Berlin Updates, 30 Days of Journaling, & Life Goals
As some of you may know, I spent a year backpacking through Europe, India, and Africa. After scoping out options on where I wanted to live, I finally settled in Berlin. I can’t really say “settled” because I’m still waiting on my residence permit, which could take a while to get approved. Because of this, I once again find myself living in the in-between. This has caused me to question a lot of things: my career, my lifestyle, my goals, my relationships. Everything.
Let’s Start With Career
Over the summer, I went to a travel blogging conference because I thought that’s what I wanted to do. It seemed like the perfect combination of things I love: writing, creating content, and traveling endlessly. The travel blogging conference taught me a lot and allowed me to meet lots of other travel bloggers in the industry. I was so inspired by all the people who were actually “making it” and succeeding online. It gave me hope that I would be able to do the same. Initially, I was really excited to get started and formulate a better plan-of-action for my content.
Week after week, I sat down at my computer and started thinking of travel-related topics and posts I could write about and create content for. For a while, I was doing pretty well with it. I would write one post a week, which was a lot more frequently than I had been doing whilst on my year-long adventure, and I felt motivated to keep it going. However, I realized soon enough that it took a lot more work than I thought it would. The people that are most successful at it make it seem easy, but I fully understand now that it’s not. Additionally, the most successful travel bloggers often make a certain income that allows them to hire teams to take care of backend stuff and help with production. I think this speaks to the top tier of bloggers, and they for sure started somewhere, like me.
But working hard toward something wasn’t the problem - it was that I didn’t see the point in promoting travel for a greater purpose. I love traveling and all, but I don’t really know if me going to a palace in India was really bringing anything meaningful to the table. I want to change the way that people think, help solve a problem, or bring something of value to the overcrowded Internet—not just to have bragging rights and flashy pictures of places I’ve been to.
I also started to feel that the way I presented myself on my social platforms wasn’t really representative of the true me. This is something I struggle with a lot because I feel like I should be the same on and offline. Otherwise, it creates a strange identity crisis. I guess you can’t really ever be who you are offline as you are on, but you can try to represent yourself as accurately as possible, right?
This sent me into a tailspin of asking myself what my purpose is, what I should do with my life, what am I good at, and what I am willing to work towards. On top of asking myself all of these questions, I was trying to navigate the matrix that is Berlin’s visa system, constantly moving to new apartments, and still having a social life. Which brings me to my lifestyle changes…
Apartment Hunting in Berlin is the Absolute Worst!
I moved from one apartment to another to another in three months—you do not want to be in that position in Berlin. It’s arguably more difficult to find an apartment here than it is to find a job. Uprooting my life every couple of months felt tiring and difficult. Not counting the hostel I stayed at when I first arrived here, I am currently living in my third place in three months. Moving this frequently and not having a long-term place to live made me feel as though I was never really settled. You’d think I’d be used to it having backpacked for a year, but no. I was moving more out of necessity and not by choice.
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Shelter is one of the basic physiological needs that should be filled. And with that basic need constantly changing, my life was in limbo. I want to stay here and get my life in order, not move around constantly by force, and have a stable living situation. This caused a lot of stress and emotions to come up for a good few months. That uncertainty was so taxing on my body and mind.
Luckily, I am happy to report that I finally have a new place to live in and I don’t need to leave anytime soon. So, this is good!
Figuring Out Life Goals
Once I started realizing that travel blogging wasn’t exactly what I wanted to continue doing, I had to ask myself, “What else?” That’s when I started rapidly consuming podcasts, self-help books, and doing journaling exercises to help me better pin-point my goals and address this inner struggle I was facing. Inspired by the Don’t Keep Your Day Job Podcast, I kept a journal for 30 days and each day I wrote 1) What excited me today? 2) What drained me today? 3) What did I learn about myself. The same three questions would be answered everyday. I got this idea from author of The Third Door, Alex Banayan, who talk about the exercise on this episode of the podcast.
This actually gave me a lot of clarity and I actually stuck to it every single day. There were certain days in there that were incredibly hard due to things that were happening with my visa, and so my entires would be a little bit erratic at those points. Keeping a journal like this doesn’t just mean you write about these three answers and throw it away at the end. You actually have to go back and read what you’ve written. When I did that, I started to notice my own thought patterns. This also made me dig deeper into my childhood; I thought about why I am the way I am and what situations or events made me feel a certain way. I thought back to what teachers and peers would tell me I was good at, or how I handled disappointment, or what my reaction would be when I didn’t get my way. What did I get upset at? How did I handle criticism? How did I react to change? 30 days of journaling helped me learn more deeply about what I want in life and how I should start taking action.
So if you’re wondering what it was that I learned about myself from this journaling experiment, it’s this: I like being able to talk to and relate to people on a deeper level, in one-on-one scenarios. I like getting to know people beyond just surface level and helping them figure out how to feel better about their lives and/or change their mindsets. I learned that the things that drained me were trying to please everyone, not focusing on my own wellbeing, and wanting everyone to like me. I learned that I am really hard on myself and I shouldn’t be. I learned that I love creating and making things. I learned that I like connecting with people from around the world. And the people I enjoy helping and working with most are other women.
And so, where am I supposed to go from here? (Well, right now I literally can’t go anywhere because I’m still waiting for my visa to process, ha). I want to change directions and do something different than what I’ve been creating for this blog. I no longer want to focus just on travel. I want to do something bigger than that, something that not only brings value to my own life, but to other’s lives as well. I want to do something more related to health, wellness, and helping women.
I have a clear idea of how I would like this side hustle to take shape and it involves yoga, spirituality, and wellness. But as always, this is still a work in progress. While I continue to define this path, I am still copywriting, creating content, and occasionally blogging.
Always (re)Defining Myself As a Copywriter
Throughout the years, I have maintained my path as copywriter for different companies and industries. It’s also a career path that is ever-changing, especially considering the fact that people are more visually-oriented now more than ever. At the core, I’ve always thought of myself as a creative writer, but copywriting is so much more than just creative words or ideas. There is a lot more involved in copywriting which includes strategy, branding, SEO, and analytics. These are things that I am trying to keep up with still, as I know they’re important both in my copywriting career and in whatever I decide to do next.
Recap: The Last Four Months in Berlin:
Moving from place to place, learning a new culture, not understanding the language, applying for jobs/visa, blogging, making friends. That was my summer laundry list. Whenever there’s a lot of change happening in my life like this. I try to sit in a quiet space, think about everything that’s happening, and slow it down in my mind. That’s definitely easier said than done, and sometimes I do the complete opposite, running around frantically trying to get everything done and sometimes crying in public.
In reality, it’s only been four months since I moved here, and I still feel fairly new-ish to the city. Finding my place will take a bit more time, and taking on a new city with all its flaws and magical happenings is something I can surely manage. It’s always changing and adjusting and throwing a challenge in my way, but something tells me I’ll be okay.
I can do this.