all, I was lonely.
Dismayed that I became this way, I simply pulled myself together, walled up my emotions and carried on taking away my cup of tea to sit down at my desk to work on a project.
I found myself unable to concentrate as my thoughts wandered off into the midst of seething resentment, taunted by the recent run of bad luck I endured, my demons slowly mocking me trying to build me into a pit of wallowing self-pity. I didn’t do anything to confront these laughing demons, I just avoided them whether by watching tv, researching for my projects, reading books, playing quiz games or anything at all.
The last two months, I had a sudden case of writer’s block that my work was really affected by the maelstrom that swirled in my mind. I denied I wasn’t happy.
Getting fed up with these daily conflict of emotions, I needed to confront my demons. But how? I didn’t feel I could share them to anybody. My friends expect me to be the goofy and cheeky lad. They don’t want to hear a moaning and negative outlook from me, which I felt they did to the few I did open up to. My dad wouldn’t understand, my sensitive mother would just be upset that I felt this way which would make me feel ashamed of myself to put her into that position. The rest of my family…well…I hardly see them except a cousin I go for drinks with, and again, I don’t really know them enough on an emotional level to share with them. This is also highlighted by the fact we’ve had some bad news within the family and I don’t want to add to that.
So battling with my depressive emotions with myself became tougher and tougher until that day when I burst into tears.
Later on that day, slumped in front of my laptop to try to work some even more, I picked up a pen to twiddle with it, I stared at this simple biro and I instinctively knew that before I started anything else, I needed to confess my feelings onto paper. They say the word is mightier than the sword and perhaps these words will slay the dragon just about ready to erupt from within myself. I simply needed to share with you, whether a friend, family member, reader or stranger just one time why I feel what I feel. I don’t want some long drawn out process to dissect my feelings on a couch over many years, I just want to share with you like in form of a primal scream and immediately I should feel better. It was quite apt, I thought to myself then when I opened up a new page to write for this blog. RexyEdventures simply started so I could share at once with all of you what I was doing rather than having to individually explain to everybody what I was up to. It was the first piece of the puzzle that clicked in my mind when I thought that and I knew I was doing the right thing.
So readers, you know I did? Guess this, I wrote a 10,000 word document detailing everything I wanted to say. It was brutal, soul-searching and all my feelings were utmost laid bare on the harsh glare of the computer screen. It was the most personal thing I’ve ever done. So how did I feel afterwards? I felt spent, stripped back and raw from it all. But then a new thought entered into my head as I read through it all again…
‘Why don’t I turn the negative into the positive?’
It would a fantastic way to destroy those demons and turn them into a fresh new start ready as 2014 turned around. They could be my new year resolutions!
So guys, I’m about to simplify these feelings into issues and then attach the most proper solution I would do to solve that issue. I haven’t included my personal issues within my family as it’s not appropriate to drag them into this. The other thing why I want to do this is to share with you how I was feeling throughout 2013. So I’ve attached some excerpts from that humongous document to really how I felt over the year. So here goes guys…
I simply don’t know how by December I got it so wrong compared to the first days of 2013. The world was truly my oyster and I felt like I achieved my dreams and about to achieve some more. Heck, I even had a bloody fantastic 2012 when I travelled around the world for seven months. My travel journalism was just burgeoning urged on by the success of my website. I was meeting all sorts of new people who shared a love of travel, money was plentiful, I had just booked a three-week travel trip in South America ending at the Rio Carnival, my hearing was constantly improving thanks to my Cochlear Implant and I couldn’t have loved my life even more. Looking back, I still had demons but they were so squashed within me that they were utterly unnoticeable. And that’s how I liked it.
Twelve months later, they erupted…
ISSUE: RexyEdventures.com is declining with minimal reader interaction and hardly any contacts from travel boards, companies and tours. I was feeling like a failure and my efforts had come to nothing.
‘I’ll be honest. I view my website as my child. I’m fiercely protective of it. But I fear it’s become a surly teenager ready to lash out and be a disappointment to me. The time and effort I’ve poured tears, sweat and my bare soul into creating this website ready to be unleashed on the big bad world of the travelosphere seems to have reaped very little reward.’
February – ‘The Canadian Tourism Board needed me to get in contact with them immediately after the event to discuss setting up a press trip (my first one!). Excited and full of hope for the year ahead, that was suddenly stopped in their tracks upon the news I received when I got home…’
March – ‘The Canada plans had to be scrapped. There was absolutely no way I could go away leaving my parents on their own seeing as Mum was still iffy. Dad needed looking after and I needed to stay home…’
August – ‘…a new interactive look should be made…without requesting any help on this. This took a long month when my website was put into maintenance mode, a setting I detested as no-one would be able to view the content and I would be losing valuable advertising contacts who may stumble across RexyEdventures. It was an absolute feat for me and I was jubilant when I did the Rexy Relaunch of the site. But since then, it hasn’t reaped me the rewards.’
