On Leading Double Lives and Owning What you Love

Up until this year, I had been leading a double life. Don’t worry, I’m not secretly a man or something, but I very, very carefully hid my online presence from family and friends. Evidently I didn’t hide it good enough, because it turned out Mom had been following me from day one. I should have known better than to think anything could get past my mother. Turns out even my former boss had been reading.

I’d untag myself on Facebook whenever someone posted an article I wrote, I never shared my website with people, and I certainly didn’t introduce myself as a travel blogger. I remember this concept of “travel blogger” as a profession being a shock to me—whenever Cailin and I were bar hopping in Halifax and meeting new people, she’d happily announce her online title. The only time I ever even handed out my business cards was to other bloggers. I couldn’t bear the scepticism from people who can’t seem to grasp a life outside of the 9-5 working world.

For me, writing has always been an incredibly personal, intimate experience. It took me a long time to welcome criticism, and I often doubted my abilities. But damn I need to write, and I always will. It’s like breathing.

Self censorship.

So then a few things happened in January to give me that final push. For one, I landed a press trip to Mexico and knew I had to work hard to get the exposure it needed. Secondly, I met Chris Guillebeau and read The Art of Non-Conformity. His thoughts on the inhibiting nature of fear really hit home with me, and I figured if people couldn’t accept my online geekdom, they probably weren’t worth my time. Like Spencer Spellman says, it all comes down to what you want to do.

It’s a shame it all took so long, because once I came clean, things started moving a whole lot faster for me. My readership doubled. I received an outpouring of emails and Facebook messages from friends and family telling me they were impressed by the writing, and loved my stories. Finally, Newfoundland and Labrador noticed I exist. It’s been a surreal few months, and I’m now finally 100% location independent and self-employed. I still have quite a way to go though, and “making a living” doesn’t mean I’m living well.

Unfortunately, I still find myself censoring some areas of my life. Recently I reread my old blog posts from years ago, and it was startling to see how much my style has changed. I used to be a lot more brash and spunky. I openly discussed my dating life and drunken fiascos, whereas nowadays I’ve actually had to make a few posts private…including the popular spacecake incident. I’m removing the ban on that one shortly. Judgement day is occurring on the 21st, after all.

It’s hard not to worry about what others think of you, especially when you live such a “public” life. I did a radio interview with CBC on Thursday, and I was so freaked out about how people would react, I couldn’t listen to the recording. I still get sick to my stomach when someone leaves scathing comments on an article I’ve written. And last night, I removed this featured “nude” photo from my Facebook profile because it was too racy. I’m supposed to be a role model to my Rangers troops, although I like to think I’m a “real world” model. I suppose I can hardly pretend I’m sweet, quiet and reserved young lady when my blog’s URL suggests I’m making love to the planet.

But there we have it. It’s taken me years to own what I love. I think when you actually give yourself a title and slap it to yourself like a nametag, you naturally assume the identity. So I’m a drunken travel blogger who often drops f-bombs. Who are you?

  • May 16 2011

    Dang, had a nice comment written and the captcha got me! L*

    Just wanted to say “great post!” And I know it’s tough to leave behind the “norm” and go out and take chances doing your own thing but I haven’t met anyone who’s done it who regrets it. I mean how often do you hear “I miss my little cubicle and time clock..?” It’s hard work but it so worth it!!

    P.S. I think that it’s a great photo of you and as classy as a naked woman and a flag can get :)

    • May 16 2011

      LOL, thank you, Aly! I’m not actually naked. ;) And you are so right…although occasionally I miss the more social aspect of office life.

  • May 16 2011

    I remember when I got your blog address when you drunkenly shared it with a coworker of yours I was dating, and when I late emailed you to profess my undying love for your sense of humour you said you regretted telling said coworkers about the blog ;P
    Totally makes sense that once you stop trying to hide who you are and what you do and embrace the life you want, good things will happen. Worked for me. Can’t fight destiny, or some such balogne cakes ;D

    I don’t think accepting criticism or receiving negative comments ever really gets easy. . but I think that sick feeling in your stomach helps keep you grounded. I go into panic mode everytime my boss wants to speak to me, even though 90% of the time she just wants my input on a case because she respects my abilities and I’m not actually in any trouble. . . I think when criticisms no longer bother you at all, it’s a fine line from being far to cocky to be around ;) (though, you have to be able to accept criticism a bit or you get cocky in a different way…)

    anyhow. i’ve been in like with you since the first time i found your blog, and i’m glad you’re getting the recognition you deserve :)

    • May 16 2011

      Hahaha, I remember that as well! Hard to believe it was just over a year ago. Craaaaazy.

      I like your thoughts on how that “sick feeling” keeps us grounded. That’s an awesome way of looking at it.

