Travel and Lifestyle Blogger Trappings and Confessions

“Under present conditions, people are preoccupied with consumer goods not because they are brainwashed but because buying is the one pleasurable activity not only permitted but actively encouraged by our rulers. The pleasure of eating an ice cream cone may be minor compared to the pleasure of meaningful, autonomous work, but the former is easily available and the latter is not. A poor family would undoubtedly rather have a decent apartment than a new TV, but since they are unlikely to get the apartment, what is to be gained by not getting the TV?”
-Ellen Willis

There seems to be a never ending supply of articles about how we curate an idealized version of ourselves on social media, where we’re rewarded with likes and positive comments, gamifying the art of façade. This seems to be especially true on the world of travel and lifestyle bloggers. There is a lens of lux expense over everything. It makes sense. If you’re going to present a lifestyle that people are supposed to aspire to, one full of travel and adventure, of course it’s going to look expensive because travel and adventure is expensive.

The most recent example of this to strike me is also one of the many little things that inspired me to get off my ass and start writing this blog. I impulse purchased Gala Darling’s Radical Self Love when it was marked down to $3 on Amazon. While she does totally have some points, I can’t help but be bothered by this seemingly wealthy woman teaching people to love themselves while she travels the world and posts selfies that show off her Chanel phone case. She’s earned that money and has every right to post those selfies, and maybe she got the case on sale, but it all paints an idealized picture that hard to relate to and sometimes even makes me resent paying the $3 for her book, even if I did get something out of it.

I don’t want to fall into that trap of presenting a perfect persona on here, with designer accessories and glamorous travel.

So here is some cold hard truth….

Yes, this is travel-ish blog, but I don’t spend my life traveling.

I’m 31 and have a fulltime office job. It’s not glamorous and it’s not uncommon for me to be out in the field crawling through dirt running cables or hauling equipment.

I rent a room from my best friend and her dementia addled grandma because I am buried by the debt I racked up in my 20’s thanks to poor decisions; some with credit cards, some with jobs, and, most notably, with the spontaneous decision to go to grad school after being let go from my shitting music business job, just nine days before the application deadline. That decision doubled my student loan debt and I didn’t finish the degree.

Two falls ago I decided that I couldn’t keep driving the same decrepit old Explorer that I had been driving since high school after dropping about $2500 in repairs over the course of about a year and a half. I never knew if it was going to start. It was falling apart, and the gas mileage was killing me. I bought a new car, not a fancy expensive one, but a new one that happened to be the cheapest new model of any maker on the market at the time, that I intend to drive until it is long since paid off and falling apart like its predecessor. Could I have bought something used and cheaper? Of course! I weighed the benefits of the long term investment with the additional debt and chose to take on the additional debt.

I am struggling to dig myself out of debt. Sometimes I stumble and sometimes (though not often) I choose to spend $500 on a road trip instead of throwing it all at my credit card payment because it make me happy and I have the privilege (for now, at least) to make that decision.

I’m not looking to justify any of this. I am responsible for all of this. My point is that I am not an ideal. At all.

I’m me.

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