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New Beginnings

Hello, and Happy New Year! Remember me? I know it’s been forever– or to be more precise, it’s been nearly one and a half years since my last blog post. But I’m still here, still wandering around the world and all that. I’m sorry for the long absence, but I really just needed some time to myself.

I won’t go into details here, but the past year and a half was a bit rough for me personally, and I was feeling pretty down for a while. I felt a bit depressed, and like I had lost my sense of purpose. I was working online and traveling around the world, supposedly living the dream, but I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it. Traveling and exploring new places no longer seemed to thrill me like it once had, but I kept doing it for a while simply because I didn’t know what else to do with myself.

I thought a few times about updating this blog, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. I also didn’t want to just post something on a whim only to disappear again for several months. If I was going to do it, I wanted to really commit to it… But then I thought, why? What would be the point?

Although I’ve been writing this blog since 2011, I never really had a clear purpose for it. At first I vaguely thought I might eventually be able to turn it into a source of income, but that never happened and I’m not sure if it ever will. I’m not opposed to people turning their blogs into businesses, but it’s not something I feel particularly motivated to do, especially now that I’ve comfortably supporting myself through freelance translation work for a while, and I’m happy with that. I’ve never really had the strong desire to make more money than I need.

Later I tried to tell myself that the purpose of the blog was to inspire people, but that wasn’t quite motivating enough either. I wish I could say I’m noble enough to be motivated by the desire to inspire people, but I’m afraid I’m a little more selfish than that. Quite honestly, the idea that I might possibly inspire someone is just not enough of a reason for me to do all the work that goes into maintaining and promoting a blog on a regular basis. I had to admit that to myself.

Why should I do it, then? For a while I couldn’t find a good reason, and seriously considered just shutting my website down for good. I wasn’t sure though, so I just let it sit and forgot about it for a while.

In the meantime, I decided to unpack my suitcase and move to Seattle in March 2017. I was feeling jaded and confused and exhausted, and in serious need of a break– from blogging, from traveling, from people, from everything really. I rented a tiny studio apartment and stayed there most of the time reveling in the quiet and solitude, free from all obligations except paying my rent each month like a perfectly average, boring person. I spent a lot of time just sitting there, thinking. What was I doing with my life, and why? What did I really want? What would make me happy?

At first I almost felt a little guilty for isolating myself so much, like this wasn’t something human beings were supposed to do, but after a while I realized the isolation was helping, and I needed it. Gradually I felt my heart starting to heal, my curiosity about the world and enthusiasm for life starting to return. Then a quiet understanding started to grow in me.

Although I’ve never regretted living a nomadic lifestyle and I feel really fortunate to be able to do it, it is also true that it can sometimes be lonely, especially considering that I’m an introvert who doesn’t always do a good job of staying in touch with friends or reaching out to interesting new people. As ironic as this may sound, I think I needed that time of isolation to cure myself of the loneliness that had accumulated over the years. I needed to get back in touch with myself, to remember that I could be happy all alone, even just sitting in a room doing nothing more than enjoying the sunlight streaming through a window.

Once I was able to do that, I found myself wanting to connect with the outside world again. I was going to be leaving Seattle soon and didn’t have much time, but I wanted to interact with people. I hadn’t really made any friends in the city, so I went out and tried to find some. I actually succeeded too. I was reminded of something I had learned long ago on my travels, but too often forgotten: It doesn’t take that long to make a friend, and it’s always worth it, even if you think you’ll never see them again.

So although I am an introvert, and although I will probably always have times when I need to step back and be alone, I will also always need people. I need to be alone to reflect on things, but I also need to connect with people for inspiration and mental stimulation and encouragement. It’s sometimes hard to do, but a nomadic lifestyle does not preclude a social life, especially if one takes measures to help it happen organically. And one thing I know can help with that is blogging.

Even though I’ve never posted regularly or grown a very large audience, I’ve been surprised on several occasions when people at language learning events have approached me because they’d read my blog. I didn’t have to take the initiative to start these interactions, and we even already had things to talk about. That sure made things a lot easier for this introvert. When I volunteered to give presentations at some of these events, even more people wanted to talk to me. That was when I really started to think, “Hmm. This might really be worthwhile.”

And so I think I have finally found a truly motivating reason for me to continue blogging, as well as the energy and enthusiasm required to actually follow through and post something. It took me a year and a half, but I think I’ve found it. The main reason I want to continue blogging is because it’s a way to stay connected with people, and to continue making new connections. It’s also a way to share any thoughts, knowledge, and experiences I have that might benefit others. It’s a way to ensure that I’m never alone, wherever I may go.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to make any promises about regular posting, because you know me– I don’t do public commitments, and I’m kind of allergic to schedules. But I feel like my heart is in the right place now, and maybe this thing will actually go somewhere. If you’d like to find out, you’re welcome to follow along.

