From a very young age, I reveled in the power of words and images but never realized writing and photography could connect the dots for me in a life full of geographical twists and turns. By leaving home to find out what force was pulling me to move overseas, I was already starting to live out my purpose. I didn’t know it back then, but my identity as a “traveler” was beginning to form.
The Momentum of Social Media: Facebook Moved Me to Travel
Social media and the age of digital communication impacts us powerfully; I’m living proof.
It’s been a while since Facebook was wonderfully simple. There are days when I retract from the platform altogether and others when I hoped it wasn’t such an attractive distraction. But I remember the birth of the site and how it changed the social media landscape for good, and I remember being at the epicenter of that change. At that point it wasn’t even a mobile application, just an innovative new site to keep track of friends and their social lives. The problem? Well, a few years later in college I was bombarded by images of frat parties and tailgating festivities and just couldn’t relate. Although I attended one of the biggest public universities in the country touting some of the fiercest school pride, I couldn’t find my interests represented on the new platform, let alone the way of life I secretly wanted to lead. I always felt like a bit of an outsider at my university because it wasn’t a perfect fit for me personality-wise, but for a free education I wasn’t going to complain. As a result, I tucked notions of living overseas to the back of my brain and fit into what I thought was the typical way to enjoy the Texan college experience.
But then one day something different happened.
While browsing the site during a study break, I came upon the most beautiful, grainy film images as part of someone’s update. I was instantly intrigued mostly because the artistic photos deviated from the usual college party narrative. What appeared was the most raw, beautiful thing I’d seen on my wall up to that point. For those few captivating minutes, I spiraled into a world of wanderlust gazing at her European trip simply titled Italy: Colorful alleys in rustic seaside villages; beautiful weathered faces in up close and personal shots; piles of handmade pasta perched atop plates on plaid table cloths; colorful and delectable market excursions…This Facebook friend-of-a-friend lone wanderer was exploring Europe with a vintage film camera, and just by witnessing it, my sense of adventure fiercely ignited. It was a hugely pivotal moment for me; this girl―who I barely knew―impacted me with her photography, but most of all, she inspired me to get out there and see the world in an indirect, strange way. Transported and inspired by one simple post, the power of social media energized a notion that was already deep inside of me: Living abroad was going to make me happiest. I was thrilled to see someone else out there doing it―going for an unconventional and exciting path, one that I aspired to but wasn’t sure how to obtain. Well, I bought the same Canon AE-1 camera a week later, and still use it to this day.
As silly as it sounds, Facebook opened my eyes and jumpstarted my journey to pursue life overseas. I guess I needed that prod and push. I applied for a study abroad semester in Spain that month and the rest is history.
(I never told that girl she inspired me but maybe I will now.)
Gorgeous Globe: My four year old passion project
It started out simply enough: I did what any travel writer finding themselves 9,654 miles away from home might do. The more I saw of the world, the more I was driven to share the bittersweet, the beautiful, and of course, the delicious parts of my new life in Asia. The longer I lived away from Texas, the more I embraced digital media as a way to tell my ever-changing story, offer practical advice, and to channel my creativity into visually memorable content and honest stories.
Really, I started Gorgeous Globe to connect during a time when I felt so alone in my experience, so physically and emotionally far from home. I started it for perpetual wanderers like myself and for wannabe wanderers, too. But I also posted for the dreamers, too. I know travel isn’t always feasible, but I also know stories and photos transport people to another time and place just like that moment I saw Italy and longed to move to Europe. I wanted to carve out a digital space for like-minded people who were moving into less traveled territories and weren’t sure what to expect. My goal was to be a resource for others taking on the heavy task of living life in a newfound country; my goal was also to shine light on the complex and fascinating facets of the real expat experience. Before we moved to Makassar, I had no so such luxury. We literally moved half way across the world without so much as a clue as to what we were getting into.
Making virtual and real-life connections
An article I wrote on culture shock in 2012 caused something quite unexpected to happen. Posting it was cathartic for me, but it turned out others were reading, too; emails bombarded my inbox; people from random corners of the globe reached out; locals empathized with me; perspective expat families contacted me. I had struck a chord with a larger community of transplants and expats who had lived or were planning to live in Makassar just like us. They were curious and looking for insight on a city that at that time just wasn’t blogged about.
The positive response in itself was a great thing, but the reach and power of blogging became real to me when discovering my post had touched a fellow American who was about to move to Makassar and seriously considered doing so because of my post. We met through Skype and chatted like old friends. I gave her practical tips and personal perspective on living there, being honest about the shock yet adventure it brought into our lives. Fast forward a year later and everything came full circle for both of us; we finally met in person and sipped on coffee in the Indonesian city that connected us, laughing over the small world that it is and about the impact my blog had on her. Needless to say, that sense of fulfillment and connection is an indescribable feeling that I’ve been fortunate to experience since.
It’s true we live in vast world, but blogging has made it feel exponentially smaller. This incredibly tight-knit sense of community has wired me to the larger world, expanding the possibilities of my purpose for blogging and for creating in general. The blogging community has helped me in return: I recently met a young American travel blogger who has helped me find my way around the city of Gent.
Time to learn, improve and travel on
These days I still post to the blog, but not as much as I’d like to. There’s a few reasons for that. First, it’s a fine line to walk when traveling because as much as I love Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, being a “successful” blogger means not being completely present in the trips you take. Always documenting and photographing―although so much fun―removes you from the moment and that’s why I was reluctant to take this full force. I feel I’ve found a good balance now but even when I have the best intentions to catch up, life gets in the way. At the end of the day, I love getting feedback from people who can relate, people who are curious, or readers who just want guidance for their travels. In the coming weeks and months I have a few exciting things in the works and can’t wait to share.
I hope friends, family, and strangers will follow me on this journey if they haven’t already, because this site really means a lot to me. Continuing my dedication to travel writing and photography is a natural extension of my already established efforts. Both an art and a tool, writing and photography are the ways I navigate glorious, challenging and life changing situations. With the reach of my digital pen, I want to help and inspire more people to explore, understand and follow this world we live in.
Here’s to more exploring, learning, and traveling!