The Backstory of #BeYouForYou and #HaveFeetWillTravel
What do you think is common between: the 15-year-old who began maintaining a journal and never looked back, the 22-year-old who finally got tired of being constantly ridiculed for being ‘thin’, the 24-year-old who wrote about travelling solo in India before it became a trendy hashtag and a bucket-list-item, the 26-year-old who quit her illusion of control - A.K.A. a full-time job - to see what's on 'the other side', and the 28-year-old who began nudging people to write their stories?
Answer: The redemptive power of words and stories.
P.S.: I am that girl; the girl who sees the wisdom in this Steve Jobs quote: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
And this is my story…
Writing for self-expression
What was someone who (wanted to) fit the mould of I-quit-my-job-to-travel, now doing by facilitating workshops on writing-for-self-expression? Not travel writing. Not creative writing. But writing for self-expression!
I did not quit my job to travel. I quit a desk-bound existence. I quit the un-examined life (which according to Socrates wasn’t worth living anyway).
It took me a year of examining – coupled with a few meltdowns – to realise that more than writing for an audience - whether through my blog-posts or through the projects I was undertaking - I wanted to take writing to more people.
Not writing as a skill, but writing as an experience.
After all, I had found solace in the pages of my journal ever since I was a teenager. I had been able to deflect the brickbats flung at me for being thin when I began a blog titled: Not So Ample. I gradually learned to be unaffected by the snide remarks. I also began to hear myself through the words my keyboard imprinted on my screen when I gushed about the magic of travelling. I found a sense of community when people I had never met stumbled upon my blog and expressed how a post struck a chord with them.
It was true that I had not only experienced my world but also myself differently because I wrote. I got over being ridiculed for my thinness by embedding humour when I wrote. It has also helped me vocalise myself every time I pick my backpack, in spite of what the headlines scream.
This has been redemptive power of words and stories. This was the experience of writing that I wanted to offer.
I conceptualised the "Be You..." workshop series out of the realisation of how distant and disconnected we were as a generation. Our distractions are often found at the end of our own hands: our gadgets. We awkwardly joke about ‘feeling’ disconnected in spite of ‘being’ connected.
Was it any wonder that a majority of us are more hurt, confused, and angry than we remember being a few years ago – let alone a generation ago? Both children and adults are an afflicted lot. Stress-related health ailments, malfunctioning immune systems, depressive and mood disorders that result in absenteeism, poor performance, and dysfunctional relationships are becoming visibly evident. And we have concealed our helplessness by staying more distracted - which only fuels the hurt further.
In the midst of it all, I found myself asking: What would begin happening if we found a medium to express our inner worlds? To ourselves first?
And thus was born Be You For You
My belief has been that:
If people are able to explore and use writing as a form of expression (i.e. have a cathartic experience), they can become aware about their thoughts and feelings. In turn, that awareness can induce their ability to respond proactively - and not reactively - to life’s many circumstances.
With the 'Be You...' workshop series, attendees needn’t have to have excellent English language skills or even writing skills - for that matter. Participants are encouraged to use their mother-tongue and even created words to express themselves.
Just that act alone has been such a transformative experience to witness.
I officially launched Be You For You in October 2017 and after all this time, I couldn’t be any more grateful that I took that leap of faith!
This is the story of how I joined the dots. This is the story of how I discovered a way of combining forces with what I have been interested in; writing and expression. After all, what have my travelogues been if not an expression of my own experiences from the road!