Please Stop Telling Me How Lucky I Am!

November travel round up

“Wow, a travel blogger! You’re so lucky.”

Errr…. sure, sure. Thanks. Except not really.

I used to feel proud and excited to tell people “I’m a travel blogger”, and quite deservedly really: I ought to be allowed to be proud of myself for everything I’ve achieved. But these days the “so what do you do?” question – so casual, so innocent –  fills me with dread and clumsy awkwardness. Because I know my answer will be met by one of the usual reactions – the blank stare of confusion, often followed by something along the lines of “but what do you do for real a job?”, or the enthusiastic fascination and the string of questions (mostly about how I make money). And if we go further down either conversational rabbit hole, people usually conclude (no matter how adamantly I try to explain otherwise) that I “just go on holiday and write about it” for a living. Then they tell me how lucky I am. Which isn’t really fair.

Controversial post today I know, but it’s been building up in me for a while now and l felt like I wanted to say something. Because I constantly hear from everybody – friends, family, dates, doctors, strangers, followers posting comments on my blog – how lucky I am. And that can get a just a tiny bit annoying. Because I don’t really like how easily all my hard work and invested time and talent* can be dismissed as good fortune.

*Yes, talent, because there must be some scrap of skill knocking around in me somewhere for me to have made it this far. 

india travel tips for solo female travellers

First things first, I already know how lucky I am. In my thirty little years of life I have worked some of the most horrible jobs my lovely country has to offer. I’ve worked in call centres, cleaned caravans, lugged heavy boxes up multiple flights of stairs to shop stock rooms, attempted to sell double glazing via un-welcomed cold calls, sat shivering in an icy garage renting posh cars to (mostly) mean rich snobs, taken complaints calls at a UK gas company call centre, and even briefly completed a hellish stint in the kitchen of a popular cheap pub brand (rhymes with never moons). Having gone through many years of crappy jobs – not to mention seen with my own eyes some of the truly terrible working conditions that exist elsewhere in the world – I’m well aware that I have an AMAZING job today. Believe me, not a day goes by that I don’t recognise that and thank my lucky stars.

But here’s the thing. It ISN’T luck that brought me here. You would’t say that someone like Elon Musk has a bajillion dollars because he was lucky – it’s because he worked really hard and has a brain full of insane cleverness. In the same (but far less clever or well-paid) vein, I am a travel blogger today because of a series of hard work, seized opportunities, sacrifice, and more hard work. I didn’t spin a wheel on the job lottery and get given “travel blogger”. Life doesn’t work like that.

I’m a blogger because 1) I took a chance and started a blog, then 2) I worked really flipping hard on that blog for YEARS AND YEARS until it took off well enough that I was able to support myself full time. Luck had a lot less to do with it than you might think.

Please Stop Telling Me How Lucky I Am!

I spent a long time learning, working, and learning some more. I worked damn hard at my blog (still do in fact). I’d sit at my call centre job in between phone calls working on blog posts or reading articles about how to write better blog posts. I’d come home from work and write more blog posts, or edit photos, or do boring behind-the-scenes-y admin work. I often neglected the relationship I was in at the time, in favour of nurturing the very demanding, pixel-and-html baby I’d created on the internet. I invested not only my time but a whole lot of myself into this blog, I poured my heart and soul into it. And I don’t think the fact that it all paid off has much to do with luck. I think it’s skill and hard work and the fact that I tried, kept trying, and tried some more – without ever wavering or giving up. I think it’s insulting to write all of that off as good luck.

The only real luck that comes into it anywhere is perhaps the location of my birth, and who my parents were. I’m lucky I was born in England, where we get free education and fairly decent opportunities. Travelling really has opened my eyes to exactly how grateful I am to be from where I’m from. I’m also lucky that my mum was an enthusiastic writer and encouraged me to work on my own stories. But the fact that I took full advantage of all the opportunities that life threw at me, and didn’t let any of the truly horrendous setbacks it’s also thrown at me hold me back, is not because I am a lucky person. At least, I don’t think it is.

