Hello, it’s me…

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist that title)

So, how are things with you? It’s been a while hasn’t it? So sorry. My bad.

Yet before I resume my usual erratic blogging programme (FYI I have officially given up on ever being the kind of blogger who has, let along sticks to, an ‘editorial calendar’) I just wanted to explain a little about why I took a break from writing on here. Especially as it was mid-trip and I was definitely not short of material!

I’m finding it very hard to write this blog post, mainly I think because in doing so I’m hovering over that big, wide, slip-sided ‘finding yourself’ cliche trap, but this is the sort of writing that I want to do more of on here so I’m going to give it a go. Please bear with me.

The reason I took a break from blogging was because my trip last year was never simply about seeing the world. It was, as I think travel is for so many people, about giving myself the time and space to figure some shit out. Quite a lot of shit, to be honest. Big steaming piles of the stuff.

When I think back to how I was before leaving the UK in February there are two images which pop-up inside my head. The first is that of someone wearing the wrong clothes. That is how I felt about my life. From the outside maybe it looked like I had a good one – sharing a flat in London, plenty of friends to go for dinner and drinks with, and the start of a good career, working at a literary agency. But I was miserable and frustrated, mainly because I felt like I was living a life that I had been randomly allotted rather than one I’d actively gone after, and built for myself.

The second image which pops up is that of a brain full of the voices of other people. In Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (the best book I’ve ever read on writing, creativity and life. I can’t recommend it highly enough) she talks about how we are all, at birth, given “an emotional acre all our own”. And, as long as you don’t hurt anyone you can do with it what you wish. She says that there is a fence around it, and a gate and if people keep coming onto your land you can ask them to leave. My gate was broken, and stuck wide open. I didn’t even know what my pasture looked like because it was so trampled on by other people’s feet, let alone have the opportunity to actually grow and cultivate something there.

So last year for me was about getting everyone else off my bloody grass, and taking off my ill-fitting clothes so that I could start to dress myself again from scratch.

Oh dear, I really have fallen down that trap with those metaphors haven’t I?! Oh well, I’m here now. May as well stick it out.

It was why I knew I had to do the majority of the trip solo, so that the only voice around me was my own.

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Jumping as the sun came up over Mount Batur in Bali

But as I went about shooing people away and peeling off clothes, I realised there was something from my past life that I was still carrying around with me: This blog.

However particular to me this might seem, I think it is probably similar to something other travellers struggle with and something that is symptomatic of travelling in 2016, around a world covered by the internet. You might be able to physically leave behind your friends and family, and be a new person around those you’ve just met, but your old self still follows you digitally. And it’s hard to shake off.

I found this tricky because I’d defined my trip in a certain way, and said I had certain aspirations for it, on here. I felt like I’d presumptively set things in stone, and as I went about unravelling everything I felt increasingly unsure about what I’d said. And it wasn’t even that I knew I definitely didn’t want to be a travel writer, or take this blog further, it was that I wanted to take away the assumption that I did. I’d made those statements as a very different person and wanted what I ended up doing to come from who I was now, not from who I was then.

The turning point I think for me, and it came around the same time as I stopped blogging, was deciding not to go to TBEX but to come back to Bali for another month instead. It was me deciding to prioritise sorting my head out, over pursuing an ambition I was no longer sure was really my own.

With Sean at Sixty Stone Mountain in Taiwan

With Sean at Sixty Stone Mountain in Taiwan

There was also the fact that I label myself as a Londoner on here, and as the trip went on I missed the city less and less, and gradually realised just how bad it had actually been for me. While it might seem to you that it’s just the name of my blog, and not anything to get worked up about, it was also a label I’d used to define myself for quite a while, and while I was trying to work out exactly what it is that I am, I didn’t want an old label hanging around my neck. Oddly enough, it’s taken me returning there for a short time and having it confirm my belief that no, I’m definitely not a Londoner anymore (more on this soon), that’s made me comfortable writing on here again. It is, after all, just a name.

And finally, I just needed to write for myself for a while. I was writing very much with an audience in mind, and while I might have been thinking a lot of this stuff at the time, I was too scared of writing about it on here because of what you might think. And that meant that I wasn’t writing about it at all. By taking away the pressure to publish I let myself just write, and those pages and pages of fragmented, very rough thoughts are part of what eventually cleared all the rubbish out of my brain (well, most of it anyway). And what has now given me the courage to publish this sort of stuff on here.

Towards the end of last year I played around with the idea of setting up a brand new blog, and starting afresh, with no labels or expectations. But I eventually decided that I didn’t want to whitewash my past, and that while I’ve never been proud of this blog as a whole there are actually some pieces on here that I am pleased with. And as fragmented, messy and stitched together as it might be, this blog is a sort of chronicle of my “journey” (I retched as well, don’t worry), and I like that.

I’ve always enjoyed looking at the my favourite bloggers’ older posts and seeing how they’ve changed and grown. And despite the messiness of it all there is perhaps a thin thread through it – that of my following different kinds of hunger. From food in London, to new experiences, faces and views as I travelled around last year, and now to a slightly less identifiable but still very gnawing kind: that of wanting to understand myself and my place in the world.

I’m now back in Bali, and will be here until June, working on quite a few different projects, most of which involve some sort of writing, and slowly beginning to piece together and build a life for myself that feels right. And I want to write about all of that on here, along with some of my best stories and highlights from the last few months of my trip. I’ll probably be taking quite a few tumbles into the ‘finding yourself’ trap, but perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing, after all.

