It Was Time for a Time Out

by - 6:00 PM

'Envy, did you know that the people of Ancient Greece and Rome believed the gods assigned each human being a maximum number of words to use in their lifetime? You're burning through yours awfully quick,' my Latin teacher once said. It was his polite way of asking if I could please, for the love of the gods, shut my big mouth for once.
'Well,' I answered, 'I guess the gods blessed me with a tremendous amount of words, so I'm not worried.' And even though I don't believe in the likes of Zeus & co., I do believe that I was blessed with words. Lots of them. A steady flow of words passes my lips, but also the tip of my pen, every single day. I write journal entries, short stories and blog posts. But, as you might have noticed, it's been over a month since I posted on here. The words I used to use so carelessly completely stopped flowing onto the pages of my blogging notebooks. The gods of Ancient Greece and Rome and their word count had little to do with it. My office job all the more.

It wasn't until last week that I realized I had been living life on autopilot since March. That was the month I learned I was more or less redundant at work. Back in December, a computer took over about 40% of translation work within the company and by the time I came home from Cuba, it was clear that we wouldn't have much to do most days. Instead of translating product descriptions like I was supposed to, I got to write articles to improve our visibility on Google. All of a sudden I was an "SEO expert". I work for a company that sells clothes, so I had to write about fashion for days on end. I hated it. There's a reason I'm not a fashion blogger. Being forced to write 2000 words on topics I couldn't care less about, like shapewear and men's moccasins, stumped my creativity. At the end of each day, I'd feel numb. Completely drained from all energy, motivation and inspiration. When I went to Amsterdam and didn't feel the urge to write a single post on that trip, it started to dawn on me that I maybe needed a break from writing for my blog.

I did not take a break from blogging. I pushed through because I enjoyed writing. Back then, I really did. But once again, my job interfered. Remember the whole SEO thing? Well, every now and then I got a break from writing SEO stuff so I could translate a blog post for the company's website. I loved doing those, until my boss read my translations and roasted the living daylight out of my translation and writing skills.
'There's no flow in this blog post,' she'd say. 'Would you really say something like this? Use those words? Try bringing the message across in your own words.'
Then, when I did bring said message across in my own words, she'd ask me again and again if I'd really phrase things the way I did.
'If I wouldn't say something like that, I wouldn't use that sentence in my translation, would I?' I told my boss at one point. She looked me in the eye and concluded that I lack a certain something when it comes to writing blog posts. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when something broke deep down inside me. My words didn't completely stop flowing though, oh no. They came in short, angry bursts, and all of them were hideous. My sentences were incoherent strings of syllables, my posts nothing more than an ugly mess. I couldn't look at my own writing without being ashamed of how utterly talentless I was. It was halfway through May when I stopped writing. It was time for a serious time out.

I started out doing nothing with the extra time I suddenly had on my hands. Then, out of the blue, I started doing all the things I had been putting of for months. So even when I felt like my break had been long enough and my battered ego had recovered enough to allow me to pick up a pen, I was too busy to sit down and write a blog post. Even when I wasn't physically busy, my mind was occupied. I'm still in a dispute with my former college, which is exhausting. I called the government institute dealing with my student loans and was told that I don't owe them any money. I went to Utrecht University and decided to go back to school in August to study English. A few days later, I handed my notice in at work. I was busy, happy and also afraid to write again. So I didn't. I made some notes in my journal, but that was all. I decided to live in the real world for a while. The internet is fun, but I'd booked a trip to Israel and Jordan, and since my writing was awful anyway, I decided to leave the blog for what it was.

Last Sunday, my plane from Jordan's capital Amman landed at Schiphol International Airport. The only thing I'd written in all twelve days of the trip were journal entries, but at some point in the Jordanian desert, I'd felt it again: the rush in my head, the quickening of thoughts that tells me that it's time to write. Back home, I put pen to the paper of my blogging notebook for the first time in over a month.

Right now, I'm still not confidently writing any of my blog posts, but my time away did help me recover. Thanks to my boss, I will feel like my posts suck for a long time though. At least my break gave me the time to live a little, and the best stories are born that way. And you know me: I can't help but share my stories. Which is exactly what I'll try to do again, no matter how worthless others might find them.

x Envy

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8 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Honestly I love your writing, and I feel you communicate so well what you mean. Your travel blogs make me feel like I'm there, experiencing it. Your street art posts have me LOOKING and seeing what I didn't before.
    I'm glad you're starting to get your mojo back, but take all the time you need to get your confidence back up. Bad bosses suck.
    Cora |

    1. I always appreciate your comments and support so much! Honestly, without you I probably would have given up quite some time ago. I am so glad you enjoy my posts as if you're there with me and that you actually see and register street art after reading my blog!
      In about a month I'll be done working and I'm counting down the days. I can't wait, the job seriously affects my creativity in an awful way.

  2. Your story gave me flashbacks to writing my thesis and being told again and again how horrible my writing was, even being questioned whether I was able to speak my own native language WHILE for all those years leading up to that stupid thesis I've been a -not to brag- above average student and never had a problem with language before. I think I've literally cried every day for almost a year as their comments were so heartbreaking, making me question EVERYTHING I did, feel VERY stupid for even trying and making me neglect anything that made me somewhat smile (like my blog, but that's on the backburner 24/7 anyways). In the end I've ushered through and got a decent grade and am now happily working towards a master's degree. But I still hear their commentary in my head and it still cuts like a sharp knife through any confidence I've build up. But at least my master is in English so whatever. ;)

    BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME. I'm very sorry someone has broken your blog-writing spirit in such a way and I can only wish you will soon feel confident and comfortable again with your voice/words. (If it's of any consolation, I've made being bad at blogging my trademark and I can honestly say that every time I read a blogpost of yours I find them always very fun, well-structured and inviting to keep reading further...).


    1. It's awful to hear stories like yours. Writing style is such a subjective thing, even when it's for a thesis. I feel like people often get shut down or receive negative comments on their writing just because a higher-up doesn't like their writing style.

      I love your huge comments and I'm so glad to hear you enjoy my blog posts!

  3. Your intro was SO nice and it really grabbed my attention. Definitely don't think you're out of words, hope you find your voice again soon!

    1. Thank you! I've found my voice, now I just need to find some time!

  4. Ugh, I'm sorry to hear that the job also killed your creative vibes. Remember how we talked about professional writing and how my mom wanted me to be a journalist? Yeah, that's why I didn't. As you know I may be your biggest fan and I LOVE your writing. The reason I keep on coming back to your blog is because your style is authentic.
    I know that you will get inspired to write your voice out once again. Not to worry.
    Keep baking those cookies and trying out new experiences. I'll be here waiting for the next post you do ^^

    1. I remember our conversation! It was so good to talk about that. Some days the only thing that keeps me going is having people like you around, who care enough to call themselves a fan <3
      A lot can change in a few weeks time, and university has given me both my motivation and inspiration back!


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