  • May 16 2011
    Susan

    Oh, I can totally understand this. I have always valued my privacy and I can’t imagine anything I would want less than to be “famous.” Whenever people slag celebrities for some foolish thing they have said, I give thanks that there wasn’t a microphone around OR cellphone cameras for some of my more gormless moments.

    And yet….on the other hand – how does one connect unless they step out there a bit? How does one share their enthusiasm and learn from strangers unless they allow themselves to be vulnerable?

    I tend to completely ignore scathing criticism, because to me, it says way more about the sayer than the target. Constructive, respectful criticism is another thing. Just when I’ve convinced myself that I have really and truly learned humility, I seem to get another ****ing “growth opportunity”! As I have always loved writing, when it applies to that, it is a lot more squeamish for me.

    Personally, Candice, I find your writing an excellent balance between personal and professional, between quirky/hilarious and informative. As we planned our trip out there, I read all your posts about Newfoundland, found out what cod tongues and scrunchions were, was amazed that someone other than my brother ate fried bologna, got the info on Nl sayings. It gave me a feeling that I kind of ‘knew’ someone in Newfoundland before I got there, and it made me feel welcome there. I think that would be missing if you didn’t put your own self, your personality, your feelings into your work. That’s a good thing and I suspect it is what you are trying to accomplish. And I guess the challenge, as you get more recognition, is knowing where to draw the line.

    Best wishes.

    • May 18 2011

      Susan, I might have to keep this comment somewhere safe so I can return to it when I’m feeling blue…it’s wonderful, thank you! And that intimate connection to the land is EXACTLY what I’m hoping to portray here, and I’m so glad you felt welcomed here because of it. So, so, so happy. I wish the tourism department could read such a comment! Next time, beers on me.

  • May 16 2011
    Steph

    This is a great post and the picture is awesome! *pats you on back* I also agree with the “sick feeling” keeping people grounded. I too am one of those people who panics when my boss wants to see me, and the same as the person above, it’s usually to get my input rather than be in trouble! In the meantime, I LOVE, LOVE, LOOOVVVEE your writing! Ever since you went “public” and we could all see it, I always look forward to what you’re going to say next!! And it so nice to see you getting so much recognition for it!!! :)

    • May 18 2011

      Thank you, Steph!!! Sometimes knowing that friends IRL are reading me makes a big difference too, I like knowing I have support at home. Woot!

  • May 16 2011
    Kay Jax

    *GIANT HIGH FIVE*

    “The inhibiting nature of fear” will get me every time. Anything worth doing is usually a challenge and terrifying. I’m super proud of you, and very tempted to quit life and hid in your suitcase for #CCC (#CCKC? ;) )

    Get out there; I’ll be following.

    Bravo.

    • May 18 2011

      Love you Kay Jax! Wish I were there to celebrate your Birthday. You should totally join me on the trip!

  • May 16 2011

    You are one fine writer and you’ve had us hooked ever since we read your first travel piece. Your creative and entrepreneurial energy are a beacon in Atlantic Canada and a great example of the enormous potential in your generation. We are honoured to count you as a friend, online and in life. Best, Doug at the Authentic Seacoast

    • May 18 2011

      Thank you thank you thank, Doug! Means a lot coming from someone already so established!

  • May 16 2011

    hahaaaaaaa I love this part :

    “I can hardly pretend I’m sweet, quiet and reserved young lady when my blog’s URL suggests I’m making love to the planet.”

    But, yeah– I know exactly what you mean. I keep everything completely separate. I know my mom reads it, but I once yelled at her for posting a link on her facebook page.. hehe

    You certainly make a lot of points for “switching over” though.. maybe I should consider it.. but I’m scared :s

    • May 18 2011

      DO IT! Your blog freaking rocks! NO SHAME!

  • May 16 2011

    I usually don’t censor myself, other than mainly profanity usage, but ten years ago when I first started my blog, and was partying more, I probably did. LOL But now, I don’t really worry too much about it.

    The way I look at it is this is your blog and people are reading it for your experiences. If they don’t want to know you, they shouldn’t be here. =) I think you’re fine the way you are.

    • May 18 2011

      I agree! The same goes for what I share on Facebook. I’ve always been so worried about what others thought of me, but really if you’re gonna judge me based on a few photos, you’re probably not worth knowing in the first time.

  • May 16 2011

    So, what you’re telling me is…what we’ve been reading as of late is the “censored” version of Candice?

    Uh oh. DO THE WORLD, lady! I wanna read about it!!

    • May 18 2011

      Oh god, I should send you the OTHER blog link! Hahahaha.

