If you’re a regular reader of my blog or follow me on social media you will have no doubt noticed I haven’t been around much lately.
I’m not a full time blogger so blogging isn’t something I NEED to do regularly. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it which is why I’ve spent the last 5 years of my life sharing my travel stories with you. But running a blog is not as simple as you may think it is. There is a lot of stuff that happens in the background which on a good day I’m more than happy to do.
However, lately I feel like I’ve lost all the drive and motivation I need to keep this blog running. Sometimes when I feel like this I just need to take some time away from my laptop, recharge and then come back ready to bring you more stories from my adventures.
But I feel like I need to be honest with you. This break has been different. Let’s get real, it’s 2020 and the whole world has gone to hell. We’ve all been struggling with certain aspects of this sudden life change but for some reason many of us, myself included, are ashamed to admit this. That’s why I wanted to write this post. I’m not doing ok guys but that’s ok. We are not alone in this. Literally the whole world is in this together!
I’ve always tried to be honest with you guys. I don’t want to just share the good side of travel but the bad and the ugly too. If you’ve been following me on social media for long enough you will have seen me crying on Snapchat or having a mental breakdown on Instagram.
That being said, while I’m happy to share my travel life on social media, I’ve always been a very private person. There are some ‘secrets’ I like to keep to myself. And it’s not just that I want to keep them off social media, some things I won’t tell anyone. I’ve always been that person who tries to deal with things on their own. Why burden others with my problems? To be honest with you this attitude stems from years of feeling alone to deal with things.
If you’re reading this slightly confused thinking ‘Claire I’ve seen you share lots on Instagram stories’ that’s because this is something I have been trying to work on. I’ve spent the last few years trying not to live in my head and actually talk to the people in my life. Because I do realise that I have an incredible support system that I’m truly grateful for. I guess the truth is I’m still learning how to use this network when I’m feeling down.
Why Haven’t I Been Honest?
It’s basically been a combination of guilt and stubbornness that’s stopped me from admitting I haven’t been ok. When the UK went into lockdown back in March everyone assumed I would struggle because I was living alone and well that bugged the hell out of me. I know the concerns were out of love but it’s frustrating hearing people assume I’m worse off just because I have chosen not to settle down with the wrong person.
My parents’ friends kept asking them “Is Claire alright?” and “how’s Claire holding up?” Which again, is sweet that they cared but still frustrating. I have an older brother who during lockdown had a 2 year old, a pregnant wife and redundancy to deal with. Yet it seemed no-one thought he needed regularly checking up on simply for the fact that he wasn’t alone. He had a family so he was ok. Claire was the one who needed help. To me, it felt like he was the one with real concerns!
So I kept quiet and insisted that I was having a great time. I was joking with everyone that I was lucky to be alone during lockdown. And I was! When I think back to some of the house shares I’ve been in I would have gone stir crazy being in lockdown with them! But after a while of having no friends, family or colleagues to interact with in person I was getting lonely. Not that I dared admit that to myself let alone anyone else!
Losing My Travel Plans
There was a meme going around Facebook that you should check on your travel loving friends because they are definitely not ok and this is true. I’m really good friends with several travel bloggers and everyone I’m close to has admitted they’ve been having a tough time. When you’re as passionate about travel as we are, it’s difficult to lose it.
Slowly I had to watch my travel plans cancel one by one and it was torture for me. I had a really great year planned! I was going to take a 2 week road trip around Scotland’s NC500 with the awesome Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren. A trip that actually drunk Claire organised! Drunk Claire is an awesome chick!
But the major loss was my trip to Barbados. I haven’t been to the Caribbean yet so I was really looking forward to a week exploring the island and having some much needed relaxation in the sun. If I’m completely honest with you, losing this trip hurt massively. I got teary when the time came that I would have been boarding my plane. To make myself feel better I made a lot of blue lagoon cocktails that week. Not the healthiest way to deal with your problems!
