Before I became a "travel blogger", I just, um, travelled. I didn't have a Twitter or Instagram account (heck, I didn't even have an iPhone) and I took a picture when I wanted to - not because I thought it would be "shareable content" (gross). My life was a hashtag-free zone.
But then - and I can't exactly pinpoint when the shift happened - I suddenly had a few more readers. I started sharing my posts on social media and they were shared, and my writing got a little bit of attention from people other than my mom (no offense, Mom).
It made me happy. I liked being part of this community of travel enthusiasts. I'd always wanted to be a travel writer and this blog allowed me to do just that - without any pressure or pitches or expectations or rejections.
But slowly, that's exactly what happened with my blog. I started pitching to a hypothetical audience (that's you). I asked myself before writing a caption, composing a tweet, or pressing "publish" on a post - would you read this? Would you like it? Like it enough to leave a comment? Like it enough to share?
I'd be lying if I said that I wrote this blog just for myself. Sometimes, I feel like I only write it for you. So, I started obsessing over what you would want to read. What your reaction would be. What would annoy you or make you laugh or make you think. It made (still makes) me anxious and paranoid and insecure.
My vacations became all about taking photos and pre-planning blog posts (which I wrote about here). I was anything but relaxed. I was on my phone all the time and ignoring my poor husband, who simply wanted to enjoy where he was - and whom he was with.
So, before we landed in Bordeaux, I decided to do something a little different: I would take any photos I wanted to at the beginning of a meal or a hotel stay, then put my camera away for the rest of the time and give myself half an hour or so in the evening to post any images I felt like sharing.
It made all the difference. I could fully focus on savouring the flavours on my plate, or taking in my surroundings and chatting with my husband, instead of being pre-occupied with getting the right angle or light for a photo and saying, "Yep, mmm hmm," as I uploaded another photo to Instagram or Twitter.
As a result, I returned from Bordeaux feeling refreshed and inspired. The slow-living culture had appealed to me, sure, but more importantly, the self-control I practised helped me get the most out of our trip.
I'm not going to pretend that it solved all my problems. I'm still anxious. I still fret over which photo to take, which image to post, what words to share. I've just reduced that anxiety by a fraction. And that fraction has allowed me to remember why I write in the first place - not for you (sorry!), but for me.
This month's travel link-up theme was "Travel Blogger Problems" - if you're a blogger, what tops your list? And if you're not a blogger, what do you think of it all? Have we become too preoccupied in documenting and sharing every aspect of our lives? Join in the discussion with hosts Angie, Emma, Jessi, and this month's guest host, Lauren.