How a great vacation made me feel like a failure

What is it about the week following a vacation that makes you begin to question every little piece of your non-vacation life? Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect I’m not the only person who has encountered the phenomenon.

A week ago I was relaxing on the coast of North Carolina. There was a beautiful, roomy beach house, right on the water, with wrap-around decks on two stories. There was a weather-worn wooden walkway across grassy, sandy dunes. The sound of waves crashing rose and fell, but always hovered in the background. Technically already in the off-season, the beaches felt private, like they belonged to a small group of neighbors who’d known each other forever, although – like us – most of the people there were still likely visitors.

Cool breezes, warm sun, homemade dinners, jigsaw puzzles and long, lazy days of reading, chatting, napping and extended walks on the beach.

Emerald-Isle-beach-house-porch

Vacations have a tendency to remind people that part of the joy in life is an occasional slow-down.

But then you return home. Back in your own home, staring at the coming Monday and the exact same routine as before the vacation. It’s a stark contrast and suddenly making the adjustments, trying to find those extra spaces to enjoy the little things seems impossible. There’s more work, errands, chores and bills than you seem to recall, and it all looks very grim.

This is probably the spot where most folks either adjust and adapt, or simply resign themselves to the status quo, but plan to take more regular vacations.

This is the spot where I am unable to see any possibility of change, and wonder whether perhaps I’m in the wrong place. Doing the wrong thing.

Example: where is my career headed? I’ll tell you. Nowhere. That is because I don’t actually have a career. What I have is a lot of ideas that I’m afraid to implement and a blog that I’m not certain is achieving what I’d hoped that it would.

From the beginning, I’ve had two goals for this blog.

  1. As an outlet in which to practice writing.
  2. To touch other lives, on an individual level.

The first of these goals should be self-sufficient. If I write, I’ve achieved my goal of writing. Sure, some days I feel better about the finished product than others, but it’s an effort in practice. Just doing the work.

The latter goal is a little trickier. I have received the occasional comment indicating that someone feels quite the same way that I do about something, or that they laughed heartily at one of my posts. Those comments make me feel connected, and relevant, and I am so very grateful for those words. However, blogging these days is a tricky thing. While the blogging community is powerful, supportive and unbelievably helpful, it makes me wonder whether the words I’m writing ever make it outside of the blogging circle. Do non-bloggers read blogs, anymore? It feels sort-of like the tree falling in the forest.

Is it about money? I don’t think so. While I’d certainly like to find a way to earn some money from this venture, the goal would be to do it in an organic way. Somehow work with sponsors that I would support were there no incentive involved.

Perhaps I’m just whining because I’m not a popular blogger. I don’t have hundreds (or even one hundred) followers. Perhaps I’m feeling like the sad kid sitting alone in the lunchroom, and that’s what makes me feel like a failure.

Dammit. I just typed that I feel like a failure. I did not actually know that was coming.

Emerald-Isle-North-Carolina-waves

My, this post has taken quite the turn, hasn’t it?

Perhaps the problem is that, on vacation, you think all things are possible. And then, coming back to the real world, if you aren’t already feeling successful, or that you’re on the road to success, you’re hit with a hard reality. My reality is that I don’t know whether my blog is successful. On paper, in numbers, it isn’t. Is the writing enough? Is the occasional interpersonal connection enough? The answer is that those things should be enough, but the numbers still get me. If valuable connections are being made, shouldn’t the numbers reflect that? And if the numbers are low, doesn’t that mean I’m failing?

For the record, if anyone else said these things, I would call it flawed thinking and say it was comparing apples to oranges. But it’s so much harder when the words are coming from inside my own head. It’s very difficult to argue with, or try to correct, yourself.

So that’s where I’m at, today. Basic meaning of life and personal worth stuff. The easy questions.

Although, to be clear, the vacation really was great.

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4 Comments
  • Niki
    October 20, 2015

    This makes me sad to read. You’re not a failure in any way. You’ve accomplished so much, Cassia, and you continue to do so. I will say blog-wise, I have seen a decline in commenting overall over these last couple of years, even with very successful blogs. And you’re doing the right thing by posting about your blog on Facebook so that non-bloggers can read (& watch!!!). Try taking to anyone and everyone you meet about it, and even drop business cards in places like Starbucks. But most of all, please know that these things do take time, and knowing you personally for all these years, I know that you are IMMENSELY talented. Don’t get down on yourself. You’ve got IT (and many people don’t).

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      October 22, 2015

      Thanks, Niki 🙂 You’re always in my corner and it means SO much! Not to mention such praise coming from someone who has been so incredibly successful in the blogging world. I look up to you!

  • LIndsay
    October 21, 2015

    I am so sorry you’re feeling this way about blogging and life right now. I really do hate it. I can tell you that I feel this way every single day about blogging and my career. I wish I could offer you some beautiful advice, but I don’t have any. I can tell you that I think you’re a fantastic writer. I can also tell you that you need to find what makes you HAPPY. Life is so freaking short and you need to invest in your passion. Shoot me an email if you want to talk more!

    • Jeans and a Tank Top
      October 22, 2015

      Thank you, Lindsay. Your words mean a great deal to me – more than I can say. It is incredibly flattering to hear support for my writing from someone whose words I enjoy reading so very much. Hearing that you’ve felt similarly is both reassuring and surprising. You, and your work, inspire me. Truly, thank you.

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