September – ‘I very rarely seem to get any interaction at all. Comments on my website is pretty thin on the ground and my attempts to interact on the social media pages seems to gain no response. I never seem to receive invites. I grew jealous and wondered what was wrong with my website. Am I good enough? I don’t know.’
October – ‘…the irritation of not having moved from a Google page ranking from 2 to 3 since 2012 grew and grew. Many bloggers insist that this isn’t measured of how good your website is…well trying telling that to travel companies, advertisers and even tourism boards who have flat-out said ‘I’m sorry, we cannot work with you because your page ranking is too low for us to consider you.’ So then, I would see many other travel bloggers achieve success after success, press trip after press trip, partnership after partnership and many more because I can see they have a higher ranking than I did. I know my website is better than this page rank. I just do. ‘
November – ‘I remained on standby. Unable to motivate myself to do a written post.’
December – ‘This website is key to my success in life, I believed…now…I’m not so sure…I grew quiet on the blogging front. I just couldn’t be bothered. It became a chore to me. My passion for travel blogging was extinguished.’
- I’m going to ask for help from my fellow travel bloggers.
- I need to swallow my pride and listen to any constructive criticism and find myself on the forefront of new ideas and technology.
- Also, I will proactively communicate with travel boards and companies rather than having to wait for them to say they are looking for people.
- I will ask my readers personally to find out how could I make my interaction with them better.
- Finally, I will find a niche for my travel website. Budget Travel is now far too generic.
ISSUE: After more than 300 job application rejections throughout 2013, I felt like a failure and ashamed to be 28 and still relying on my parents for a roof over my head.
January – ‘I was full of hope for the future, bags of enthusiasm ready to get started. I was fresh, eager and ready to show the bosses what I could do.’
February – ‘I was still concerned that I hadn’t heard anything back from my job applications.’
March – ‘I began to feel a little irate that nothing has come out from my huge abundance of enthusiasm and determination to get into the travel industry. The whole job hunting was becoming a huge mission for me after two months of applying and soon enough rejections came through en masse. That was a pretty sobering experience.”
April – ‘I began to start applying for Environmental Sciences jobs (which I’m qualified in from University) just to be on the safe side and see what may just be out there.’
May – ‘I was over-experienced, under-experienced, under-qualified, over-qualified etc. Everything was conflicting. I didn’t know what I needed to do to improve my CV.’
June – ‘Taking on lots of freelance travel writing projects, social media work, SEO work and even PR work, most of which were unpaid, I really went through them with as much gusto and enthusiasm I had knowing that all this will at least give me several job interviews.’
July – ‘The Environmental Science experience took a back seat as the environmental sector showed no signs of improving and even if I were to boost my experience on courses or placements, I would have to pay for them with no money I’ve got. Nada….The job rejections still kept on coming and I was pretty much panicking.’
September – ‘With every passing job rejection purely without any chance of an interview, my self-esteem was chipped away. My attempts to get a jobs in London were rebuffed again. Even environmental science jobs.’
November – ‘I returned home destroyed and exhausted to the detriment of my health. I was utterly spent from the year and I needed a re-charge. My motivation was down, my self-esteem minuscule and the spark had gone out of me. No more. I wanted a break from trying to forge a career. I would sleep. I couldn’t even care enough to care that I failed.’
December – ‘I faced a prospect of another year of uncertain future when I wouldn’t know what I’ll be doing for the next week. It was demoralising. I didn’t have a regular source of income that I could do things I wanted to do… Now, I have a good freelance job with a European Hotel Company that will give me the money I needed to stay afloat but that ends in end of January 2014…where next is what I worry…’
- I will proactively contact all the companies who I think will be great to work with and give them the hard sell. No more job applying and waiting around to see if I have been successful.
ISSUE: My Bank Balance is depleted and I am at the mercy of advertising from my website to live off my means. I felt a failure.
January – Monetizing my website was definitely my best idea in 2012 as I gained a lot of money through it and even funded my South American Travels in January and February 2013.
June – ‘April to June, I hardly got anything. My bank balance whizzed down and this was before I moved to London, an expensive place.’
November – ‘November was probably the worst month for money. I wanted my money of expenses reclaim from a travel company I was working for that hadn’t been paid to me for weeks and I had outstanding rent to pay for. I literally didn’t have anything else to pay the rent with and I would be pleading for the money to be paid immediately.’
December – ‘Thankfully, I still had a trickle of money coming from the website that enabled me to keep my head just afloat without having to turn to my parents for money.’
- Worst come to worst, I would ask my parents for a loan rather than receiving a payout. Meanwhile, I’m going to find a temporary job while I look for another one. Also, I have plenty of stuff that I can sell. Car boot anyone?
ISSUE: Freelance work really didn’t yield any results for me in 2013 after all that effort and work. I felt used and a failure.
January – ‘I relished these pressures tremendously meeting deadline after deadline.’
April – I decided to go freelance full-time. It was time to show off my travel writing credentials. I shouldn’t be worried about that…should I?’
