10 challenges I had to overcome in 2017 and lessons learned
Year 2017 was quite a challenging year for me. Maybe it did not look like that on social media because I still found loads of beautiful photos from my trips to post. However, visiting breath-taking destinations does not mean that it has to be easy. And last year was anything but easy for me. Why? Find out about the challenges I had to overcome in 2017 below.
If I think about it now, 2017 was the third most challenging year out of 33 that I’ve been living in my current body.
The first one was definitely 2006 when my younger brother commited suicide, and 2 months later I broke up with my boyfriend after a year and a half as he didn’t understand why I was sad because of my brother’s death. And in the end of 2006 I also found out my parents were getting divorced. That was the most difficult year for me whatsoever. No doubt.
Then the second most challenging one was 2011 when my mum’s brother, my 39-year old uncle died of cancer when I was in Philippines. He felt like a brother to me as well as there was just a 12 year difference between us. In the same year 2011 I did my first solo trip to Asia. Culture shock, dealing with uncle’s death while away from my family, flood in Thailand and Cambodia and most of all having to rely on myself only was a big challenge.
And finally 2017… another year that tried my patience and positive vibes again…
10 challenges I had to overcome in 2017
1. Traveling with others
One of the biggest challenges in 2017 was spending very little time on my own. Most of the trips I did were with other people, be it family members, friends or other bloggers (on press trips). And although I loved most of the people I traveled with, I am used to traveling solo. In 2017 I spent approx. 5 weeks traveling with my dad in Thailand, Malaysia and Slovakia, then almost 4 weeks traveling with one of my best friends in Thailand, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Serbia, and many weeks with other bloggers in Israel, Romania, Iceland etc. Some of those bloggers I’ve known for years, others I met for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong; in a way it’s easier to travel with other people. You don’t have to count on yourself only, you can talk about the choices you have and it can also feel safer.
But on the other hand, it’s also more difficult because you have to compromise a lot. I work online while traveling so I need time to work and with other people it is not always easy to find time without anyone disturbing me and wanting me to do things with them.
I am an introvert so the best way to recharge my batteries is to be on my own.
And my healthy lifestyle with yoga, vegan food, occasional detox, no alcohol and no chemicals doesn’t make it any easier either when on trips with others.
Traveling with others gave me less time to dedicate to both my personal things and work things, so in the end of the year I was anything but balanced.
1. Lesson learned: No matter how much I love spending time with people I like, I also need time alone to be happy. At least 50/50, if not more time alone.
2. Grandma died
When I was traveling in Thailand with my dad, his mum, my grandma died back home in Slovakia. In a way it was shocking to wake up to those news after a few days on the trip. But we were scared it would happen when we were leaving so we had gone to say goodbye to her. There was no way we could make it from Koh Tao back home for the funeral so we decided to continue with the trip as planned for another 5 weeks.
It’s painful when someone you know dies. And when it’s a family member, it’s even more heart-breaking. So imagine that it was my dad’s mum who he was never going to meet again. And my dad is a huge introvert not speaking about his feelings almost at all so I didn’t know how to behave either. It’s difficult to know if you should let others deal with their own pain or to offer them help. What feels the best for you does not have to be the best for them, too. I did not want to cry in front of him to make him even more sad so we kind of spent a few days mostly in silence.
To say the truth, it would have been more difficult for both of us if we were at home for her funeral. Traveling and doing new things make you focus more on the NOW… It doesn’t make you forget though…
2. Lesson learned: Always say goodbye to those you love before you leave on a trip. I’ve left on 3 trips in the past and when I went back home, 3 of my family members were in heaven already :/
3. Arguments with best friends
I can tell you that I have 4 best friends: 2 are girls and 2 are guys. All of them have been my best friends from 4 to 11 years. With 3 of them I have not argued at all, not even once in all those years. With the forth one we argued a few times in the beginning when he wanted to date me but I didn’t. Until we both realized staying good friends was a better idea, we would argue a lot. But that was like 11 years ago. And what happened in 2017? I had an argument with all 4 of them (not at the same time, of course).
First, I have to say that I had less time for them than I usually do, and I was also less balanced than usual.
Those 2 things caused that when my friends behaved in a way I really thought they should have not, I said it to them straight away. I am always very punctual, always the one who chooses my best friends over my personal needs and always the one who adapts to their time. However, I’m usually busier than them, very rarely it’s them adapting to me. Which is not fair and in 2017 it got to that point that I said ”enough is enough”. Plus, one of those best friends told me something I would never expect anyone saying to an enemy, and even less to a BFF so I was really in a shock.
Anyway… why should we tolerate some things to our best friends if we don’t tolerate them when strangers do them to us? Shouldn’t best friends treat you the best way they can? Maybe I am just still too naive but time is the most precious thing we all have and not appreciating time of our best friends, making them to change plans million times because of them is NOT fair and not the way it should be… My humble opinion :/
I still love all 4 of my best friends …but maybe 1% less now :D Two of them have never even said sorry and keep doing what we argued about so they obviously learned nothing from it.
