I spent Sunday evening curled up on the sofa with a sexy-size bowl of couscous, pesto, veg and halloumi. I caught up on Teen Mom 2 and then got stuck into a new series on Netflix (big shout out to How To Get Away With Murder – if you’re not already on that hype, it’s a bit dark, a bit like 90210 and also the main guy is hot, just y’know, don’t tell Chris I said that..).
I also made myself a little Nutella and coconut pancake and tried to kid myself I was eating from a street stall in Thailand, and I scrolled through the weekend’s Instagram updates from the comfort of a freshly washed blanket.
Y’see Sunday was – and don’t laugh at me because I know that I kid myself that I’m a super sassy independent woman – the first night I’ve ever spent on my own in Ipswich.
Yuh huh. In the 23 months that I’ve lived here, I’ve never had a night without Chris.
I mean sure OK, there’s been the odd night where he’s stumbled in at 4am after one too many ‘lad bombs’ and decided to attempt to feed the cats all of their treats and biscuits and wet food sachets all at once because food=love, but there’s never been a night where I’ve been totally alone.
And I was, well, I was a little scared.
I mean OK yes more than a little scared because I don’t like the dark and WHAT IF SOMEONE IS HIDING IN THE BUSHES AND HAS SUPER STRENGTH AND CAN BREAK DOWN MY FRONT DOOR.
Which is all mega lolz considering I lived in a ground-floor studio flat in East London on my own for a year before moving here, and so I should feel all street-wise and come at me world, but I don’t.
Whilst he was away, I missed the company, I missed someone to help me step away from work in the evenings, I missed someone to look after the cats with me, to talk about the cats with me, to make me coffees in the mornings and teas at night, someone to discuss what to eat for dinner with, someone to chat to in bed, I missed our routine and the life we’ve made together over the past two years.
He was only away for three days, on his brother’s stag do in Portugal, but it made me think a lot more about the time I spend away from home.
Because I am away a lot – sometimes just for a night, and sometimes, as was the case with Trek America, for two weeks.
Press trips and travel is always seen as the most glamorous aspect of blogging – that if you can secure yourself on a free voyage abroad and plaster it across your social channels, then you’ve made it. You’re doing something right, people want to work with you, you are a bloomin’ success.
And I always felt that I needed to jump on that bandwagon to prove my worth. I felt like I was defined by how many countries my Instagram featured in a year because zomg she must have so many readers and must be making so much money if people are PAYING for her to go to Spain for the weekend.
Who gives a donkey if she’s actually regularly posting good content? Or if she’s engaging with her audience. If she’s posing on a sandy beach, she’s hit peak successful blogger. Y’know?
I’ll be honest, even when it makes me sound like a grade-A twat, I hadn’t really thought too much about how Chris felt when I went away. I assumed he missed me, I assumed that he probs preferred life when I was around, but that he was happy for me and just letting me live my life and grasp every opportunity that came my way.
But when it was turned the other way round – I felt like half of myself. But like, the rubbish half. The half of me I don’t like so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a STRONG pamper evening. Long bath, little summin’ summin’ from LUSH, mud mask and all that – and it was dreamy to have full control of the TV remote, but only for like, an evening, and then I was over it. I wanted my home life back to the way I was used to it.
And it made me realise that actually, maybe I’d been putting myself first for too long.
You have to be a little selfish when you’re self-employed, especially when you first start out – you have to get yourself out there, say yes to every opportunity and work your little toosh off. It’s hard to get yourself in a place where you feel financially stable enough with your random brand payments that you’re not thinking about how you’ll pay your phone bill for 82% of your waking life. So you push yourself to get ahead, and in doing so you put yourself, and your work, first.
But y’know what? I’m not sure I’m in that place anymore. I want to be motivated and inspired, but I want to be motivated and inspired and excited about words and content and not about the freebies.
I am forever grateful for every opportunity that blogging and working as a journalist has brought me, but I am even more grateful for everything else outside of work that life has given me – my home and my cats and my friends and my boyfriend.
Those are the things that give me the greatest pleasure in life.
And so going forward, I think I’m going to mix up my priorities a little. I’m going to put home first. My home with my little cat babies and my boyfriend.
And I am going to focus on the things that make me feel good, the things that make other people feel good, and not just the things that make my Instagram look good, y’know?
It can be so easy in this industry to get caught up in trying to look like you’re nailing it and living bascs the same life as Beyonce, that you forget to just stop and actually live, actually appreciate your offline life and everything you have right in front of you.
So yes there’ll still be lots of travel, but lots of the right travel. Travel with people who get me excited about creating memories and stories I’ll still be sharing in 2037.
Here’s to keeping your priorities in check and remembering that the greatest joys and happiness in life come from surrounding yourself with your favourite people, even if you’re doing it on your hand-me-down-sofa with cheap frozen pizza from Tesco and half price ice cream, when it seems like the rest of the world is busy lazing by an infinity pool…