When I first started this blog I lived in a shared, poorly insulated dorm room in Russia while simultaneously working and studying full-time.
I was halfway through my degree in political science and my idea of a good drink was a Jager bomb. Which, truth be told, I would drink my fair share of on any given night of the week.
That, my home-bleached hair and outrageously colourful outfits made me feel super cool, rock’n’roll and glamorously misunderstood. Never mind that I constantly felt anxious, under pressure and exhausted.
For years I told myself that was all part of the university experience and that I should suck it up, get perfect scores on all my tests and just drink a Red Bull whenever I felt myself falling asleep with my eyes open.
Fast forward two incredibly long years and at first glance it may seem like I have almost nothing in common with that person – barring our identical DNA and birth certificates that is.
Instead of slurping up pot noodles I now cook things like kale and quinoa. The mere thought of doing five shots of tequila in a row makes me feel faint. My idea of a good drink now is a Sazerac, sipped slowly after dinner.
These differences became very apparent to me a few months ago, when I treated myself to a new pair of shoes after my birthday. A picked a somewhat impractical pair of suede over-the-knee boots from Kurt Geiger. The price tag? £300 or $425.
Depending on who you are and how much you earn, that might either seem reasonable or outrageously expensive.
The problem is, I can’t quite figure out who I am anymore. I’ve been very open with you about how much I make and although I’m not exactly rolling in dough my lifestyle is pretty swish.
As a blogger I get to do a lot of things that would normally be outside the bounds of my budget, from staying in fancy hotels to getting new dresses in the mail every week.
And the truth is, it’s messing with my head and making me question who I am and what I stand for.
That issue becomes more pressing whenever I log into Instagram. I follow hundreds of bloggers on the platform and check it about fifty times a day – a constant barrage of smoothie bowls, infinity pools, luxury suites and Louboutins.
It makes blogging look like the best paid job on the planet. Which – shocking revelation – it isn’t. It’s definitely not impossible to make a decent income, but most people never get to the point when a closet full of Louboutins and monthly trips to the Bahamas are within reach.
Most bloggers afford to do these things because they’re rarely the ones actually footing the bill. Including myself.
Sometimes I worry that my financially incongruous lifestyle is a little… well, fake. Insincere. I want Girl vs Globe to be all about inducing happiness, not misguided envy.
I don’t live in a penthouse in the centre of New York. I live in a studio in Manchester (although I’ll be moving soon and can’t wait to tell you all about it!) with my boyfriend and buying a new pair of £300 boots still feels slightly foreign to me.
Having said that, I’ve kept my integrity. I’m definitely not a backpacker and do stay at gorgeous boutique hotels even if I’m paying for them myself. I’m all about affordable luxury, both in travel and lifestyle.
That brings me back to my opening paragraph. “When I first started this blog I lived in a shared, poorly insulated dorm room in Russia while simultaneously working and studying full-time.”
I’m definitely not the student I was when I launched Girl vs Globe and my expectations have shifted. I used to think I’d graduate, move to Thailand and travel around Asia on a shoestring.
But the more I grow and progress, the more I’m realising that I’m not someone who wants to be constantly on the road. I’ve never been much of a prima donna and I could definitely handle going back to my student lifestyle… but I’d also rather not.
Drifting from place to place stresses me out. I like having a place to call my own, I like owning a dozen decorative cushions and slightly impractical suede over-the-knee boots.
Although most travel bloggers would probably chastise me for buying a pair of shoes that costs more than a return flight to Iceland, I don’t want to feel guilty about my purchase. Sometimes I want new shoes, not a trip abroad. And that’s fine.
It feels really good to say that, because for a long time that very thought made me feel guilty. I feared that mindset made me a sellout, a little consumerist diva with unreasonably high standards.
But I – and anyone who’s met me – know that’s not actually true. I love travel and crave authentic experiences. Although I enjoy the finer things in life (who doesn’t?) I’m equally happy seeing how the locals live and letting go off any semblance of luxury.
I’m just a girl trying to find her place in the world and figure out what makes her happy. I work hard and although I never want to promote mindless materialism on here – or in myself! – I don’t have to restrict myself to a life with no possessions of permanent address.
A while ago I started using a new tagline for this blog. “Girl vs Globe helps you become the leading lady in the story of your life, and find magic and happiness in the everyday.”
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do, whether I’m talking about a life-changing trip to a deserted island, a delicious smoothie bowl recipe or my brand new suede boots.
What do you think? Do you dream of being free of all material ties or do you think a nomadic lifestyle is not for you either?