3. Lesson learned: If my best friend is doing something I am really against, I will tell them. I’ve spent way too many years with my mouth shut and it feels just ”fair” to tell them directly if I disagree with their behaviour.
4. Less meditations and less yoga
Mostly because I traveled so much with other people, my meditation and yoga habits slowly disappeared. They went from (almost) daily to ”if I get time” which I didn’t get that often. If you are sharing a room with someone who is used to talking and more talking since they wake up, it’s difficult to find a place/time for morning meditation, especially if you have a tour starting shortly.
My ideal morning is an hour spent on my own, meditation, drinking water/tea, walking barefoot, reading positive affirmations… just peace and quiet to sort out my thoughts and get balanced for everything that is awaiting me for the rest of the day. But ideal mornings were hardly ever possible in 2017 when I was on the road.
I still tried to meditate as much as possible, at least during the day, if not in the morning but on some days it was simply impossible. Same with yoga. When I am at home, I do 6 to 10 hours of yoga per week easily. Sometimes even more. But on the road with others? There was time when I did less yoga per month than I usually do per week. It was really frustating to lose all the flexibility and strength I was working on for over 5 years of yoga practice. Because yes, you do lose a lot of it very quickly, even after just a few days. And then it feels like starting over again and kind of losing a few years of practice. Where’s a dislike button :(
Less meditation and less yoga made me feel not only physically worse, but also mentally. I just felt I was losing my true self and I was not happy with the energy around me…
4. Lesson learned: I am not balanced, centered, calm and happy if I don’t do enough yoga and meditation.
5. More food
All those press trips where we spent half a day eating didn’t help when I was not doing much yoga. I do understand it… The press trip organizers always wanted to impress us and you know how easy it is with food. Love goes through your stomach, remember? Another thing is, that on the road sometimes you don’t have any idea what comes the following day so you better eat everything you see, right? Just in case :D
I mean I was still eating vegan meals, but a lot more of cooked meals, and also some desserts. However, usually I am mostly raw vegan and try to avoid desserts. Press trips, and also traveling with other people who do not follow my strict simple vegan diet, made me eat less healthy, and eat more overall. I mean I just put on a kilogram or two within a few months and then always did a detox once I got back home.
5. Lesson learned: Sometimes less is more. Especially when it comes to (over)eating.
6. Lost and damaged luggage and delayed flights
I can’t believe how lucky I was until 2017! So many years on the road without a damaged or lost suitcase! My suitcase got damaged for the first time in November 2017. I was coming back home from Iceland and they completely destroyed my suitcase at the Prague airport. Well, I got it with broken wheels. But because I had 2 meetings and a night train planned just after landing, I did not find time to deal with the damaged baggage. My bad. I threw the suitcase to garbage once I got home and lost 100 euros I bought it for.
But then a month later my destiny/Universe whatever you call it, decided to teach me what I hadn’t learned before. My flight to Rodrigues was delayed for approx. 10 hours which I spent frozen at the Charles de Gaulle airport. We just got some free food, that’s it. Then my suitcase was lost on the very same delayed flight. I had to wait for it for 23 hours. I barely had anything with me for those 23 hours, but my phone and camera, a toothbrush and clothes I was wearing for three days already. And then on the way back home the airline/airport lost my suitcase again and I received it 26 hours later.
But I learned that I should bring ALL the necessary things I might need for a day with me in my hand baggage. I also learned I should find time to deal with those problems. If I didn’t, I was losing MY money. I know my rights. I was supposed to get compensation for both the lost bags, and the delayed flight. So I kept all the documents and contacted the airlines to get what I deserved as a passenger.
6. Lesson learned: Something positive always comes out of something negative. After a month of waiting, I recevied 683 euros for the delayed flight and the lost suitcases. Yay!
TIP: Don’t know much about Rodrigues? You are not the only one. Here you can read about interesting things about Rodrigues island :)
7. Problems with a guy
When I was staying at Retrome in Barcelona in summer, something very funny happened to me. I was lying on the San Sebastian beach on my own, wanting to enjoy my last day in my favorite city. Alone. I was alone and I seriously needed my “me” time to recharge my batteries. All I wanted to do on my last day there was to enjoy the beach, read, swim in the sea and get some sunbeams. And then go to La Boqueria market to get some fresh fruit and back to the beach. Alone. Not talking to anyone. Not checking work emails. Not checking Facebook messages.
But I decided to post an Instagram story and then checked stories of a good friend. But then my phone got frozen on a following story of a Czech guy and his story was a photo of Sagrada Familia. Although as an introvert, I planned a day on my own to recharge my batteries, my intuition was strongly suggesting me to send him a message I was in Barcelona, too. He just arrived with a friend and they had no idea what to do in Barcelona. My favorite city. City I’ve been to more than 20 times. City I almost knew by heart already. So I agreed on picking them up and showing them around.