As well as these two trips I also had to cancel planning a weekend in Bordeaux for wine tasting. Plus I had to give up on the ideas that I would be able to visit friends in Canada and Texas. Now I have no idea when I’ll be able to see these friends again and that is an upsetting thought.
Losing My Work
Not only did I lose out on some pretty spectacular travel plans, I also lost my livelihood. As a freelancer in TV I had to watch my booked jobs disappear one by one. I do a lot of work for a British sports channel who had to massively reduce the amount of people coming into the building. That meant freelancers like me got our bookings cancelled.
I also had plans to head back to Manchester over the summer to work on a few major sporting events. Which of course, eventually got postponed to next year, cancelling my bookings for this summer.
And on top of all those cancellations I had no idea when I would get booked for anything again. Would the reality shows I usually work on at the end of the year even happen now?
What made things even more stressful was at the start the government didn’t have any interest in helping us self employed freelancers out. Staff got furloughed but it looked like we were going to get nothing. Thankfully they did eventually remember us! But it was stressful and I struggled to cope with it. I didn’t admit it to anyone but without my job I felt lost and with no purpose.
Why Am I Telling You All This Now?
Well it’s simple really. I’m telling you so you know you are not alone. During peak lockdown I was struggling but unwilling to tell people. I’ve come to realise over the last month that so many of my close friends were also struggling and I didn’t know about it. I love my friends and it hurt me to think they had been in pain and I didn’t know.
Then recently I realised I had caused that pain to a friend of mine. When they found out I needed to go for a 4 hour walk earlier that day they realised I wasn’t in a good place. Just as I had felt bad for my friends not coming to me sooner, my friends were upset I hadn’t come to them. And I think this is something we are all guilty of this year.
While I had a difficult time, I kept trying to convince myself I had nothing to complain about. Yes I had lost my work but I still didn’t have money problems. As a freelancer I knew to have money tucked away just in case I couldn’t work for a few months. Plus the government did help me out so really did I have anything to complain about? The truth is, there is always someone else worse off than you but that doesn’t take away from the fact you’re hurting.
I’ve come to realise I need to learn to reach out more when I’m not doing ok. People always say “I’m there for you” but the trouble with being someone like me is we either don’t believe them or don’t want to trouble them.
I remember one time during lockdown when I was really struggling. It was one of those days I had resorted to drinking earlier than I should have and the wine had just made me feel worse. I felt so low. Then a colleague friend of mine sent me a text to ask a work related question. I answered and that was the end of the conversation. In my drunken and emotional state I started crying thinking to myself “see no-one cares about me”. In reality that couldn’t be further from the truth! And how the hell could I have expected him to know how I was doing if I didn’t say. If I had just said something he would have mocked me (because we’re British and that’s what we do) and we would have had a laugh about it. He probably saw my reply as cold and thought “miserable cow!”
Am I OK Now?
While the UK hasn’t gone back into full lockdown, we still can’t socialise with more than 6 people in groups or go visit whoever the hell we want when we want. While travel has opened up it’s not possible for me to just jump on a plane and go somewhere. But work has restarted for me and that has helped my mental state a lot. I don’t quite feel like my old self just yet but I’m getting closer.
Travel may still be temporarily gone for me but I’ve been able to see more of my friends and family and going back to work and seeing my colleagues has been great. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve definitely been smiling and laughing more.
It’s kind of funny, even though 2020 has been the worst, there might be a silver lining to everything. I’m not going to say too much now but something recently happened that probably wouldn’t have happened had we not been living through these crazy times. It’s too early to say whether this will all go ahead or not but if it does I could be looking back at these horrific times thinking it was worth it. That’s the funny thing about life. You don’t know where it’s going to take you and sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at things through a different perspective.
So let me ask you, how are you doing? And I mean really doing?
More Personal Posts
If you like these more personal posts you may be interested in the following:
- That Time I Had to Flee Poland
- Confessions of My First Solo Trip
- How I Got Into Travel
- A Look Back at 2019
- The Downside to Business Travel