My mom likes to remind me of a story from when I was five and I was very passionate about animals. (Took me until I was 20 to become a vegetarian, though.) One day, I decided I was going to start a club to save the animals. Which ones? I don’t know. Just all of them. My tiny self made business cards on Microsoft something-or-other advertising a Save the Animals club meeting, at recess, on the playground.
The day after I left my hostel job, I used some points on a hotel and absolutely crashed. I had plans to go to a Firefly Park with friends, but I was overwhelmed and retreated. The moment my head hit the (four!) pillows (luxury!), I realized that I was completely, utterly exhausted. I could barely move. I didn’t leave the building for the next 24 hours…I extended my stay another night because I needed to get my energy back and make a game plan. My flight to Australia wasn’t until the 12th of October…and it was the 23rd of September. I had originally booked a trip to Bali, but fears of Mt. Agung’s possible eruption kept me in Malaysia. (The alert level for the airport was one step away from completely shutting down, and I had a cat to sit. Honestly, if I didn’t have obligations in Australia, I might have risked getting stuck in the world of the Yoga Barn.) I had a very limited budget, a weak source of freelancing income, over two weeks before my flight to Australia, and no plan…so I had to kill some time.
Backpacking is booking a flight to Bali on a whim, dreaming of The Yoga Barn and walking through the Monkey Forest. Everyone at the yoga retreat in Cambodia encouraged a trip to Bali. Your mom wants you to go. You haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love, but you know a thing about heartbreak and could use a chat with a monk and a juice cleanse. Your Instagram following could use a boost and what’s $3 a night for accommodation? Sigh. Shrug. Pleasant ‘mmm.’
Backpacking is uncontrollable sobbing in your hostel dorm, sending a flurry of contradictory messages to people who are on the other side of the world, who are ready to go to bed or go out for the night. Something, which you’ve been sure was ‘hormones’ the past two days, has a grip on each of your lungs and each of your eyes, relentless. You’re out of balance and out of control and wondering at what point you’re going to have to accept your personal definition of “failure” and book the flight back home.
Backpacking is both of these events happening at the same time.
Getting down to the wire! Soon you’ll be bombarded with gorgeous photos of Thailand, Cambodia, and Australia.
But for this post, I’m gonna switch the spotlight over to some amazing people in my life who are making some cool stuff. Y’all, it’s so important to support your friends who are making some cool stuff. Coming from someone who briefly had an Etsy shop, the support of friends and friends-of-friends is more touching and beautiful than I can accurately describe. This support creates a connection and a validation that is hard to find as a small business owner or artist, especially when we are constantly being bombarded with products and brands and ads and algorithms fueled by corporations who have more money, reach, and resources than small business owners have when they start out.