Fun Things to do in Edmonton

I’m where I am today thanks to a mixture of skill, hard work, self-directed training, some inspirational people, and the encouragement of my close friends and family. And that’s the same story for anyone successful I know (not just bloggers). So to say “you’re so lucky” can actually almost feel like an insult.

What’s funny is that for the longest time I just agreed. Partly because I do feel lucky – I’ve had some amazing opportunities and I recognise that. But more because, especially in England, it’s not exactly cool or even socially accepted to admit to being proud of yourself. To stand up and say “I’ve done well and I’m proud of that” is pretty hard. And I find it far harder to say, out loud to somebody’s face, that I believe I am a good writer. Deep down I believe I am one, but admitting that fact (even here, now) feels uncomfortable and embarrassing. Because it just feels like showing off, and we’re taught from a very young age not to do that. Obviously you shouldn’t just constantly brag, no one likes that – but I think it’s really strange that we’re made to feel as though we shouldn’t celebrate our wins in life. That so many of us struggle to say “I’m good at this, and I’m proud”. Why shouldn’t we shout from the rooftops when we’ve been successful? Why instead do I shrug and say something self deprecating and change the subject? Maybe it’s because our successes are all too frequently cast off as “good luck” and we simply start to believe that.

Emily Luxton Travels January 2016

Getting an award for my blog – literal proof that I’m kinda good at this!

If you have a successful friend and you see them doing well, think twice before you tell them how lucky they are. Maybe instead, you could tell them how proud you are of them, or that you think they truly deserve it. I can guarantee that it’ll make them far happier than being told they’re lucky. Because, more than likely, they already know how lucky they are – but they might not recognise how much of their success came from them, and not good fortune.

What do you think – am I on point or just being a whiny blogger? Scroll down and leave me a little comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Please Stop Telling Me How Lucky I Am!

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

38 Comments

  1. Bloody love you for writing this Ems! I couldn’t agree more. So much hard work behind the scenes. But people forget that, just say how lucky we are, as if we were selected for the dream life and they got overlooked!

    • Thanks Chloe!! I think people are way too inclined to look at success as “good luck”. Sometimes that is the case – but most of the time success comes as a result of hard work and talent combined with a bit of “right place, right time”! At least we know how hard we work eh?

  2. Ohhhhh, I just thought someone came along one day, decided you were the lucky chosen one, and handed you the blog to do with what you pleased. Thanks for clearing that up.

  3. Congratulations on seeing your hard work pay dividends.

  4. You’re doing well because you’re a bloody good writer. I absolutely love your stuff girl and yes you do work hard and i’m glad it’s paid off for you. Keep writing so I can keep reading :)

  5. I think it was a very brave decision Em to do this job, so many people don’t have the courage and are snidy at people who have because they are jealous and that’s pathetic! They don’t see you toiling away. So a big well done you! ??? xx

    • Aw thanks Annaliese! I don’t think anyone realises how scary it was the first time I published a post, or the first time I shared my blog with people I actually know on Facebook (such a massive step back then!) – it might seem like a pretty simple thing to just start a blog but it took me a lot of guts at the time. And then making the decision to make it full time and not go back to the safety and regular pay of a normal job! I’m very proud of myself really and I think it’s justified that I am! xx

  6. We create our own opportunities through thinking and perseverance! As one who battles to write, I admire your ability

    • Thank you so much Jone! You’re exactly right – we do create our own opportunities and I definitely created mine the day I sat down and decided to start a blog. A few amazing opportunites have come my way since then but I had to be the one to make the most of them, nothing simply landed in my lap!

  7. Thanks for writing this Emily, I couldn’t agree more! I travel as part of my job working on cruise ships and am constantly told that I’m ‘lucky’. I’m always explaining the 10 hours (at the minimum) a day I work, 7 days a week, 6 months straight, are how I got where I am and have the perks I do. I absolutely adore my job, but just like you, I got here by working hard and being good at what I do. Be proud of your achievements, you’re amazing!! Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks so much Erica!! People are just so quick to assume that a great job (or other great thing) comes from “luck” – but in reality it has nothing to do with luck! Good for you for working hard and reaching a place where you love your job :D x

  8. Probably the best post I’ve read in a loooooonnggg time hun! Well done you for taking the plunge, well done you for sticking with it when it’s not all roses and well done you for standing up for your right to be appreciated and recognised! Loved this so much x

    • Thanks so much Sabrina! I think we should all be able to stand up and celebrate ourselves a bit more – when we’ve done well we deserve to be proud of ourselves! x

  9. Love this post! I just had this conversation with my roommate the other day. She deemed that I am lucky that I dont have to go to work and I can just stay at home for having this blogging job and wants to do the same.

