Hi, I’m Anto and I’m a workaholic. Nice to meet you!
It’s a Monday evening and I just got back home from my evening walk. Now that we bumped the clock forward one hour a couple of weeks ago, I squeezed this into my routine, at least when I’m home. Immediately after dinner, before I get the chance to boot up my laptop, I take a 30 minute walk or run along the banks of the river we live close to. As I was heading against the wind and the last rays of sunshine of the day were shining in my face, I became a little emotional. Call it PMS or call it a reality check. After spending another weekend on the couch because of a sore back and shoulder, I hated me for being so stupid and not having listened to my body before. Here’s why:
Exactly one year ago I went to see a doctor because I had an ongoing pain in my left wrist. It turned out to be an inflammation which would only be solved by rest. Of course I didn’t really take a rest because my blog was starting to grow and there was just no way that I was actually going to take it easy. Hard work pays off, right?
A couple of weeks later I had to call in sick at work for the first time in years. I’d caught a cold that had slowly turned into a bronchitis. It wasn’t much of a surprise because the majority of my co-workers had already been sick the weeks before so it was about my turn, however I usually I would be the one to skip it because normally, I had excellent health. I recovered but it took quite some time before I was entirely up and running again. In the meanwhile, my wrist was still sore as well…
I happily continued travelling, blogging and doing my office job but at the same time, I felt incredibly restless. In the middle of the night I would wake up with a pounding heart, checking my phone for messages and making notes for things I should not forget to do the next day. I easily spent one hour awake in the middle of the night, worrying about how I was going to finish that one article in time (before the deadline I created myself!) and how I was going to promote it.
Then I went to Sweden and I got bitten by a tick. Not something life threatening but not something fun either. As a precaution, my doctor prescribed me antibiotics. Normally it’s something that my body should be able to handle but this time, I felt extremely weak and the meds got to me. However, I still had to deliver some articles so I kept on working like a maniac. Some things just have to be done, right?
As I was in the middle of preparing for my work-trip to Alaska, I was super stressed, since over there I wouldn’t have internet all the time and I’d have no time to write blogs at all. I tried to prepare some pre-written blogs and in the meanwhile keep everything else running as well. I’d fly to Iceland on Friday and onto Alaska on Sunday. However, the Monday before disaster struck. As I was cycling home from the office after another busy day, I had a bicycle accident. Immediately when I hit the ground, I knew something was wrong and this wasn’t just a fall. I dragged myself home and upon arrival there, it was clear that my ankle was not OK. I ended up spending all night in the hospital (they had a busy night and my case wasn’t urgent), begging for my ankle not to be broken, as that would mean the end of my Alaska plans. However, I kept on thinking that if someone up there decided that my ankle would be broken, it would be my own mistake, I should have been more careful…
As it turned out, my ankle wasn’t broken but severely bruised. I would be able to go to Alaska but I would not be able to do all the hikes I planned nor go ice climbing. As much as I wanted to cry and feel sorry for myself, I couldn’t because I knew this was all my own mistake. If only I’d been more careful, kept my eyes on the road and would have been less stressful, this would not have happened. I spent the whole week on heavy meds to kill the pain and eventually I went to Iceland and onwards to Alaska. In Iceland I spent my time with my friend Birna who took excellent care of me. As the plane was taking off for Anchorage and I was listening to Eddie Vedder’s tunes from Into the Wild, tears finally started streaming down my face. From the pain but also from happiness, because I finally was on the way back to the place where I lost my heart many years ago.
If you know me or have seen my pics of that trip, you know that, despite the warnings of my doctor, I still went ice climbing and hiking. In the meanwhile, I was stuffing myself with painkillers and pretending to be fine.
When I got back home, I figured that taking it easy for a couple of weeks would do the trick, but by early September I realized I had just 2 more months to go until Nepal and I still wasn’t able to walk normally and without pain. So I went to seek treatment from a physiotherapist, who basically had to learn me how to walk again. Very frustrating, especially for someone who is always outdoors. However I followed her instructions carefully, did all the exercises she gave me and eventually, she released me and told me I’d be fine on my way to Everest Base Camp.
As my numbers kept on growing, I decided I wanted another design for we12travel. We spent hundreds of hours working on the current version of the site and on the release date, I worked until 03.00 am, even though I had to be at a trade show again at 09.00 am the next morning. I went there, worked and caught another virus that was going around. One day later and only one week before my trip to Nepal, I found myself in bed with a nasty bronchitis. On Wednesday I went to see the doctor who prescribed me a killer combination of Prednison and antibiotics. She ordered me to cancel all I had planned and rest until Nepal but of course I didn’t. I still had tickets for Foo Fighters and after Dave Grohl broke his leg 2 days before the festival was I supposed to see them for the first time, I did not want to give up those tickets. So I went to Foo Fighters and stood first row. Afterwards I was knackered (yet on an incredible high) and until Nepal, I did nothing anymore. Just before our departure to Nepal, I felt like me again and was ready to conquer the world and hike up to Everest Base Camp.