June – ‘…freelance work to see if there was anything going. Nada.
September – ‘I would go to bed exhausted late at night after working all day followed by either a networking event that would take all night or jumping on the commute to my friend’s house (who very kindly put me up) that would take an hour and a half from the City of London to be then followed by working on my website or other projects. It was indeed a lot of hard work but I hoped I would get the benefits from it.’
December – ‘I just gave up. It was soul destroying.’
- Seeing as I’ve given myself a break from it, I will ask for help from Frankie Bird, (As The Bird Flies) the one who inspired me to go into freelancing. Hopefully, she can give me a few pointers 🙂
ISSUE: I felt extremely lonely without any support
‘Mum had her sisters to confide into, Dad had his friends down at the pub but I didn’t really have anyone. I would try to confide to my friends scattered across the UK but talking about it online didn’t have the right effect. So I would kept it all hidden within myself while maintaining a happy deposition.’
‘So why didn’t I tell them what I was feeling inside? Well, Mum is a sensitive soul and she would feel really bad if I felt upset that would make me feel ashamed to put her in that position. Dad, well, he would just try to motivate me about the successes of other people that would make me feel even more ashamed that I haven’t met his expectations.’
‘I no longer had close friends left in Hull so I couldn’t ask anyone to call round to have that much-needed company. All I had were my online social networks and I became even more lonely to see how everyone else was getting on with their lives.’
‘I’ve met a range of fantastic people throughout the whole year and it was great to meet them in person. But the retention of that friendship falls off. I’d try to stay in contact but the other would just wouldn’t put in the effort, which would pain me.’
‘By the middle of the year, I would stop trying. I was fed up of making the same small talk at the beginning when you meet people and I would have that thought in my mind that, ‘what’s the point, you aren’t gonna be friends with me.’
‘I’m not close friends with anyone from school, college, university or places of work.’
‘I did meet a great group of travel bloggers called the TravelLads that I used to hang around with while I was in London. Each and every one of them are brilliant. But I would always have the sense I felt a little outside of the group.’
‘I seriously began to get worried about my future. I began to feel like a failure, nay a fraud. My friends were ahead of me on the fast lane on the way to achieving their dreams and I was embarrassed to tell them that once again, my life had stalled. I simply put on a happy face simply marvelling that I was living my dream.’
‘Deafness become the source of my primary conversation. I’m happy to raise awareness of deafness but it’s not all I can talk about as some people may think. After saying hello to a new person, they immediately ask questions about my deafness, which I’m happy to talk about, but as that subject finishes, they don’t talk to me further and I don’t see them for dust again. It’s depressing.’
‘Some travel blogger friends who I hadn’t seen for months commentated how quiet, calm and deflated I looked.’
‘Even though I wanted to try pushing myself again, I would have the dancing devil on my shoulder whispering into my ear, ‘You’ve tried plenty of times before, what’s to say this one will be any different?’ He was right. By the close of the month, I shut down the barriers and bricked up the walls.’
‘Of all the things I hoped to achieve at the beginning of the year, they were flopping around me like fish at my feet trying for that last gasp of air and I was too ashamed to admit it.’
- In truth, it takes two to lose contact. I am going to break down the walls and celebrate to each person why they’ve become a valued friend to me and hopefully we can re-establish our friendship. If I need to talk to someone, I will confide in someone rather than keeping it to myself.
On that morning of 28th December 2013, that burst of raw and pure emotion actually did me a huge favour. Months and months of keeping everything to myself soon unravelled out of me and that brick wall came flying down as I accepted the status of my life. Some more bouts of tears later, I came to look at myself properly for the first time in the mirror for months and saw how I became.
‘This isn’t you to keep it all wrapped up,’ I said to myself, ‘You need to share, accept and move on.’ I was pretty harsh on myself I have to say but I needed telling. ‘People don’t care, they have their own lives to worry about. It’s has been a tough year. You’re tried your best. Yes it failed but at least you tried. Don’t worry about it and start afresh.’
Yes, a blank slate was all I needed. I didn’t want to spend 2014 worrying about what I hadn’t got but rather enjoy what I do have got. Life is short, and there’s absolutely no way you should worry about everything in your life.’ So I decided to start afresh, but I needed to purge the demons in my mind in one swift swoop. So armed with my keyboard, I began to write down everything I wanted to say and confide. A primal scream. And you know what? It worked. Now, I could close the book on 2013, take a deep breath and step into 2014 unknown, rested and excited for the new year ahead of me.
As the New Year struck Midnight signalling the rise of 2014, I clinked champagne glasses with the other people in the room and looked back to see that actually I did have really great moments in 2013. But now it was time to look to the future with no expectations, no pressure and certainly no loneliness. In fact, I was happier than I’d been for a long while but I still had a way to go. But I knew from this point on, it was time to start again with a blank slate and the only way is up. As the fireworks exploded above London on the television screen, I sat back drinking my champagne, and smiled as once again I looked back to say,
‘2013…It’s Been A Funny Old Year…’