The first blog I ever followed was the result of a google search over ten years ago. I typed ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ into the empty bar, a quote that seems silly in its naivety and tumblr-fame now, but that seemed one of the only true things to make an impression on my then fifteen year old self. One of the first results was a post on a blog called ‘Frida’s Notebook’ documenting the reveries of a UN Human Rights Officer living in Afghanistan. I was immediately enthralled. With a click the whole world opened up to me.
It was no epic fiction, no great novel but a series of entries that, put together, told her story. Laid bare on the screen were her doubts about the work she was doing, glimpses into her relationship with a mysterious boyfriend, photos of the Afghan community with who she was working. My mind was play dough, ready to me moulded and impressed upon and this story had begun to form shapes in my imagination. Frida’s Notebook was a street lamp suddenly lit on a road I was unsure of taking. Her words and life and story, I realized, could be my words and my life and my story too. It ignited a small flicker in myself that yearned to be bigger than myself, to live larger than my life. The truth that this life was open to me, should I dare to take up the offer was made real to me through the sharing of her story online.
Frida had a whole community of other bloggers who shared their stories online. ‘Unraveling’ was one of them – a blog borne through the treacherous seas of bereavement after the death of her boyfriend. There were other women, and yes they were all women, who wrote about their families and their jobs and their desire to be writers or mothers or wives. I had snuck into a grown up party and was not only allowed in, but welcomed into the most private and meaningful parts of their existence. I was completely fascinated and deeply curious as only minds that have not yet lived can really be. Me, in the midst of my puberty and the boredom of adolescence, gifted a portal to the possible universes open to me.
Life was full of the kind of tragedies and joys, dangers and mishaps inconceivable to a high schooler. I walked hand in hand through the unraveling of a life after the death of a lover. I sat alongside life in a war-zone, documenting human rights abuses and working for The United Nations. These were not the removed storylines from the fiction of my novels, from a different time and place quite separate to my own world; no, this was life as it was lived right now by somebody somewhere in real-time. It was a revelation.
You cannot quantify the influence other people’s stories have on your own. At some point throughout the months and years of my reading stories that were not mine, I was given permission to follow and access to observe the myriad of ways a life can be lived. If I could trace the events of my life back to different moments, that initial discovery would be one of them. It reinforced in me the passions I felt to ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ and it gave me a preview of what that might look like.
Before I lived my own story, I read those of others. A decade later and I have been fortunate to live out, and to continue to pursue, a few spectacular what ifs on my own. I continue to move to other possibilities. And I feel the urge to share my own story here. To write about dilemmas and triumphs that are my own and to put it out into the world, in the hopes that it will connect to somebody out there, that people will ‘get it’.
It’s been over ten years since I fell in love with the sharing of stories through blogs, since I felt the thread of my own story caught up in those others told. This is why I have begun to write here, will continue to write here – Toward A Great Perhaps.