Two years ago I embarked on two different journeys that would take me to strange corners of the Earth, and my mind. One started with a backpack and a one-way ticket to Spain, but you’ve heard plenty about that. The other journey started with me opening my laptop one day in Portugal. Both were equally terrifying. Both have drastically changed my life.
I started this “blogging thing” with little to no idea of what I was doing…or what can of worms I was opening for myself. I just knew that people kept asking me to somehow document the adventure I’d just embarked on- it was just me and Big Red (my backpack), sans my steady corporate salary and business attire I’d been associated with. I had gone out into the Great Unknown and people wanted to know what the grass looked like on the other side. “Won’t you start a blog so we can follow your travels? Please! We will be worried about you!”
I always loved writing…privately. Back in school I’d won awards from English teachers and been asked to read my essays but would come up with excuses why I couldn’t. “My throat is really sore. I can’t read today. Please don’t make me.” Sharing wasn’t about caring. In my mind, it was invitation to be berated and judged by my peers. So I never shared and I kept everything hidden in private notes and journals. Writing was MY thing, no one else’s, and I thought that I liked it that way.
Until now, of course.
Two years ago, I opened my MacBook while sitting on the floor of my dorm room in Lisbon, typed in the word “blog” into my search engine and jumped down the rabbit hole. I googled to no end “How to start a blog” and “Why anyone ever starts a blog,” and “Is blogging even a real f**king ‘thing’ anymore?” I knew nothing.
Online I found ample information and tools that I quickly put to use. I joined Facebook groups and other networking communities online that catered to people just like me. “A place for the blogging community to come together.” Here I came across tons of other people with questions just like mine and missing answers. The old adage of “the blind leading the blind” was all too relevant here, so I got frustrated before I even began. I proceeded to do my research (instead of writing) and my questions were amassing by the minute.
HOW, someone please tell me, do people begin a blog about their life when they’re no where near the end or the beginning? How do I become one of those people when I’m in the middle of a crisis here? My mother used to say you should never “air your dirty laundry.” And is my life even that interesting? Isn’t this whole thing a bit narcissistic? And how on Earth does one simply open themselves up to the World Wide Web of strangers waiting to judge and twist their truths? Will anyone actually read this thing? Wait…but why? Whywhywhywhy. And again…HOW?!
Doubt, shame and regret are funny entities that tend to flock together. And here I was filling up on all three before I even tried to do the thing. I hadn’t written, or shared, a word yet. Horrible how we sell ourselves short before selling ourselves at all, isn’t it? I forced myself to SSW. Sit down, shut up and write.
Turns out this “Corporate Barbie turned Globetrotting Backpacker Babe” had plenty to say and a lot of good writing material from recent events. Nothing like a “quarter life crisis,” a heartbreak and a one-way ticket to kick things off. I wrote and I wrote. A lot was going on. I transferred paragraphs from my journal to the screen. There. That felt good. I thought to myself how my words make so much more sense when I’m writing them, versus when I’m speaking. Then I wondered why I bother talking at all, without writing it out first.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” -Ernest Hemingway
It took me a couple weeks to find the lady balls to hit “publish” on my first blog post. I thought, “Don’t worry, no one will read this anyway and if they do, you can jut delete it.”
But then people did read it, and not just people that knew me. Strangers from all walks of life around the world were reading “this thing.” I counted the countries viewing my site in the first month. Fifty countries. Fifty freaking countries?!? Who are these people and why are they reading this nonsense? Surely they landed on my page by mistake. Doubt poked her bitchy head out and I sat and listened with Shame. I shut my computer, tucked it away and didn’t open it again for days. I was in Lisbon, Portugal then so I refocused on my present setting and carried on exploring.
A few days later I opened my emails and sifted through them. Junk, junk….wait, what’s this? An email from a girl I’d forgotten about. A girl that went to the same school as me growing up. A girl with roots just like mine and clearly a very different life. “Hello” was in the subject line and I reluctantly opened the email. What could this be? Maybe it’s one of those “I’ve been hacked” emails and I must delete it sight unseen…
Turns out this girl came across my blog, found it “incredibly inspiring” and “brave.” She’d been dreaming of doing the same thing I just did and it helped her to know someone “like us” was doing this. I inspired someone from a few words? My jaw dropped halfway to the floor and I felt a new sense of warm confidence inside. This is why, Heather. This is HOW and this is WHY. Sharing your journey around the world with people back home, and all over, will connect you with others. Soul to souls, fear to fears and vulnerability to vulnerabilities.
That first reader email will forever be kept in my “happy folder” and returned to often, along with all the others. Hearing from women around the world telling me that I’ve somehow touched their lives in a positive way is enough to keep me going on this blogging thing for a long time- maybe forever. In a world that’s connecting less and less face to face, it’s critically important to have a circle in which you can be real, honest and vulnerable. I’m so lucky to have found mine here.
Have you joined the SHE GOES GLOBAL Facebook group yet?
Initially I went through countless names for this site and community until I landed on “She Goes Global.” It came to me one day as I explained my reasons for starting my two journeys to a new Australian friend I met at the youth hostel (thanks Hannah!). She asked me why I decided to leave such a great job and seemingly full life behind to travel. “I was on the verge of burnout, and a breakdown. It felt like my life was hitting a giant rock wall and I couldn’t find the energy to climb it. I was living for everyone else and I felt empty inside. I was on the verge of going postal…I decided to go global instead.”
Oh my God…that’s it!
“She goes postal GLOBAL.”
And global I went, with many stories to share.
Thank you for coming along with me.
Next stop on the She Goes Global train? South America!