  • May 16 2011

    I often worry some of my posts will be ‘too much’ for some readers and I’ll scare them off. On the other hand, I’m fearful too much censorship limits me creatively (thus boring the f-bomb out of both me and readers). It seems like either way I’m in trouble.
    *sigh*
    I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I hate flags.
    :)

  • May 16 2011

    I’m the same way. I still don’t tell most people I meet about my blog. It’s something I care about so much that introducing new people to it means potentially new critics. But that’s something I will just have to get over. And the mean comments never get any better. Found one the other day from an old guest post I did that was pretty brutal, but there will always be haters. Some people don’t get me or my style of writing. That’s okay. Carry on, my Canadian comrade! The web is better for having you in it.

    • May 18 2011

      Ah yes, they always sting! But it hurts less, eventually. :) Get out there, girl! Your blog rocks!

  • May 16 2011

    Bravo Candice! You should own it because you and your blog are totally awesome. I am so happy for you that you get to be “out there” now. And might I say- you look so cute in that pic up there. I don’t think it’s too racy at all!

  • May 17 2011

    Yours was one of the first blogs that I came across actually and I loved it because you were so honest.

    I know what you mean about telling people you are travel blogger, I assume that people won’t even know what I’m talking about. In their mind ‘blogging’ is something you do when you go on a study abroad trip and when you get back it just sits on the web with no updates.

    I always knew that you would be a huge success and I always thought that travel blogging was actually your profession until someone told me otherwise! haha.

    • May 18 2011

      Hahaha, thank you, Annie! It’s nice to know people appreciate the honesty. Perhaps I’ll have to censor less from now on. Oh dear…

      Looking forward to meeting you. :)

  • May 17 2011

    Hey! You are SO cute, Candice! I love reading your writing, it’s so inspiring. The last line of this piece is so clever :) I officially quit my job and moved to Puerto Rico for 3 months this year.. going back next season too. I really thought I’d write more especially down there, but I’m still having writer’s block or i’m too scared, or too critical of myself or what have you. I’m still looking for myself out there so maybe when things come together in other parts of my life, then my writing will. I’m living in Montauk, NY all summer soaking in the sun and meeting tons of people, so we’ll see! But I do read your site when I need that extra inspiration. <3

    • May 18 2011

      WHOAA I didn’t know that!! I had no idea you left! You go girl! Now get out there and START WRITING! And thank you for your kind words, as always. :)

  • May 17 2011

    I couldn’t bear the scepticism from people who can’t seem to grasp a life outside of the 9-5 working world. <– Yes ma'am! I just graduated from college (like, yesterday) and "freelance" isn't really in the vocabularies of parents, relatives, other new grads, and professors. Ultimately, I think we put too much emphasis on what we do rather than who we are. In the corporate world, you DO your job, but does that mean that's who you ARE? And if so, is that who you want to be? Congrats on owning your new title- I hope one day I'll share a similar success story!

    Hope

    • May 18 2011

      First of all, congrats on your graduation! :) Secondly, honestly, the success is still in progress…but you gotta start somewhere, right? Go for it!

  • May 17 2011

    I read this post yesterday, but I didn’t have time to comment. I’ve been leading a double life too – I haven’t told my friends or family about my blog. I’m not ashamed, I just don’t want to deal with the criticisms. But reading this post inspired me to tell a friend yesterday. I’m really happy you’ve owned what you love – it’s inspiring other people to do the same.

    • May 18 2011

      Alouise, that makes me SO EXCITED! How did you friend react? Daaaamn. I’m so happy you did that.

      • May 26 2011

        Honestly I don’t think she noticed that. I slipped it in pretty casually. I started telling my friends and family I’m going to a writing conference in Vancouver in June. But now I’m telling them it’s a blogging conference, and I guess what happens will happen.

  • May 18 2011

    I literally LOL’ed at your last question: “So I’m a drunken travel blogger who often drops f-bombs. Who are you?”

    Way to be loud and proud, girl. I love your sense of humor and look forward to reading your posts–it’s not easy to be funny when writing, but you make it look effortless.

    • May 18 2011

      Thank so much Christine, and likewise! Love hearing from new readers.

  • May 18 2011

    We are all so quick to doubt ourselves. I know the feeling as much as you do.
    But you Candice – I have believed in you from the start. I have loved your honesty and one liners – some of which I still remember from a year ago. You are one of the most talented writers I have come across so keep up the good work and tell everyone what you do.
    I am totally looking forward to meeting you!
    Love the photo – especially the pearls.

    • May 18 2011

      Agh I keep responding to these comments with “that means so much to me!” but it really, really does. Love that you remember stuff I wrote ages ago. It makes me happy beyond words. Also, looking forward to crashing with you next month!

