I’m Shivya Nath, travel blogger and writer of The Shooting Star, and this is how I Lead from Within
In 2011, at age 23, Shivya Nath quit her corporate job to travel the world. She hails from an Indian family in Dehradun, a small town at the base of the Himalayas. Nath went to Singapore to study, and graduated in the middle of the financial recession of 2009. Most companies she wanted to work with had ceased their hiring. Therefore, she landed a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, learned everything she knows about social media, and started following the journey of travel bloggers across the world. At present, she lives a nomadic life, seeks adventures off the beaten path, and works on the go to fund her travels. The Shooting Star is the home of all her travels, and she hopes to inspire others to step out of their comfort zone.
My Career Journey
To be honest, I became a travel blogger incidentally. I’ve always enjoyed writing and social media, and had created (and destroyed) some five personal blogs before The Shooting Star was born! When I decided to quit my corporate job, I wanted to travel while working with a social enterprise in India; during my experiments, I continued writing about my adventures and in the end, it’s what stuck. I got published in leading travel publications in India like The Hindu, The Times of India and National Geographic Traveller, my blog’s readership started growing, and the possibility of making a living on the go from blogging didn’t look impractical any more. I guess my inspiration always was, and continues to be, to bring stories and different perspectives of life and travel to my readers, and inspire them to kick their comfort zones and discover the world in unconventional ways.
I left the corporate world and its associated terms for a life of freedom and adventure, but it’s taken hard work to make this a sustainable way of life. One of the biggest challenges was, and continues to be, the mindset of the travel industry with respect to how bloggers and freelancers should be compensated. I’ve done my fair share of free wok in early days, and now it takes thick skin to not be bogged down by such requests!
I think it’s my appetite for risk. Travel blogging, freelancing and making a living on the go are all recipients for an unsteady income. I’ve woken up to 150 rupees in my bank account half way across the globe in Panama, and spent a thousand dollars on a flight on impulse. The ebb and flow of my income and expenditure is much like the tides of the sea – and while that might be scary to most people, I thrive on the uncertainty!
Also, Travel blogging has the power to change lives, if done right. In a world where mass tourism is destroying local cultures and ecologies, responsible travel choices can help protect fragile landscapes and preserve traditions that date back thousands of years – and travel blogging is a perfect messenger between sustainable tourism initiatives and travellers who yearn to have authentic experiences.
On Building Endurance
Travel blogging can seem like the most dreamy / glamorous career. After all, you get paid to have adventures around the world – right? But behind every successful travel blog are years of hard work, dedication and rejection, as with any other profession.
I think letting my values change and evolve with time and perspective is the biggest way traveling has moulded me; just like nothing is constant on the road, nothing should be constant in our minds. Here are some unexpected ways long term travel has changed me.
On Traveling and Self Discovery
No matter the rules society creates for me, I alone can define how I want to live my life. I don’t need a ton of money or a posh apartment to live a fulfilling life. It’s the little things– serendipity in the most unexpected places, kindness in the most unexpected times, beauty in the most unexpected parts of the world – that make life worth living. That despite being an introvert, I can make friends with locals around the world even if there’s no common language between us.
On Creating a Trail for Others to Follow
Many people like the idea of travel, but unless you’ve been on the road long enough (at least a month at a stretch), it’s hard to say if it’s really for you. Go experiment, and see if a life of travel and blogging is for you.
Don’t let yourself be defined by the molds of society; that you need to finish your MBA or be married or have a house by a certain age. Define your own rules. If you are financially independent, no one can or should call your shots. As a newfound friend in the Dominican Republic recently told me – Una Vida – you have one life, how do you plan to live it?