NOTE: This post came out 49 hours and 30 minutes later than I would have liked, and I apologise. Turns out that attending a writer’s conference is not necessarily conducive to the act of writing.
There never was a blogger that didn’t want to become famous doing it.
And there never was a famous blogger that didn’t claim to have started with nothing.
Perhaps I say this after having seen a few too many influencer training ads back to back - you know, the ones you accidentally click on and then get a hundred more of, courtesy the algorithm. There are these immaculately attractive people hanging by poolsides and sailing in Bali while telling you how they started with a zero bank balance, had no idea how blogging worked, could barely write their own name, yada yada, and yet here they are, peddling thousand-dollar courses on how you can do it too!
If that’s the formula for Insta-fame, looks like I’m out of luck. Because not only is my version of attractiveness the scruffy-chic kind, but I’m also not starting from nothing.
Look, I get it. Rags-to-riches makes for a great story, and everyone’s a beginner at some point. But unless you’ve been blogging since the moment you were born, you almost certainly have some talents, interests, beliefs or experiences that informed your decision to blog. How else would you even know that you wanted to blog, right? And while I understand that a lot of the downplaying might come from not wanting to appear ‘privileged’ or wanting to be more inclusive of everyone, I think it’s disingenuous to not talk about what you have, because everyone in the audience has their own set of abilities that they’re going to use - whether directly or indirectly - when they start their own blogging journey. In fact, by talking about it, you inspire your readers to look within themselves and identify their unique abilities so they can get to that starting point faster. Which, if you ask me, is a great way to influence. :)
So I’m going to be upfront about the things that inspired me to start The Bougie Hiker, because there are several, and I’m grateful for all of them.
I’m new to hiking, but I’m not that new to fitness. I started weight training in 2020 and have built up a certain amount of strength and endurance, which made the tougher trails easier than they might have been.
I’ve always enjoyed walking, and especially walks through nature. Before moving to the States I was in the habit of taking almost nightly walks around our Bangalore neighbourhood.
Travelling solo comes naturally to me. I did a semester in Europe when I was 22 and have loved exploring on my own ever since. As a consequence, I’m also pretty good at travel planning.
I have a system-based approach to tasks that helps me stay organised and generate ideas more effectively. I make checklists, use Toggl and Trello and write down all my stray thoughts and ideas by hand.
I’ve pivoted careers before. In early 2018 I quit my corporate job and moved to a different city by myself in search of a better life, even though I had no clear future plans back then. And by late 2018, I’d set up the freelance career that I’m still building.
I’ve been writing a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean since I was five. I’ve written fiction, poetry, essays, articles, papers and press releases, and I’ve been a professional writer for over four years. This not only means that I’m good at writing, but also that I have a pretty solid portfolio of published work.
I’m a naturally confident speaker and have no problem striking up conversations with new people.
I’m very good at dealing with discomfort on the trail. Whether it’s a headache or a PMS cramp, I believe in surging on and I always do so. It’s an attitude I’ve cultivated over the years.
I’ve read a lot about mental health and I’m highly aware of what my specific form of depression looks like. I’m good at identifying where my core faults lie, what insecurities or limiting beliefs they stem from and what kinds of action I can take to improve on them.
I have a sense of adventure that’s almost reckless (or so I’ve been told). There’s almost no outdoor activity I’m not willing to try, and it thrills me to think about how many there are and how extreme they can get (here’s looking at you, Mt Aconcagua). I respect adventure, and on occasion I fear it, but I always, always seek it.
And as a bonus - I have an immensely supportive spouse who’s a fabulous hiking and adventure partner and who encouraged me to take up fitness in the first place.
So there you have it. I’m not a helpless babe in the woods. If that disappoints you, by all means, read a rags-to-riches tale instead. But I want to acknowledge everything that has brought me to this point, be it innate ability, cultivated skills or shifts in mindset. And if I ever do become a mega-blogger, it will be because of those things and not despite them.
And if I don’t - well, I still have all of this to be grateful for.
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So what happened at the writer's conference, if not for writing? :) :)
Never thought of myself as an adventure partner. I think I can have that on my business card :)