    I told her it is not that way but I just dont feel explain to her anymore about the amount of job involved. There is nobody can understand how much work travel blogging involves than a fellow blogger.

    • Haha yep it can be so frustrating trying to explain to people how much work is involved in what we do! No one wants to believe that because they just want to believe the glamour they see on Instagram – even though it’s only a tiny part of what we do!!

  10. I hear you!! So good. So true. I have lots of people telling me I’m so lucky to have such good kids… they don’t just turn out good either. Congratulations on your accomplishments so far. Here’s to many more!

    • Haha exactly – as if kids are either good or bad and your parenting has nothing to do with it! Well done you for raising such good kids – with 9 nieces and nephews I can appreciate what hard work than can be :) Thanks so much for reading Kim!

  11. I couldn’t agree more with this post! When I was travelling full time I was constantly told how lucky I was by extended family and friends. I think a lot of them failed to realise how much hard work I put in to be able to do it!

    SHAKIRA SACKS

  12. Babes this was one of the best posts I’ve read in a LONG time! You absolutely hit the nail on the head there, it’s time that people recognised the hard work that goes into blogging (and we’re not always on holiday haha!).

    Hayley xo
    http://www.frockmeimfamous.com

    • Thanks so much Hayley :) I think people are way too quick to equate success with good luck and its just not fair. We know how hard we all work and I think any success we get is well deserved! Glad I got it off my chest anyway :) xx

  13. I know exactly what you mean. Not necessarily about blogging but about life in general. My husband and I have a really lovely life mainly because we’ve worked our butts off for it but it drives me insane when people say ‘you’re lucky’. No we made this happen! I will say that we have been lucky with some circumstances but hard work and good choices have helped. I suppose people saying you are lucky just means they appreciate your opportunities. It’s not meant as a derogatory thing – even thought it sounds like it!

    • I know – I doubt anyone means it in a deorgatory way but I just think people ought to think twice before they say “ooh your so lucky” without thinking first that maybe we desrved or earned this! Anyway I’d had about 5/6 comments in a day and just felt like I needed to get it off my chest :) If you earned yourself a nice life it’s got very little to do with luck I think!! Thanks for reading and commenting :D

  14. Blogging and content creation is hard work. You have to be super organised, an expert in photography, editing, writing, SEO, social media promotion and that’s just for starters. Anyone who has been on a press trip can vouch for the fact that it’s not a jolly. It’s also nice to remember, as you do, that there are other jobs in the world that are far worse and that we are priviledged in the western world to be able to do this for a living. I just tell anyone who asks that I am a writer now.

    • Excatly – it’s a lot of work and not very much to do with luck when it all pays off!! But anyway, not everyone can see that and no one will ever think it’s hard work unless they do it for themselves. And I still count myself lucky every day that I was able to turn this into my job, because I could be doing anything else – and if I hadn’t been born where I was I might not be able to do this. Then again I was hardly born with a silver spoon in my mouth – very working class background, not a lot of money, scraped myself through uni while working almost full time (and despite some major personal probmels)… none of that was good luck! Anyway, I just felt like I needed to stand up for myself a bit and point out that I have actually earned my place here. It was as much for me as for anyone else, sometimes I need reminding.