If you think this was it, forget it. Off to Nepal we went and on day 4 of our trek to Everest Base Camp, I ate something wrong and I got sick. I had extreme diarrhea and I had to drag myself across the trail. I took no less than 3 courses of antibiotics, prescribed by a mountain doctor I went to see and eventually, with the most effort I ever had to take, I reached Everest Base Camp. A huge victory!
I thought I had learned my lesson. I was always working and when I was travelling and supposed to be relaxing, I was working as well. Never did I take a moment to relax, just hang out on the couch. If I did, I felt guilty for not working on the blog. Whenever I disconnected from the internet, I blamed myself for a lower number of visitors that week. Crazy how that works, right? In the meanwhile, my body had to recover from all the meds I had been taking over the past couple of months.
I was sure that 2016 was going to be a better year. I had taken it very easy over the holidays, slept a lot and did fun things with family and friends, like you are supposed to. My body had recovered from all the meds I had taken over the past months and I was ready to kick ass again. Or at least, that’s what I thought. In Tasmania I got sick and spent a couple of days in bed, feeling hot and cold at the same time, with enormous headaches and stomach cramps. I suspect it was a heatstroke but it may as well have been my body protesting against all that happened over the past year and not accepting ‘a vacation’.
Just when I thought I’d really learned my lesson, my body gave another NO signal! When I was at the supermarket during Easter weekend, I suddenly had a sore muscle in my back, causing me to spend the last 3 weekends on the couch, not being able to do much more than laying down. I did a one-day hike and afterwards I couldn’t move anymore because of the pain in my shoulder from wearing a pack. I came to realize that this was not OK and I actually found myself crying more than once over the past few weeks because I was doing it again… I was killing my body for the sake of always working and never taking a moment to have a break or slow down.
Because of all the working, I haven’t been taking care of me. I lacked working out, just because I wanted to finish that one article. I lacked a healthy diet because I took too much energy drinks and alcohol, so drinking became just a habit and not something occasional. The one thing I didn’t lack was sleep though, a resolution I managed to keep ever since I made it on January 1st of this year.
After spending another weekend on the couch, I’ve had enough. No more working until midnight, no more excessive alcohol on weekdays (sorry if we have dinner or drinks scheduled soon!) and no more endless Facebook or Instagram sessions just clicking like for the sake of it. I’m over it and exiting the road to destruction. No matter what all the other bloggers say, working hard does pay off, but not working hard all the time, will pay off harder. What good is that ultimate blogtrip if I’m too tired to keep my eyes open and I’m stressed all the time because my numbers are not rising? What kind of friend am I if I don’t even find the time to catch up socializing anymore? What does we12travel mean at all if I have no one to share my success with as I scared everyone away by always working?
Enough is enough. I used to laugh it off when people said ‘maybe you should take it easy’ or when they warned me that I was asking too much of my body. But in reality, they were right and it should have been enough months ago. Maybe even a year ago already, when I first went to the doctor, I should have realized that I wasn’t going the right direction. I look forward to spring, enjoying time outside with friends, doing a ‘terrasje’ which is a typical Dutch thing but basically means you site outside in front of a bar and have a drink. I look forward to planning kick ass blog trips to some amazing destinations. But even more, I still enjoy writing stories and inspiring others to travel the active way, too.
Now that I’m re-reading this, I can’t help but laugh at myself for having been so blind and thinking that everything would go away if I just closed my eyes for it. I know for sure that I’m not the only blogger who is in the same position as me. We all want to write the best stories, make the best photos and have the most followers. We all want to get kick ass sponsorships, earn loads of money (ha!) and just be the best blogger there is. And that’s awesome, it makes us great ambassadors for tourism, a very vulnerable industry especially now with all these insane terrorism attacks going on.
I hope my message to you is clear. Working hard and being ambitious is fine, but know where to draw the line and don’t be afraid to take it easy. I’m finally on the right track again. I’ve picked up running for the first time since my ankle recovery and I even went to the gym again. (The irony is though, that it turned out there was no teacher that night for my planned spinning class.) I take long baths at 08.30 pm, to end up in bed at 10.00 pm and closing my eyes with comforting thought that everything will be fine tomorrow morning.
Hi, I’m Anto, and I used to be a workaholic. How about you?
Each Sunday I share a more personal story in the Sunday Social Travel Talk. Want to read more? You may enjoy these posts:
– 6 Things I stopped doing after 2 years as a travel blogger
– How Instagram ruined travel for me
– How to travel 107 days a year with a full time office job
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Thanks for sharing!
Hi, I’m Anto and I’m a workaholic. Nice to meet you!