[All photos in this post where taken by Huong Nguyen of Heartlab Co.]
I wish I could write that my third year of running Follow My Gut was just as exciting as the first, but I’d be lying to you. I would want nothing more than to wake up on this December 21 saying that Follow My Gut grew exponentially in comparison to the first and second year, but that wouldn’t be true. Instead, the truth is that the third year, 2017, has been my most difficult. Not because things didn’t go right with the blog, but because everything went wrong in my personal life.
Since the start of the year, I’ve had a few great moments. I had the opportunity to speak about blogging at the Microsoft headquarters, explored more restaurants, and made more money than the year before. However, while things were going well for my website, it was ultimately the most challenging year for me as an individual. I was laid off at the start of the year, my depression kicked in faster than I expected, my suicidal thoughts came back stronger than the last time, my savings account was depleted, family relationships were strained, and I couldn’t continue to the end of the year with the boyfriend I started it with. Add to that, my social media following, site stats, and motivation to create anything at all declined. As a result of it all, I didn’t have the energy to visit restaurants, be happy online, and I couldn’t find the words to describe food like I did before.
Once I realized how bad things were getting, I decided to spend less time with my blog so I could spend more time figuring myself.
The third year of blogging quickly became the year where I had to figure out the balance between my own life and my life online, and determine what was most important. With that, I started to do things differently. Instead of being quiet about my depression and suicidal thoughts like years before, I told people what I was going through. To my surprise, some friends had gone through the same thing and offered great advice. There were even those who hadn’t but were extremely comforting about it all. Opening up and talking to people I trust (my sister, Nilu, Michelle, Huong, Sara, Lauren, Gigi, Christina, just to name a few but certainly not everyone) helped me in more ways than I realized at the time. I also started to go to therapy, meditated frequently, went to church more often, made use of my Netflix account, and took baby steps to refocus on what I wanted. Even watching some people leave and letting others go was hard at first, but it was necessary. As I was trying to balance all of that, the amount of blogging and interaction I did online came to a slow roll and then at points a complete halt. It was disappointing to disappear for a while, but it gave me the chance to get my head together and make improvements to move into a better direction.
For this third year, I went through a lot and stepped away from the blog I love so much. Just because I took time away didn’t mean I no longer cared about reviewing restaurants, but it meant I had to put myself first. Taking a few months off helped things come together in a much better way and it has even changed how I work as a blogger. Now that things are in a better place it means I can hone in on what I want to do as a blogger and go after those goals. The timing of that is perfect especially since now have a good job, my savings account is better than it has ever been, I only have good people around me, I have a stronger grip on the things I can control, and I’m getting my motivation back. Sure I may still miss the good times with friends I’ve lost and my ex-boyfriend, but if the future brings them back, then so be it. What I find to be the most important is that this third year showed me that I have to be my priority if I want to be in a good space and if I hope to continue to grow my blog to the best level possible. I’m glad I finally went through this and know what I know now because I hope to reflect on it in the future should I go through it again.
Today, during this third blogiversary I learned and have grown a lot. I’m doing better, have good people around me, and have my determination back. With all that gained in the last 365 days, I’m ready to walk into the next year of Follow My Gut with one goal: to start again and win.