It took me nearly three weeks to write this out. So here we go.
One year, four months, and 26 days. That’s how long I’ve been non-nomadic.
Here are some things that have happened in the past 15 months or so.
- I started working 60-70 hour weeks. (I do not recommend working 60-70 hour weeks.)
- I paid off nearly $18,000 in debt accrued from a year abroad.
- I learned the value of meaningful work.
- I found incredible joy in daily routine.
- I discovered a newfound appreciation for my city, St. John’s.
- I fell in love.
This is some of what I remember from the summer of 2016:
Flying home from Berlin, unwillingly. Sobbing in the taxi to the airport. Sobbing at the airport. Sobbing in Munich. Sobbing on the entire eight-hour flight to Halifax.
Being hungry. Sitting on the floor of the pantry of my friend’s house, where I was housesitting, wondering what I could conjure up with macaroni and a tin of tomatoes. And an onion.
Long walks around the block, alone, listening to podcasts. Lying in bed at night, alone, being afraid.
Pushing down fury as I wrote copy for degrading freelance gigs that paid me $60 for 1,000 words. Relief that I could use $60 to buy a wedding gift for some of my best friends. Feeling like a sell-out for accepting $200 to promote a chocolate bar on my Facebook page. Knowing that $200 for the month might mean I could afford some food. Feeling like crawling home to my parents. Feeling entirely too sorry for myself.
When I applied for a full-time position at the women’s film festival last September, I never thought I’d get it. But I knew the festival; I had volunteered there in the past. And then I got the job and I had a renewed purpose and things started falling into place.
I was good at my job. It wasn’t like my other office jobs! In my 15 months back in the workforce, there wasn’t a single morning where I had to force myself out of bed; there was no oppressive dread pushing me back beneath the covers. I went willingly, and happily.
(Except during all the blizzards.)
I loved my coworkers. I started thinking critically about women in the film industry; I started paying attention to the phenomenal work that women are creating in Canada, and in Newfoundland, and in the world. I understood why the work I did was important and valuable, and this was a new concept to me. Feeling like I was doing something meaningful.
I made connections with the St. John’s arts community. I attended art shows, dance performances, screenings, workshops, panels, plays, and concerts. The little creative flame that lay dormant in my heart so long began to flicker again. I learned about digital marketing and PR work. I helped to assemble an entire communications and marketing plan for the festival, and we all executed it brilliantly. To see it all come together in the end — a prestigious, high-calibre festival of great reputation around the world — made me feel like being a part of something bigger than me.
Everything just came together.
By June of 2017, I was happy again; I was paying down my credit cards. The anxiety of debt and financial insecurity was lessening, slightly. I met my boyfriend Sean after a tumultuous few months of dating other people, and everything clicked.
There was just one thing missing.
And as hard I tried, and as much as I loved my job, I just couldn’t suppress that side of me. If art gives me meaning, travel gives me life.
The festival did what they could for me, and was generous with their flexibility. But as a non-profit, they could only extend so far.
Then I started working for Nomadic Matt, and completing research and administrative work for what was supposed to be a few hours a week. Those hours gradually increased. Initially this was a way to pay down my debt quicker, but as time went on and I became immersed back into the travel community, I realized how much I missed it. And I genuinely appreciated the work I was doing; it came naturally, and it was all so very interesting.
I had turned my back on the blogging scene entirely for the past two years, mostly because I was jaded by the overly staged Instagram shots and the boring blog posts and the meaningless holier-than-thou attitudes of a few folks tooting their own “my-life-is-amazing” horn. It’s hard not to be bitter about it, when you see so much other talent being squashed.
But I love Matt’s work. I flew to NYC last week to meet the team, and Matt hosted a Thursday night meet-up for the travel community. Within minutes, people wandered in to shake Matt’s hand and to say he was the reason why they started travelling. I met a girl from Romania who said she couldn’t even conceive of the possibility of travel until she attended a previous meet-up and realized, oh my god, people are living their best lives. Really.
It’s cool to see that happen. Beyond cool, really.
I left NYC feeling pretty darned good. And I had expected this to happen–which is why I didn’t renew my festival contract at the end of November. I now work for Matt mostly full-time, and I’m loving it.
This past year has also been bizarrely rewarding for my freelance portfolio, and I am continuously publishing stories with Canadian Traveller Magazine and CBC Arts (among others). I haven’t had much time to concentrate on my own creative projects, so I look forward to getting back to those. (Remember that Newfoundland guidebook? Yeah. Probably not.)
And blogging! I’ve been the worst blogger, and I miss it. I miss you guys. I logged into my Mailchimp the other day and realized I have over 1,000 email subscribers. I had no idea. I’ve been terribly neglectful. And therein lies my promise: I will be a better blogger. And leading by Matt’s example (and the other bloggers I actually love), I’d love to make this whole thing less about me and more about serving you in whatever life journey you’re on.
Even if I don’t know what that looks like yet. Even if you’d simply just like to be entertained by all my shenanigans.
I miss writing with that fire in my belly! It’s funny that after nearly a decade of freelance independence, it took 15-months at a full-time job to come to terms with what I need to do to succeed at being location independent. A routine, for one. And secondly, a distraction-free workspace. Tomorrow I start my membership at the city’s co-working space, Common Ground.
I sincerely hope this doesn’t mean I’ll fall out of touch with the St. John’s arts community — especially the festival. Being a supportive force for women filmmakers has made me realize that being an arts facilitator is one of the most incredible things I can do in my career, and I want to keep doing it.
So, that’s it. There’s my big rambling “life-is-kinda-fucked” post. New journeys, new missions, new purposes, new loves. It only took one year, four months, and 26 days.