 

17 Comments

  1. Emma Parker January 20, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    This post really resonated with me and while I haven’t been reading your blog for very long I am really proud of you for sharing this. The part I loved the most was perhaps when you said that you didn’t know if the ambition you had was entirely your own.

    I decided to study Journalism at a London university only to find that really, that’s not what I want at all and the biggest step I’ve had to take is to rectify that. I begin my longest trip in July, starting first in Nepal, then India and then… who knows?

    I don’t know what I’ll find out about myself, all I know now is that it’s not right at the moment and that travel and my writing have been the only two things that I really enjoy. I’m starting a blog a fresh, a kind of travel and finance thing and I don’t know where it will go or where it will lead to but I think it’s a way for me to leave it all behind and start a new.

    Thank you for sharing Fiona, I look forward to more.

    • theveryhungrylondoner January 21, 2016 / 2:02 am

      Hi Emma, I’m so pleased you enjoyed this post and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m just starting to publish more personal stuff on here, and finding it very nerve wracking so comments like this are just the best thing!

      I’d so love to go to Nepal, and going back to India is very high up my list as well! I think its very easy when you are trying to figure things out to get stuck doing something, especially if you’ve told loads of people that it is what you want, and then find out it isn’t. It’s hard to hold your hands up and go, actually I’m not sure this is what I really want. But you need to, otherwise you’ll never find out what it is that you want to do! It sounds like you’ve done that though, so hats of to you!!! I’m sure you’ll trip will be fantastic, and you never really know what it is you’re going to learn until you get going… I’ll keep an eye on your blog, and I look forward to reading all about your trip when it starts! xxx

  2. Allegra January 20, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    Just stumbled upon your blog through twitter and I just find what you’ve written quite inspiring. Especially in regards to feeling an itch and living a life you sometimes fall into rather than ‘choosing’. I too have done a little travelling and spent some time in Bali- I also dabble with writing and recently started a blog though I’m still learning. I currently live in Berlin but will be in Bali in March and April- though I am sure you are plenty busy if you ever feel like exchanging some words I would love to hear about your experiences 🙂

    • theveryhungrylondoner January 21, 2016 / 2:24 am

      Hi Allegra, thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and for saying you find it quite inspiring – that is pretty much the highest compliment you can give me!! I’m so pleased!! I think sometimes that post-uni or school we’re all so panicked about finding a job, and a life, that we kind of take the first one that is offered to us, rather than really thinking about what is that we want. I know that’s what happened with me. Absolutely! I would love to meet up with you when you are here, tweet me or send me an email once you are here! Take care xxx

  3. Phil (My Glass) January 21, 2016 / 5:13 am

    I did my travels a few years ago now, but completely understand what you’re writing about. Being away solo let’s you reassess everything and become a more confident person by being the person you want to be. Not the person you think everyone else wants you to be. Good luck on your continuing journey, because that’s what it is, I think, a continuing journey. Keep up the great work with the blog because I’ve enjoyed discovering and reading it!

    • theveryhungrylondoner January 21, 2016 / 7:50 am

      Hi Phil, thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it. And you’re right, it is definitely a continuing journey! Take care xx

  4. Gem January 22, 2016 / 11:21 am

    Beautiful post. I love your writing and you. I completely understand the desire to search – and that sometimes searching itself becomes the answer…. Or on of many answers, anyway.

    Xxx

    • theveryhungrylondoner January 25, 2016 / 4:02 am

      Thank you so much Gem!!! This made me all emotional. And you’re so right, it’s the search itself that really matters x

  5. Carolyn January 24, 2016 / 7:40 am

    So good, so honest! I’m excited to see what pours forth!

    I also dig the decision to keep the current blog – letting the world see your evolution is a powerful, wonderful choice.

    • theveryhungrylondoner January 25, 2016 / 4:04 am

      Thank you so much Carolyn!!! And I’m so pleased you agree, means a lot xxx

  6. Perri January 24, 2016 / 9:35 am

    I know this post wasn’t for anyone else but you, but know that you made a lot of your friends very happy by writing it. It’s bloody lovely to see you figuring stuff out and being happier because of it. Px

    • theveryhungrylondoner January 25, 2016 / 4:05 am

      Perri, this made me go all emotional!!! Thank you so much love, can’t wait to see you and catch up over the summer xxx

  7. Amy | Toothbrush Travels January 25, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    Brava on taking control. Journey’s are just that – a journey, and it doesn’t matter where you start, nor where you end but what you learn along the way. Hope you find what it is you’re looking for xo

  8. Torie from chilliandmint March 13, 2016 / 10:34 am

    Lovely post. I only just stumbled upon it – I think via twitter – as I was curious about your Japanese posts and am planning on hopefully visiting next year with my family. Japan has always been in my heart, owing to the fact that I had many Japanese influences growing up – my post on Katsu curry on my blog goes into that, I won’t bore you now. Anyway life is all about chapters and I think that what you are doing is wonderful, brave and exciting. Travel does great things for opening the mind and opportunities and you will also meet (as am sure you already have) interesting characters along the way. Bali is a great place to call home for the time being. I have been a few times and always love the peace and tranquility of the place. I also adore the shrine offerings that each household takes great pride and care in preserving. The warm rays must be a good thing. London continues to be quite cold, with burst of bright sunlight from time to time. Enjoy your adventure – remember this is not a dress rehearsal. Best Torie PS: I have just come back from Kerala – a place worth visiting if you have not been yet. I have written a number of posts on the place (from a food perspective) to whet your appetite.

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