Else Stories: These are the stories of real Else readers, of those pursuing and living their Else. Else Stories grant you a peek into moments of joy and insight, a look at what really matters in the lives of real people and real families. It is a glimpse into stories of adventure, family, perspective, and AHA moments, of learning, struggle, and happiness, all in the pursuit of a life well-lived, a life that doesn’t follow the usual formula, a life that is something Else.
When I was a little girl, I was an avid reader. I loved stories of every size, shape and colour. And I knew that one day, I’d be a writer too.
Of course, I wrote stories, but it was never a particularly practical aspiration. It was just something that felt right.
Fast forward to my early 30s, and that ambition felt a long way away. After several career starts, stops, and reboots, I still wasn’t doing what I loved. I’d tried out journalism, teaching, and finally marketing. All were careers that revolved around writing.
But I was stymied. There was no creativity in what I was doing. In short, I felt like I was doomed never to be able to find the outlet that I needed. My own story seemed to have lost the plot.
So what changed?
Well, I have my husband to thank for a lot. As we planned our honeymoon, he pushed for some long-term travel rather than a few weeks of luxury. After discussing plans and possibilities, we decided to leave everything behind and travel through Latin America for a year.
As well as being a great adventure, we both saw it as a chance to flex our creative muscles by joining forces to create a travel blog. He was the photographer and techie, and I was the writer. It would be a new facet to our relationship, something we’d build together that would simultaneously contribute to our personal development.
At the start, we were pretty naive about the sheer amount of work that goes into blogging. It was a real learning curve. For me, the hardest part was working out exactly what I wanted to communicate. Eventually, I had to concede that I wasn’t interested in writing a standard travel blog at all. For me, it was all about stories.
As I looked back over the incredible things we’d done on our trip, I started to really reflect on the process of constructing stories. That timeless structure of beginning, middle, end comes so naturally in fiction.
But what about in life? So often, it feels like we’re moving along with no sense of purpose or definition. As a travel writer, I started to look back over events and consider how to fictionalise them as narratives. I realised that simply moving the start and end of any tale can, in itself, transform the story that’s being told.
Just imagine: the story of that I’d been telling myself up to then was one of a girl who hadn’t been able to achieve her dreams, nor any measure of ‘success’. It was a story of failure, missed opportunities, and thwarted ambitions. Yet simply by starting in a different place, the story became entirely new. Now it was the story of a woman who had the courage to leave everything, to take a gamble, and to experiment.
It was a revelation to me. Since then, the whole idea of being able to alter the story we choose to tell ourselves has become something empowering. It’s changed the way I look at myself, and at the world. Now, in every new place we visit, I look for narratives. Whether personal or historical, the ones that interest me are the stories that people have used to change the way the world sees them.
Often, we look at the things out there that seem to thwart us, and keep us from our goals. Usually, those circumstances are hard to change. But the thing that we can always work on is our perception of ourselves. Of course, we’re all limited by some aspect of our individual situation. But within that, we still have options.
Choosing happiness and fulfillment is as simple as doing the thing that you love, becoming what you want to be. It might not be aligned to material success at first, or ever. Who cares? In the end, that’s what traveling and blogging has taught me. That we’re the writers and editors of our own story.
We are whatever we choose to be. Once we know that, and live it, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world takes notice.