When we met, I was in a shock. Well, both of the guys were super cool and we had a lot of laugh. But each time the 2nd guy opened his mouth, I could not stop staring. Everything he talked about felt so familiar to me. It turned out we had so many things in common… I seriously couldn’t believe it. And when we got to yoga and vegan food, I was even more stoked. Surprised. Positively. I swear I’ve never met a guy in person who had so, I mean SO many things in common with me than he did. We only spent 12 hours together but I still don’t understand why we met. Although all I wanted to do that day was to be on my own, to have my peace and quiet while getting some tan, my intuition was saying something different.
After our meeting we both realized we had million things in common and were chatting hundred times a day for a couple of weeks. We even spent another day together later in Bratislava. I was sure he was MY soulmate. And he seemed to feel the same. I really thought I found THE guy. I never really felt the same about any of my previous boyfriends. And he was not even my boyfriend yet. But before things got serious, there was a weird situation when he really put me down and I was so unhappy about it that we kind of stopped talking.
Although I’ve tried many times to solve things and clear the negative energy between us, he didn’t let me. I’ve tried to explained to him that until we clear that energy and forgive each other, we cannot move on and a similar thing would happen to us… well…but it’s about 2 people, not just me…
7. Lesson learned: Never waste time with someone who is not willing to waste his with you.
8. Online changes
So many things have changed in the online world in 2017, and all to worse. As I work online, it was very demotivating to keep adapting to all those changes. I lost a lof of readers, fans and followers not because they wouldn’t enjoy my content any more, but because Google, Facebook, Instagram etc. are complicating it all for us, online influencers, just so they can make more money on us. I will never be ok with that. SO unfair!
I’ve also sold less ebooks because Facebook just don’t show the information I share about them almost at all any more. This is the only thing I HATE about making a living online. So many things change so quickly that once you finally adapt to a change, a new one comes. If it was changing to better, I wouldn’t mind at all. But it’s going downhill :/
8. Lesson learned: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That basket (in this case a social media channel or Google rules) might change and you are in trouble.
TIP: I’ve published 5 ebooks about cheaper traveling, blogging, raw vegan diet and my adventures on the road if you’d like to check them out. One is in English and 4 in my mother tongue Slovak.
9. Less wifi time
In 2017 I spent maybe 3 or 4 months with very little internet connection, sometimes even no wifi whatsoever. On one hand it meant I should take that time to relax, but on the other that I should go on less press trips. And I’d better plan more of my time myself. I kind of know already how much time I need online to be happy with my work. But when others are planning my trips, they do not realize how important wifi is for a digital nomad like me. There were weeks when I had super slow wifi I could barely post a Facebook status. Forget about posting an Instagram photo, a video or a blog post. I ended up being late with deadlines and keeping my word later than I’d like to. If I’m not on time, I get stressed. I’m also a workaholic. So imagine how stressful 2017 felt to me. Just before Christmas I was so nervous for being 3 months behind with work, I burst out in tears one afternoon. And logically, as a side effect, I also earned less than I wanted to.
9. Lesson learned: I need money to live which means I need to find wifi to work. Everything is about priorities, of course. If I know I’m not earning as much as I’d like to, I work more.
10. Less sleep
In 2017 I took less time to relax and to sleep than I usually do. I am not a big sleeper and one of the main reasons I started with this travel blog in the first place was insomnia back in 2010. But since I’ve changed my diet to mostly raw vegan in 2013, I am able to sleep like a normal person.
When at home I try to stay in bed for 8 or even 9 hours per day. Because then when I travel, sometimes it’s just 4 hours of sleep or even less. I think I slept 5 or maximum 6 hours on average in 2017 when on the road. And when you have rough days with loads of activities, that’s not enough.
10. Lesson learned: Sleep is important to lead a healthy life. That’s an easy lesson we all know already :D I just sometimes need to remind it to myself.
All the above things put me completely out of balance. In the end of 2017 when I got back home to Slovakia I was a wreck of nerves who didn’t want to see anyone. All I wanted before Christmas was to go to a deserted island and be alone. No wifi, no family, no friends, no unhealthy food being served to me, no work, no deadlines, no emails, no writing, no new rules that were making my life worse… Let me tell you… I was so close to a mental breakdown just before Christmas 2017, you have no idea! All that Christmas rush when people were going crazy buying gifts no one actually needs was not helpful either.
But I knew I was the only one who could change the situation. No one but me. I switched off internet and phone for almost 2 days. I sat down for long meditations letting tears strolling down my cheeks. I did not write a blog post for 3 weeks. I started doing more yoga again. And I did a 16-hour intermittent fasting for 16 days in a row. I also cleaned my wardrobe and threw away unnecessary stuff. I simply did everything I could to find my balance again. And I can proudly say my balanced self is back :)