For the past few years I have been a’ preaching the dogma of remaining true to yourself. To be flexible, kind, and yet firm in your believe of self. To use opinions from others for guidance and information, and not as inducement of guilt. And here I stand, about to be tested yet again.
OK Dear Reader, I must apologize right here at the start. There are things for which I’m sworn to secrecy. Under penalty of law and wedgie, I simply cannot discuss certain details. Please understand as it’s a matter of National Security … or at least personal preservation.
Two weeks ago I had our upcoming ‘Around The World’ adventure planned to the proverbial T. Christmas in California, a quick week in Hawaii, and then West! to parts unknown. Maybe Australia? Maybe elsewhere. And then like all things … I got a phone call. (This one was actually a text message, but saying I GOT A PHONE CALL sounds so much more melodramatic, don’t you think?). Anyway, this ‘communication’ changed everything. And also nothing. So let’s start with the potential guilt and resulting rueful shaking of the head as our first order of business.
Someone close to me needs me. Not a forever kind of need, but “wow, that’s big, of course I’ll help” kind of thing. And since it’s right in the middle of my planning, I’m experiencing flexibility issues. Which is not the subject of this post, by the way. I’m actually kinda (and strangely) pleased that I’m being challenged so early to see how well I adapt to changing circumstances. No, the issue is that the situation I’m going to be assisting with doesn’t have its own timetable. Think something like recovery from a Hurricane. You run and help, but when can you call it a successful mission and move on? Without everyone pointing at you and saying you should do more. Without questioning your decisions about time and priorities. Without their generous helpings of guilt?
Much of what I share on YouTube and here on these pages revolves around the balancing act of helping those in your life, and also helping yourself. I don’t know if it’s an American thing or not, but everywhere I look I see people following the “this is the only way to adult” handbook, and any deviation from its pages will cause each and every follower to shame you. “How dare you want something different for yourself!”, they shriek. And the coming months are going to see me in just such a situation.
So … do I stay strong and absolute? Do I bend to the “common will” of the masses? Something in between? I’ve already been accused of thinking only of myself … and the assistance I’m going to be providing hasn’t even started yet! (And sadly, that shot across the bow actually hurt, considering the source).
I am very much willing, able, and looking forward to answering that text message with everything I can give. But I’m also going to put a timeline on it. As in, it won’t be open-ended. There will come a moment long before many people think is appropriate where I will continue on the path I started just a few weeks ago. A path where I put my own needs as a priority. (Something which I haven’t always done very well, even though there are many that would disagree).
OK, I know this has been cryptic. I’m trying to make a point without making the point about something else. There will come in all of our lives those moments where we have to shuffle our prioritized lists and move others to the top. And that’s a great thing, to be able to help others and to share in their lives. But equally as important are those moments where you slide your own name to the top of that list. And you do so without guilt.
So I suppose we’ll see how that plays out. Can I take my own advice and all that. But another aspect of this challenge is facing my first challenge. (Double cryptic, I know!).
I knew all along that one day I would be facing my “first new country” as regards to YouTube. There is this misconception that I will just be wandering around with my camera and POOF!, a great video will magically appear. And lordy I wish this was true. But alas, videos take planning … because they require story. I have this checklist of research I need to do before I hit a new place. To learn and plan on what I can relate in video-format. And then and only then can I develop stories. What I’m going to be doing is a full-time job, with all of the responsibilities and tasks that one would expect.
So I had to ask a question the other day … “Where do you want to go first?”. The answer was Costa Rica, which honestly scared me a little. So I then asked the real question … “What kinds of stories can I find in Costa Rica to make videos about?”. And that’s the thing … I didn’t know. I will know, sure. But all of the sudden I was facing what was coming all along. That moment where something truly new is facing me and I have to figure out how to deliver in this new job of mine. Europe is easy … go to a big city with lots of history and find cool things. Central America is foreign to me. And I panicked a little. All of the sudden the enormity of what I’m going to be doing hit me. A year from now I’ll look back and scoff because this will be second nature, but right now?
When I decided to quit my job and start a new career as a full-time traveler slash content creator, I thought the hard part would be in the quitting. And yet that passed without difficulty. (Actually, it went extremely well!). And now that shadowy next step is suddenly before me and I’m scared. Not of the big things, but of the “can I really be a Traveling YouTuber”? I know I will succeed, but when you turn a corner and the big scary thing is standing right there in front of you … it’s startling to say the least.
So … let’s recap. My well planned venture into the unknown has been rerouted even before it starts and I’ll be facing potential challenges to my own priorities and principles. And even before that reroute starts I’m facing challenges to the smoothness and success of the entire venture. Which … is exactly how it should be. Seriously! I didn’t want a Disney-styled and smooth year-long vacation. I wanted adventure. And that always starts with a problem that needs to be solved. It’s a holiday when they run out of shrimp on the salad bar. It’s an adventure when your car engine explodes at 2am in the middle of nowhere.