  15. Ursula Petula Barzey

    Sadly I don’t think people realize how much hard work goes into growing a blog into a successful business. I suppose because its so easy to get started and blogs are a dime a dozen. Anyway, don’t let it get to you. You’ve definitely done the hard work and now reaping the rewards. So well done you and say it loud and proud – I’m a full time travel blogger. :)

    • Thanks so much Ursula :) I already feel like I stumbled upon the best job in the world by accident, and everyone I talk to seems to reaffirm that by telling me how lucky I am. But when I really think about it I realise that most of this is down to me. There’s a little bit of luck involved in everything – in terms of what opportunities come your way. But it hardly fell into my lap. I think I wrote the post for me more than for anyone else, as a reminder to myself that I have earned this and I deserve to be proud :D

  16. Wow! Great blog post. It says out loud all the stuff that’s been in me for years but that I’d never managed to verbalise. To this day (17 years after my “luck” paid off) I still get that awful sinking feeling whenever someone asks me “so what do you DO?”. Aarrgghh.
    Good for you, keep telling it as it is! Jo

    • Thank you so much Jo – and I’m really glad to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way!! There is luck involved of course, but on the whole I worked for everything I have. And not all that glitters is gold, either – what seems like the most amazing job in the world still has its downsides!!

      Ignore the sinking feeling – we should be proud of our successes :D

  17. I guess some well-meaning folk might have suggested you are “lucky” as they didn’t have the opportunity in the right place at the right time to do the same thing? If you’re a person with a partner, a FT job, a big mortgage and 3 kids I’m sure there quite simply isn’t the time to build up a travel blog in the background too. And even if there was when ever would they be able to go anyway what with school time etc. (although I imagine some manage it somehow). So I guess the “lucky” they mean is having the opportunity to be a travel blogger when for some it’s simply not a possibility :)

    • Oh please don’t get me wrong – I’m totally aware that I’m lucky to have had the opportunities I have (I tried to stress that in the post but maybe it didn’t come across). BUT that said I also know that plenty of people had similar opportunities to me and didn’t make the most of them. I’ve worked hard my whole life and my success has come from that more than from any luck. Opportunities and luck are only a small part of any success – my argument is that hard work and dedication are a much bigger part and getting told over and over that I’m “lucky” feels like it takes away from that.

      On another note – I know quite a lot of successful bloggers who have kids and a partner but still made it!! I know it’s not a possibility for everyone, and I count my lucky stars that things aligned for me as they did – but I could have missed all the opportunities. The other point is that no one ever knows the backstory. For example – my blog got much more successful after my ex dumped me and I threw all my energy into blogging – and that certainly didn’t feel like I was lucky haha. Plus, there have been SO many setbacks and mishaps along the way. There’s always a back story and a lot of hard work behind any success, it’s never simply “good luck”. That was the point I was trying to make with this post, anyway :)

  18. Fair play you’ve made it your own and I guess people want to read your stuff, I found this by accident, but your writing is pretty self absorbed, be confident in what you do not wo is me, on the outside it does appear different, well done on your success but you are privileged and trying to make out otherwise is a little hypocritical.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I knew that eventually someone would comment to disagree with me! That’s why I asked people for input – I want to find out all sides to this.

      Just out of interest, how did you come across this post if you’re not a regular follower? Just curious!

      Anyways, to answer your point, please let me say I’m well aware that I’m privileged. At least in that I’m a white female born in England. But no one knows my backstory and the privelege ends at my nationality, at least in a lot of ways. I started to write out all the ways in which I’m not priveleged but I deleted it from the post because I didn’t want to sound too “woe is me” (as you put it!) but there are a lot of ways. Life wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter. I got everything I have by working hard and paying for it myself. And that’s the point I really wanted to get across – everything I have comes from hard work. I had to overcome a lot of things to make it to this point.

      I know that I’ve had a lot of great opportunites in life that many people will never have. But – I also know a lot of people in my country had the same opportunities (like free education, a relatively stable economy etc) and never made the most of them.

      So anyway, that was my main point with this post. That every single successful person I know is successful because they worked hard and owned it. I do know that I’ve been lucky, I thank my stars for it all the time, and I tried to get that across in the post. But it’s not all down to luck – and I do think people should think twice before they tell anyone successful how “lucky” they are. Lucks involved for sure, or circumstance is, but it’s not the be all and end all. If that makes sense. Anyway, that’s my point. And thank you for making yours :)

    • Oh – and as for my writing being self absorbed. I know it is!! This is a personal blog about me, about travel, and about my journeys. So I talk about myself a lot!! Not for everyone I know but some people seem to enjoy it :)

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