Recently I’ve had three different people say something to me that I wasn’t expecting. They told me that I was inspiring. I laughed it off each time and couldn’t take the compliment seriously. But it did get me thinking.
Last year I attended the ProBlogger conference – an event I’d been watching online for years from the UK. At that event I met loads of incredible bloggers that were doing so much good in the world through being ambassadors for charities. I listened to speakers that were putting in so much effort to help others. It really inspired me to look at ways I can do more to help people. I’ve done a few posts and tweets for charities before, but no way near enough to make me feel like I’m inspiring anybody or doing any real good in the world.
So why did these people feel the need to tell me they were inspired by me? They each had different reasons.
One said it was because I followed my dream of writing for a living and setting up my own business. They said it was because I just did it – I decided to be a writer, and then I became one. I’d been working as a freelance project manager for a few years when I found out I was pregnant with twins seven years ago. I wanted a more flexible career and writing had always been my passion, so I decided to go for it. I sent out some pitch emails, found a regular travel writing gig by pure fluke and then used the content as examples to find more work.
It doesn’t make me inspiring. To be a writer, you just need to write. It’s that easy. Earning money isn’t always so easy, but then I have some weird inner confidence that it will all be OK. And it usually is. Self-belief is a massive part of being self-employed – if you aren’t convinced you’re going to make it, you probably won’t. But anyway, as I said, it definitely doesn’t make me inspiring. Before I became a writer, I was a freelance project manager. Project management was fun but it was all-consuming and I knew I wouldn’t have the time or energy to keep that up with two babies to look after. As I work for myself, any effort I put into my business comes back directly to me. It’s not about being inspiring, it’s about controlling my own life, doing what I love and being able to work around my family.
Another person said I was inspiring because I followed my dream to move to Australia. They said the daunting task of selling up and moving a family across to the other side of the world would put off most people. For me, I knew that if I didn’t do it the pain from regret would outweigh the inconvenience and cost of making the move. There really wasn’t a choice – I could stay stuck where I was, living a life I wasn’t happy with, in an area that didn’t feel like home to me even though I’d lived there for ten years. Or I could make a change and give something new a try. The move has been awesome – it has brought us closer together as a family and it has shown me that we can achieve anything we want if we work together and we put our minds to it. Again, I’m not sure that it’s inspiring – I didn’t feel we had any other choice as both Hubby and I knew we needed to do this. We couldn’t have carried on living our old lives. It was easy but every day was the same and we just saw more of the same stretching out in front of us. Not only would I have been unhappy, but Hubby would have felt unfulfilled too as Australia was as much his dream as it was mine. Moving was really a no-brainer.
The third person said I was inspiring because I didn’t let having kids hold me back when it comes to seeing the world. Travel was an important part of our lives before we had the kids and it always will be (we were in the Maldives when the boys were conceived at the end of a round-the-world backpacking adventure). Having kids changed things more than I expected, mainly because we had twins first. I’m certain if we’d started with a single baby we’d have done more travel in the early days, but two babies limited our travels as it made it more complicated. It didn’t stop us totally – we just thought more carefully and did easier trips to family resorts or UK destinations instead of visiting places off the beaten track.
I know a lot of people that say it’s too hard to bother travelling with kids. And I know others that say there’s no point travelling with kids until they’re old enough to remember the experience. Of course, travelling with kids is way harder – but if you love to travel, then it will be important to share travel experiences with your kids too. If travel wasn’t your thing before having kids, then I can see why adding kids to an adventure would put you off even more, and that’s OK – travel isn’t for everyone.
As for the excuse of not taking kids away until they’re old enough to remember it – I have fantastic memories of holidays with my family from when I was a toddler (yes, really!) And for the holidays that I can’t remember? My parents benefited from those memories. Just like I will always remember the first time we took our 20-month-old boys on holiday abroad. They won’t remember a single bit of that trip to Menorca, but it will always be one of my most amazing holidays. Not because of the resort (which wasn’t anything special) but because we had two weeks of carefree time in the water and on the beach with our two squidgy toddlers. We watched them run down the beach path every afternoon, and then refuse to get back in their buggy. We watched them boogie at the disco every evening (well, T2 did – T1 just wanted to run off out of the building all the time). The precious two weeks will stay with me forever. Who cares if they don’t remember or appreciate it? And now that the boys are six and our daughter is three, they will remember things from our holidays. They’ll get to experience new things. They’ll learn things about the world around them. They’ll learn to adapt to new situations. They’ll gain confidence in their abilities. They’ll learn to explore. Again, I don’t think I’m being inspiring – it’s just the attitude Hubby and I have about travel and life in general.
What do people really think of YOU?
What makes an inspiring life? Is it living life by your own terms, following your dreams through to the end, not letting negative people get in your way and following your passions? Making a difference in the lives of other people?
I think that when you say out loud the things you’ve achieved in your lifetime, you’ll be pretty amazed at how inspiring YOU are. You just don’t think about it because it’s your own life. Go on, write down a list of the things you’ve done. Did you leave a job you were unhappy with to start a new one? Did you walk away from something that wasn’t working for you? Maybe you moved house to a new town even though it was hard to leave behind your old home? Or maybe you gave your time to raise money for a charity even though you were busy?
I’d love for you to share this post with a friend and tell them today – right now – why THEY are inspiring to you. We don’t tell each other often enough. We just assume that everyone KNOWS that they’re inspiring. Trust me, they honestly don’t and they’ll be stoked to hear a compliment like that from you. Because, you know what? I’m sure they think you’re pretty inspiring too.