Happy 2018! Here’s to new beginnings. 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Philip Newton

    Happy 2018, Jana!

    I think one of the things you have accomplished with your blog in the past talking about yourself is to make some other people go, “Oh right, I feel like that as well sometimes! I’m not alone in the world!”.

    I felt I got to know you at least a little through your blog entries and through our brief encounters at meetups, and it’s always nice to hear from you again.

    All the best to you!

    Philip

    • Yes, and that’s something blogging has taught me too– that no matter how unusual I think my feelings or experiences are, there’s always someone (and usually multiple people) who can relate. We’re never alone. 🙂

      Thanks for always reading my posts! It’s been nice getting to know you a little too, and I hope to see you at the next polyglot event!

      • Philip Newton

        I probably won’t be able to make it this year, but perhaps again in 2019!

        I’d love to see you again as well!

        • Oh too bad! But yeah, there is always next time. 🙂

  • Elena Nikiforova Faleschini

    Happy 2018! It’s so good to hear from you! It’s sad to know you were depressed. I think I could feel that from your last posts. I know how it is. And I can totally relate to “just sitting in a room doing nothing more than enjoying the sunlight streaming through a window” (that’s what I mostly do besides sleeping 🙂 ) But I’m so glad you are better now!!! And I’m curious to read about your new adventures!

    • Thank you! Yeah it sucks to be depressed but it’s something most people go through once in a while. But I am much better now. 🙂 And although my experiences haven’t been all great, I feel like I’ve learned from them.

  • BN

    Your blogs have so much value, whether it’s particularly tangible or not. I think that’s something introverts don’t always realize; is how meaningful even a tiny bit of interaction is. Happy to read your words again!

    • Thanks for the kind words! Interaction has always been meaningful to me, but I think it’s become more so over the years.

  • Glad you’re back!

  • Siegfried Krause

    I just thought about you after more than 2 years and wondered if you had anything useful to teach about language learning in the meantime. I had been really impressed seeing you speak German virtually error free after such a short time; actually I had never observed something like it first hand. So I’m really interested in your method, and I suspect you could be really helpful to a lot of us.

    Regarding nomadic life and depression: I can relate, especially about “living the dream” and not feeling it. After almost 5 years of nomadic life, I was finally forced to settle down for health reasons (RSI). I would certainly have continued if I could. Only now that I’m starting to physically and emotionally heal, I noticed how much of a burden the whole traveling thing has been. Now, I’m certainly not going to stay in one place forever, but it made me think a lot. Essentially, traveling around just for the heck of it has been foolish (in both the negative and positive sense). It’s time to figure out where I belong, and grow some roots. Not necessarily in one place, but connecting with the world on a deeper level.

    • Thank you! But when did you hear me speak German? I’m really sorry I can’t remember, but did we meet at a conference or something…? Anyway… I could perhaps share a bit about how I learned German if that’s something people are interested in. Thanks for the input!

      Yeah… Just traveling without a purpose can be a very empty thing. It’s even worse doing it while depressed. But now that I’m feeling better, I’m finding fulfillment in travel again, probably because I actually feel like talking to people and therefore don’t feel as lonely. I guess it’s all about your state of mind, and just being honest with yourself about what you need at the time.

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

      • Siegfried Krause

        We had a brief exchange/tandem on Facebook in 2015. Not that it matters. I think you might do well in the polyglot/language learning crowd on Youtube, if that’s something you’re interested in. 🙂

        • Oh, that’s right! I remember now. 🙂 I’m really sorry; I’m just not good at remembering names. I did post a few videos on Youtube a long time ago, but filming videos isn’t really my thing… I just feel too awkward talking to a camera! Maybe I will try it out again someday though, who knows.

          • Andy Swan

            “filming videos isn’t really my thing” – I’m sorry but I have to disagree with you on that. I’ve been literally stunned by you speaking Russian from the roof a while ago. Unfortunately, you’ve deleted that video, but it was gorgeous never the less.

  • Philip Ries

    Thank you for posting with an open heart about personal things that carry a stigma these days. I feel like I understand myself just that little bit better when I see real perspective on something like my own issues and differences. (Knowing the self sometimes reminds me of languages: the more you learn, the more you realize there is to figure out.)

    It was great to meet you at the library’s Spanish Circle last year.

    • Thank you for the nice comment! I’m glad if I was able to help you in some way.

      I remember meeting you at the Spanish circle. I was really surprised to randomly come across someone who had read my blog!

  • Irina Lytvak

    Jana I am happy you’re back! I’ve been a silent reader of your blog for years. As an introvert and a language enthusiast myself, just wanted to tell you that there are people that appreciate you (although as a silent audience!)

    • Hello and thank you for commenting! It’s always good to hear people appreciate me. 🙂

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