The above photo was taken at the very beginning of 2018. I didn’t know it yet, but everything I imagined my year would be like was going to be flipped upside down.
My hair was darker & shorter, there was a tiny gap between my two front teeth from neglecting to wear my retainer, and I was dating an amateur photographer who snapped the above shot & felt the need to airbrush my less-than-perfect skin before sending it to me (please see #6 in my Dudes and Don’ts post, haha).
I was content with life in general, but I knew I was simply just going through the motions.
If you know anything about me, you know that I’m obsessed with traveling and seeing as much of the world as I possibly can. At the start of this year, I was working a full time job and my only travel plans for the year were a week in Maui for my mom’s birthday in March and a weekend trip to California for Coachella in April with my cousin. I figured, after April, I’d maybe get some time off for Christmas, and that would be it. Another year of working a 9-5, doing the same thing everyday, and basically having a repeat year of 2017.
It was around early May when I started to get really depressed about my situation. I loved my company and the people I worked with, but my actual job had shifted into doing less of the creative work I enjoyed and turned into more of just emailing influencers everyday (you won’t know how truly exhausting/frustrating this task is until you do it yourself 8 hours a day). I know at a startup we have to do things we didn’t sign up for and people have multiple roles at once, but the workload became so overwhelming that I wasn’t even hitting my goals. I was trying, I really was, but I was failing.
Once I realized I was unhappy, I started playing around with the idea of quitting myself and being done with it; I would go around seeking others’ advice on the matter when really all I was searching for was someone to tell me, “Yes, do it! Quit! Stop living your day-to-day life in a constant state of stress and go find what makes you happy. Life is too short!“
But I stayed.
I stayed because I had recently renewed my apartment lease, and the rent needed to get paid. I stayed out of fear. I stayed for fear of disappointing my parents again. I stayed for fear of leaving my comfort zone. I stayed despite everything in the core of my being telling me to go.
And then something amazing happened at the halfway point of 2018.
They let me go.
Sure, at the time, I thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me. I cried and felt like the biggest failure. I was ashamed to tell my family. I was embarrassed to tell my friends.
I did what is a very typical “me” thing to do when faced with a life dilemma: I ran away to forget about my troubles for a short while. I flew to Colorado the next day (this was pre-planned, thankfully), and that following weekend I found myself at Electric Forest in Michigan (not pre-planned) to prolong dealing with my problems even further.
Truly, I should not have been at either of these places, but there I was, and I was finally happy again. The biggest weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I was beginning to feel like my old self.
Looking back now, I can see what happened was a huge blessing in disguise. I subconsciously wanted it to happen but was too scared to pull the trigger myself.
It was in Colorado that I realized everything was going to be okay, and it was in Electric Forest that I decided I would not repeat my same mistake of jumping into a new job that wasn’t for me. What I really wanted to do was leave Austin and go travel abroad, but because I already re-signed my apartment lease, had other plans the rest of the year and needed time to prepare, I knew I couldn’t just leave yet.
During this break, I planned to travel as much as I could. I went to Miami in July, Lollapalooza in Chicago and Banff National Park in August, Lost Lands festival in Ohio in September, Utah in October, and NYC in November. Each of these places I had someone let me stay with them free of charge, flights were paid for with saved up points, and I ate the cheapest meals possible everyday along with packing my own food.
People assume I must be rich to travel so much, but most people don’t know that I’m actually REALLY good at saving money.
“But Rachel? How did you make money the rest of the year?” The latter half of 2018 is when partnerships really picked up for my blog and Instagram for the first time. Before, I made barely anything from this platform of mine. I was doing triple the creative work for very little pay, and these were only one-off occurrences.
This is going to sound crazy, I know, but I truly believe the universe had my back this year… like it just knew I needed help because suddenly a bunch of brands were reaching out wanting to work with me to promote their products/services. Prior to July, I had zero paid collaborations. I even raised my prices to make ends meet (plus I found out I was charging way under what my influencer peers were asking for), and companies still obliged.
Back when I began my blog for fun back in 2011, I had no idea something like this was even possible. I am blown away at this ever-changing online culture we currently reside in, but it has helped me out in so many ways—not just financially, but with my career, my social life, and my personal real-life relationships.
I made enough money to pay my rent, support me AND my travels this year. I still can’t believe how lucky I am, and I don’t take any of it for granted. Who knows when this trend of “companies paying influencers on a social media platform to promote their stuff” will end?? It could even be in 2019… I hope not, but you never know.
With all that said, the first few months of 2018 are somewhat of a blur now, but then again, I think that’s normal. January & February always go by the quickest in the new year. All I remember is spending the first two months with the dude who took the first pic of this post, then in March having fun at SXSW & my trip to Maui with my parents, April was Coachella with my cousin, May I went to Tulum with friends and got lasik surgery, then June is where the shift of my year began for the better.
In June, I met new AMAZING people at Electric Forest who welcomed me into their festival family. I then got to spend one of the most fun weekends of my year with them again at Lost Lands in September, and I will be with them again at the beginning of 2019 for another festival (on a boat this time which will be a new one for me). They took me in when I had no one else, and we have already shared so many memories I will cherish for a lifetime.
I also met a BUNCH of new Austin bloggers and creatives this year, many of whom have only been blogging the last couple of years. Most of them are just as goofy as I am which was refreshing to see from outside of their Instagram feeds. I spent a lot of 2018 getting to know them, trying new Austin restaurants with them, and hanging out at local influencer events. The genuine ones were a huge support system for me this year and motivated me to work even harder on my platform, and I am forever inspired by them.
As far as the guys I met this year, I share most of those details in my previous dating post (which quickly became my most-read post of the year… people love tea, lol), but overall, I can’t complain. I dated around, had a couple crushes (is that ok to say even though I’m in my late twenties?), even got rejected by someone I really liked… but I also kept myself from getting too attached to anyone by walking away when the time was right thus saving myself the trouble of a painful heartache (unlike 2017). So, I’m ending 2018 feeling content with being by myself and entering 2019 with an open mind and an intact heart.
Alright, I’ll start to wrap this up.
When all is said and done and I look back on this year, I can see that 2018 was extremely good to me.
I experienced beautiful places I’ll never forget, I went on eleven out-of-state trips including to two new countries, seven national parks, and four new music festivals, I went outside my comfort zone, went camping in a tent for the first (and second) time, tried new things, was asked to be on TV, had great conversations, got lasik (!!), made new friends, went on lots of hikes, spent quality time with my old friends & family, made time for rest, took care of my health, practiced generosity, got to be my own boss, completed my personal goals, and lived my life for ME and no one else.
The girl in the first photo is not the same girl she is now; she’s a little stronger, wiser, braver, and puts up with a little less 💩 (including letting men photoshop her face to look prettier).
2018 will be remembered as the year that something I convinced myself was good for me fell apart so that so many better things could come together.
If you were apart of my year, even in the smallest way, thank you.
I have high hopes for 2019.
Peace out, 2018! Thanks for everything.