When I decided to really make a go of becoming a travel blogger, I was completely oblivious to the realities of doing something on my own. I thought I'd get to see a few places, make a few friends, and write extensively about every detail.
This summer my car broke down in Phoenix, my boss laid me off (and screwed me out of $600), and I racked up debt getting from one end of the country to the other. I also hardly got to write at all because I was so busy.
Look, we all know that pursuing dreams is difficult, but there are a few things that I don’t want to think about or even admit about the process. I’d rather just have this sweet ignorance to it all, but it’s a little impossible because most of the items on this list jump out at me every single day.
I type these with a little hesitancy, but being honest with ourselves never hurt anything. Well, besides our dignity, maybe. Here they are.
1. Not Many People Make It
Success rates are low. Most small businesses fail within the first five years. Most blog authors stop writing before their one-year blogging anniversary. I just passed mine the other day, but it’s been a long journey. Persistence is the remedy, but it’s hard to be persistent in the face of so much adversity.
2. People Won’t Notice You For A Very Long Time
In the early days of my blog, literally nobody would read new posts. I’d be lucky to get one view. In fact, if I got six or seven views, I was really booking! With blogging, you need to keep at it mercilessly, because it’s typical to get little to no attention at all in the early days.
3. You’ll Consider Quitting More Times Than You Think
Although it hasn’t crossed my mind in a long time, quitting was very much on my mind during the early days of my blog. This was before I thought about doing a road trip, or going overseas, or traveling at all! It’s easy to quit in the early days, but if you get past them, you’ll find your resilience will grow exponentially.
4. You Don’t Really Know What You’re Doing
I’ll be honest, I still don’t know what I’m doing in many aspects of my blogging career. I know how to write, and I know how to pitch guest posts, but blogging is a great big world. One year simply isn’t enough time, especially while you’re working, to figure everything out. It’s hard to feel clueless, but it’s also part of the journey.
5. You’ll Spend A Lot Of Time Traveling The Wrong Path
This is an important one. From day one it’s much more efficient to travel the straight path to success rather than the one that zigzags sideways. At first I didn’t have an email signup form on my site. It took me six months to finally understand that it was a necessity, and similar to that, we’re not always going to have the best practices from day one. The good news is that we can employ good practices later on in the journey.
6. Your Critics Will Be Brutal
I write at The Huffington Post, and I can’t begin to describe the nastiness I’ve seen from people I don’t even know. It seems those around us always find a way to conflict. It’s something I never expected to see, but when you put your thoughts on the internet for everyone to see, it makes sense why it would happen.
7. Most People Aren’t Going To Help You
I’ve reached out to so many people for guidance, tips on jobs, or even a few words to feature in my article, and 75 percent of the time I receive no response. That’s not to say that I haven’t received immense help from people who do respond, I’m just saying that most times people are going to ignore you. Don’t give up!
8. Your Family Won’t Understand
When I told my Mom I wanted to work from home and be a freelance writer, she didn’t understand why I couldn’t just go be a manager at Panera Bread or something. I could hear in her voice she didn’t think it was the right decision, but I decided to do it anyway. It’s not fun to hear your parents annoyed with your decision, especially when you feel your decision is the best one for you.
9. You’ll Feel Alone More Than You Think
When I was out in San Francisco this summer I went up to twin peaks so many times to get away from reality for a bit. It was always so cold and windy up there, but when I gazed down at the city below I always felt a tiny bit better. Moving away from friends, family, and general stability to pursue your dreams will lead to a certain level of detachment.
10. You’ll Have To Put Yourself Out There For The World To See
When you’re working hard toward something, your soul is out there for the universe to see. Everyone is watching you open your restaurant, or start your business, or create posts for your blog. In my case, I’ve gotten very honest about my life through my words, and it’s scary to allow everyone to see them sometimes. But that’s the thing, when you pursue your passion, you’re not giving it your all unless you let as many people know about it as possible.
11. You’ll Sub Late Nights At The Bars With Late Nights At Your Desk
Going out with your buddies/ladies should probably be a thing of the past if you’re following your dreams. Most times I just sit at my desk on a friday or saturday night writing. It’s not that glamorous, I know, but it’s nice to see my work occasionally get some traffic the next day.
12. You’ll Barely Scrape By
I racked up debt this summer. It’s not cheap to live in San Francisco at all, and financial struggles followed me for months on end. It’s not something I love to talk about, but it’s something that happened nonetheless.
13. Your Friendships Might Take A Hit
Many times I have to dip out early when seeing my buddies because I have things to do. And that’s not even considering the fact that I didn’t see many of my closest friends for months because of this trip! Your personal relationships will take a hit because of what you’re trying to do.
14. There’s Never A Break From It
Something I’m getting used to now is the fact that I’m constantly writing every single day. I write for money at my day job, and then I write for fun at The Huffington Post and my blog. I feel burned out pretty much every day, and it’s something I don’t want to admit–much less think about! Even when I’m at home trying to relax with my parents, my mind keeps reminding me of all the work I could be doing.
15. You’ll Need To Ask For Help
If you’re like me, you hate asking for favors or help of any kind. I want to do it my way, for one, and secondly I don’t want to bother other people. But that’s the thing, we need the guidance from our peers and mentors to make bigger strides towards our goals. It’s something we all have to admit at some point, that we can’t do it on our own.
16. You Have To Be Gracious To Critics
Just like I said before, you’re going to run into critics. The last thing I want to do is be polite, but that’s what you have to do while you’re out on your own. It’s just you representing yourself.
17. Failure Becomes A Way of Life
Most times when I post a new article to Huffington or my blog, I try to lower expectations beforehand. I know the odds of a post going viral are pretty slim, and in the past I’ve seen so many articles of mine fail to get more than 30 views. It’s just the way it is.
18. Your Entire Future Is Pretty Much On The Line
Starting up a blog wasn’t that much of a financial risk for me, but for others who want to open up a restaurant or start something significant, most times you’ll have to drive yourself into a large amount of debt. This can hold a huge weight over your spirit for years afterwards even if the business does well. There’s a lot at stake here.
19. You’re Going To Get Screwed
A client I used to work with screwed me out of a full weeks pay this summer. In fact, I’m pretty sure a similar situation is happening right now with another person I worked with recently. Out in the real world it’s incredible how much people really can be an asshole to you, for lack of a better term.
20. Pursuing Your Dreams Is Freaking Fun
Time for a positive one. Going out on your own is such a rush. I got to see 23 states this summer on my cross-country trek. I’ve never felt more alive in my entire life, and it’s something I don’t want to share with others because then I’m scared I’ll get more competition! But on a serious note, pursuing something that YOU want is incredibly fulfilling, exhilarating, and downright fun.
There they are. I hope I didn’t put you off to the idea of pursuing your dreams too much. This is the worst of the worst, though–now you know everything.
The truth is that pursuing your dreams is a hard road, but it’s the most fulfilling one, too. You’ll need courage, and a strong spirit, but rest assured that if you weather all of these “truths,” you’ll come out the other side not in pursuit of your dream, but having achieved it.