A Year Abroad || Starting Fresh
This time last year, I was on a plane landing into Perth, Australia, the beginning of one of the craziest years of my life. Traveling across Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Canada and the Dominican Republic... it was a year full of highs and lows - but boy was it ever an adventure. From riding on the back of a Vietnamese local’s motorbike through the mountain side of Da Lat, to scuba diving with sharks and turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, to hiking 1500 metres up to Roy’s Peak in New Zealand, to getting my divemaster’s in the heart of the Coral Triangle... this year has been a whirlwind of life changing experiences.
These kinds of experiences always bring out what I like to call "borderline-over-reflective-Coley". With countless nights without internet and days of not-stop travel, I had a lot of time to reflect on what it was I wanted to be doing with my life, what I wanted to achieve, and what was important to me. Naturally, one of the things I reflected on the most was my social media presence, and within that, this blog. This small corner on the internet of mine is really where it all started. My love for writing and photography are what sparked the beginning of my entire journey I've taken since leaving high school five years ago. This was a platform for me to share my stories, what I was doing, what I was loving... but in the last couple of years I feel like I've lost that.
I think in today's day in age, as a creative (and a millennial) I put a lot of pressure on myself to fit a certain mold. We are constantly being shown that to be successful, to stay relevant, and to grow our platforms we have to look a certain way, talk about certain things, and post certain content. Sometimes I think our obsession with numbers cripples us from making the kind of awesome content we are capable of making. Comparing ourselves to others is so toxic for our own creativity, yet it's so easy to do with today's social media culture. Instead of creating things that make us happy, we end up in this loop of "if I edit my photos like _____ I'll get more followers" or "if I make the same kinds of videos as _____ I'll be successful" or "I need to look more like _____ to be popular".
It's so easy to put ourselves in a box, telling ourselves we can only create one kind of content if we want to be successful. We are a culture obsessed with labeling ourselves, constantly being told we need to have a specific niche to make it as a creative on the internet. Be it beauty or travel or fashion or whatever box it is we categorize ourselves in, it's easy to start to feel trapped and uncreative when we set ourselves rules and guidelines of what we can and cannot share.
It's because of these moulds I've tried to put myself in that I have put an obscene amount of pressure on myself to create a specific type content. Trying to be a "travel blogger" and a "fashion blogger" has left me feeling suffocated, uninspired, and creatively at a loss. This platform I started back in 2013 went from being something that was fun and inspiring to being something that I dreaded and stressed me out. When I came to this realization at the beginning of this year I knew I needed to fix it. So I started to ask myself, why do I follow the people that I follow? What is it about their content that made me keep coming back? Then it hit me... It wasn't really about the content they were making, it was about them as a person. It was their personality, energy and vibe that kept me subscribed, not their "niche".
This got me thinking. What if I were to do something radical... what if, instead of picking a "niche" topic and telling myself I had to just be a travel blogger or just be a beauty blogger, my niche was just me? Instead of trying to fit into a mold, I just share the stuff that interests me. Instead of obsessing over numbers and followers and the viability of my platforms, I just succumb to the process and create content again for the sake of creating and nothing more. It was like a lightbulb had gone off in my head and the noose around my neck disappeared.
So for the first time in a long time, I'm starting fresh and allowing myself to be free. I'm going to be radical. I'm going to start creating content again for me and not to fit into some label and box I don't think I really ever wanted to be in anyways.
Cape Arid, Australia || Hampden, New Zealand || Bangkok, Thailand
Pom Pom Island, Malaysia || Mũi Né, Vietnam || Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
So here's to fresh starts, to another year of adventures, and to being creative again. I feel like I've made so many comeback posts in the past... but this one feels real. For the first time in a long time I feel ready to just trust my gut and see where my creativity takes me...
I hope you guys are ready to come along with me. I've got so many stories about all the places I've been and the things I've learnt, and I can't wait to share them with you.