I’ve seen people on Twitter and Instagram doing the decade challenge – comparing their 2019 photos with their 2009 flashback photos. It totally got me thinking how different my life was ten years ago, as is normal for a 35 year old I guess.
A lot happens from 25 to 35.
If I open my photos from 2009, I have four folders – ‘Brighton with the Netball Girls’, ‘France bike ride’, ‘My birthday’ and ‘Take That’.
– Me in 2009 with the netball girls
If I open them from 2019 I have hundreds of folders, which I won’t list for sake of boredom. You can see the best of them in my 2019 travel post.
I definitely take more photos now, but, I have a lot more things to take photos of compared to this time 10 years ago…
Work and employment in 2009 vs 2019
In November 2009 I was made redundant from my magazine writing / editing job in Camden. It was a really shitty company but I had some great friends there (still do) and it felt exciting at the time – getting to meet Z listers like Laurence Llewellyn Bowen, having dinner at Angela Hartnett’s house, and interviewing Carol Vorderman about her ovaries.
– October 2009, with my work friends at a cocktail party, in my living room
Basically, the intern had fluffed up, the editor hadn’t noticed it, and I was getting the blame. It all coincided with the recession, and they needed to get rid of someone. I was out. I remember gathering my stuff in a black bag and sitting on the wall outside, shocked. I went back in later that day and took all my evidence from my computer, which was pretty ballsy.
I sued them for unfair dismissal in 2010 and won, so it was all ok in the end.
But, I ended 2009 on job seekers allowance, working 15 hours a week as a waitress at Arsenal football stadium and the O2, and wondering what to do with my life.
I actually got fired from that job too. Funny story so I’ll digress. I was working at the Jingle Bell Ball in VIP (big music stadium show). First VIPs that come in? Jedward. I was SO excited.
For some reason I thought it’d be perfectly fine to phone my friend in Ireland and get them to talk to her. I was MARCHED out of there when security realised what I was doing.
Absolutely do NOT know what I was thinking there.
Jobless in London.
Not what I wanted at 25 when I had a post graduate diploma and degree in journalism.
– Me / Rod Stewart in October 2009 on Brighton Beach
What I did do though, was set up a LinkedIn profile at the recommendation of a friend. Within a few weeks someone from Rail Europe got in touch for me to rewrite their website.
Also, sometime in December I went to a meeting about TEFL Celta courses, as I felt like that was another option for me. As soon as they announced to the 50ish person room that they were giving away a CELTA course that night (worth £1000) and had everyone’s name in the hat, I knew I was going to win. It was really strange. I still remember the assurance as they opened the winning paper, I’ve never felt that before or since.
And I did.
I mention that because I started the course, and in my final week, which was actually February 2010, I told them I was going to set up a blog and write about my travels, as I’d got a job with my ex in Barcelona teaching English.
One guy, Tariq, replied ‘who’d read that?’ and laughed.
Annoyingly, I let that put me off. And my first blog I’d set up – vjphilpott.co.uk – went unused and updated. But, I had enjoyed the experience of setting it up. Apparently I’d banked that idea for later, and instead, in 2010 went on a brilliant 5-month trip to Europe without the pressure or distraction of writing about it.
And so, at the turn of the decade from 2009 to 2010, I was learning about writing for the internet, remote working, exploring Europe from the comfort of my laptop, learning about the joy of trains and fuelling my wanderlust every day by learning about new places.
Erm… kinda like what I’m doing 2019 to 2020 really.
I’ll keep this brief, as the last 8 years – since I actually did set up a slightly better named blog here – have been well documented in over 800 blog posts.
After the teaching job in Barcelona we travelled, spent all our money, came back to London five months later and moved in with my ex’s mum. Where I stayed for the next four years in various jobs, and with various online sidelines.
I wrote, I researched, I applied, I put myself out there, I persevered, I worked hard, I sought opportunities, I travelled to 50+ countries, I laughed, I cried, I travelled some more, I found a new life, and now I’m here.
At the turning of this decade I’m proud and grateful for the friends I’ve made, the blog I’ve created, the travellers I’ve helped, and I’m really excited to create more next year. Sometimes it seems the possibilities with blogging are endless – and that is so exciting.
I’m not on job seeker’s allowance anymore.
In fact, I ended up working on some of the UK’s biggest magazines as a freelancer and I’m often featured on UK top blogger lists. I’ve also bought a house on my own, with my own deposit, and have a bit of cash in the bank too.
Oh my god, can you imagine?
Travel blogging has changed SO much since I started that if you’d dipped in then, and now you were back, it’d seem like a different industry.
I have absolutely no idea where it’ll be, whether I’ll be in it, and what it’ll be like. That blows my mind to think about.
Will I still be a travel blogger at 45?
READ MORE: 8 Best Moments in 8 Years of Blogging
Home life in 2009 vs 2019
For most of 2009 and into 2010 I lived in a grotty flat in Holloway in London. I loved it. It’s one of my favourite places I’ve lived.
The kinda place that when mum came to stay she bought cleaning products and something to stand on in the bathroom as the toilet constantly leaked.
My housemates and I did not get on. Could be because it was a great house for parties with lots of space downstairs, and I liked to use it for that often. Better to get forgiveness than permission sometimes.
– Photos from one of my house parties
At the start of 2009 I met my ex and we had a great year in London. I met his friends, he met mine – my friendship circle was instantly doubled. I had friends from netball (I was captain of the Islington Panthers!), from working at camp in the US, and the odd school friend who’d made it to London too.
With all that space my school friends came to visit often and we had some great birthday celebrations in London. When I think back, all was rosy really.
More secure though now, of course.
As I say, I have my own three-bed house in Southsea, where my boyfriend and friend Emily live. After living in my ex’s mum’s house for four years, and then hostels for three, it’s always amazing to have my own place, to do with whatever I like.
I don’t see my school and college friends as much – mainly thanks to distance and babies – but we’ll always be friends. I spend a lot of time with my travel blogger friends now, either chatting online of off around the world. After a week on a press trip you have a certain bond.
It’s sad how few people who were a big part of my life back then, I speak to now. People change and move on, and I guess I have new people in their place too.
Where will I be living at 45?
The fact of my job is that I could live ANYWHERE in the world. Of course there’s a small part of me that fancies life on a beach or somewhere new and exciting, but for now, I’m happy in England and having a base with my boyfriend, rather than pursuing the old digital nomad way of life.
Holiday in 2009 vs 2019
– I went on ONE holiday in 2009, to France. We cycled from Paris to Riberac, camping as we went.
I went on ONE holiday in 2009. A group of friends and I took our bikes on the Eurostar over to Paris and cycled down to my friends’ parents house in Riberac. We had two weeks and had a brilliant time. None of us bought sleeping bags and we froze every night. We ate cheese, bread and pizzas every day, and I didn’t poo for a week.
But, what an adventure.
Errm, 16 different trips abroad this year. From Germany, to South Korea, to Samoa and Australia – I have racked up those airmiles.
I can’t really imagine travelling at the frequency I have the last few years again, but, never say never!
It’s been fun writing this, and remembering, as I sit here with a glass of Bailey’s. Ten years is a long time, and of course there are ups and downs in that time, but when I look back over my years in London, and my years of travel, and then living in Southsea, I’m an incredibly lucky person and it’s all been amazing.
I wonder what the next ten years will hold?
I’d love to know your 2009 vs 2019 flashbacks.
Let me know what’s changed most in your life in the comments box below.