  • May 18 2011

    Oh man – I get butterflies when people ask what I do for a living. I usually cop out and just say wedding photographer. It has been so awesome to see you bloom. I’m hoping that our turn comes up. Congrats lady!

    • May 18 2011

      Hehe, I didn’t even know you were a wedding photographer! Own it, my dear. ;)

  • May 18 2011

    Congratulations on finally achieving your dream. This was inspirational and hilarious! :)

    <3 Belly B

  • May 18 2011
    Leanne

    I’m from Newfoundland too…and a blogger, and I think the same way, ha.

    Funny thing is, I also went to Harlow… hahaha smallllll world ;)

    • May 18 2011

      Hahahaha, chances are we have a wide circle of mutual friends…

  • May 18 2011

    We’re definitely in a similar stage as you were when you were starting out. My family still doesn’t know anything about our site – I’d like to keep the 3 circles of friends (family, regular friends, blog friends) separate for now :) But maybe someday we’ll be able to ‘own what we love’.

    Great piece of writing, btw!

    • May 18 2011

      Yeah I hear ya. when I started out it was also largely because I was working full-time and didn’t want my employers to think I was getting ready to leave. so yeah, sometimes discretion is a good thing. :)

  • May 18 2011

    Finally, you are “outed”. Bout’ time, because I always loved your sassy, intelligent voice.

    I always forget you left Uni not too long ago, because your presence is so strong and mature.

    Your FB updates seriously amuse me daily and now the whole world can enjoy them. Woot!

    • May 18 2011

      Hahaha yes, I’m “out”! Thanks, Jeannie. Love that you find me mature, considering half my content. ;) See you SOON!

  • May 18 2011

    I was like that too in the beginning so shy to even put my posts up on Facebook, now I’m a shameless self promoter :)

    • May 24 2011

      And it worked out quite nicely for you!

  • May 18 2011

    I feel the same way sometimes- mainly from real life friends (not that my blogger friends don’t live in real life- but ya know what i mean). It seemed that they didn’t understand creating relationships online- and it’s funny because if i’m with them at a bar, they’ll say- hey, read your recent post on Vagabond3 and it’s awesome. but they never leave a comment. they say- oh, I don’t want to sound stupid!
    So, I guess we all doubt ourselves! You are definitely a travel blogger that I look up to!

    • May 24 2011

      Very true! I’m often surprised to learn just who’s reading my blog. But often I’m pleasantly surprised, too.

  • May 19 2011

    Great post Candice, it’s almost like confessing to your parents you’re gay or something.

    But now you’re out the closet!

    I never really censored myself, and my family knew about my blog from day 1, as it was half for them originally anyway so they could follow my travels. However some things can’t be written obviously, but we’re all entitled to our privacy, you get to choose your own level by what you write.

    So many of my friends have blogs now, it’s quite a normal thing, just most of them don’t bother building up a massive following.

    • May 24 2011

      Hahaha funny story, when I mentioned about “coming out of the blog closet” awhile ago, someone actually thought I was confessing to being gay. No wonder I haven’t had any dates in awhile.

  • May 19 2011

    Great post, as trite as that sounds! I tell people I am a travel blogger and those looks I get after I do are actually motivating. A lot of people think I am either A. making up my profession and living in my parent’s basement or B. they will ask how much “free” travel I receive. They are almost always slaps in the face, but like I said I find them motivating to just work hard and better.

    • May 24 2011

      So true. :) I’m that same kinda person, I like proving people wrong. Makes me work harder!

  • May 23 2011

    I’m always torn as to how much to share on my blog, since I am a high school teacher and I know that some of my students (and coworkers!) are reading along. Last year I made the decision to put my real name out there, and it has both been liberating and intimidating at the same time. I am sometimes scared of the judgement (mostly from people I know in real life!) but realize that I blog for ME and to connect with other bloggers so I don’t let this fear phase me! Cheers to you, fellow Canuck (I’m from Toronto but living in Hong Kong!), and I’ll continue to read along!

    • May 24 2011

      Awesome, Oneika, I love that you’ve shared your blog with your students! There’s definitely a blurry line there…blogging becomes much more challenging when it can possibly affect your career, for sure.

  • June 12 2011

    I am proud of your progress in this area. I used to be the same way, and sometimes I still think it would save me aggravation if I told no one about my blog. People who don’t know me well or understand what it’s like to be writer get all panicky when I have a particularly personal or upsetting post about something bothering me. I had to actually account for one of those posts when out with friends last night. It’s not our job to make others understand, though — it’s out job to express ourselves in the way we want, and everyone who doesn’t get it can go to hell.

    • June 13 2011

      Fuck yeah! After talking about this with people at TBEX, I’m gonna start being more honest again. It’s tricky, but awesome.

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