I Quit: 5 Reasons Why I Can’t Be Your Inspiration Any More

January 13, 2011

I’ve gotten some disturbing emails and blog comments lately. I’m not just talking about the spam comments. (I tend to find the spam comments more heart-breaking than disturbing. Just yesterday, I received a very sad comment from a young man from Africa. “I am a poor man,” Mr. Buypenisenlargementpills explained. “I need money to survive by comment on your blogs.” Who’s heart wouldn’t break after reading that?)

The comments and emails that I find most disturbing are from actual real live people.

These people claim I am an inspiration.

Me.

An inspiration.

For what?

Unbridled cookie consumption?

I’m not bringing up this whole people-think-I’m-an-inspiration-thing to toot my own horn or anything.

And, honestly, I don’t get many comments and emails of this nature.

It’s just that… well…  ummm…. I’m going to have to ask you to stop.

It’s not that I don’t like it. (Or you! I like you a lot! I do!)

I’m honored…. Flattered, really.

I mean, it’s lovely getting emails and comments telling me that I’m inspiring. Even though I, frankly, can’t figure out what these people are talking about. Have these people read my blog? Don’t they know I spend the majority of my days binging on potato chips and watching Law & Order re-runs? Maybe it’s like one of those weird reverse-psychology motivational things — like that desire you get to suddenly clean out your house and donate everything you own to Goodwill after watching an episode of Hoarders?

It’s just that I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m really bad at this inspiration thing… like really bad.

I’m sure you could do a lot better than me, inspiration-wise. I mean, look at me! In the three months that I’ve lived in Thailand, I haven’t learned a word of Thai but I’ve tried every single cookie on offer at my local Tesco Lotus. What kind of inspiration is that?

I mean, there are whole lists of people who are much more inspiring than me. There’s this list of inspired blogs or that list of inspiring bloggers. And, to prove to you how truly uninspiring I am, I assure you I am not on either one of those lists!

Or, hey, there’s this compilation of uplifting quotes from some travel bloggers about their “defining moments.”

As for me and my “defining moment”?

I got nothing.

Still not completely sold?

Still doggedly reading this blog post even though I’ve conveniently pointed you in the direction of motivational travel bloggers who actually, umm, travel and don’t spend their days locked in their apartments eating cookies? (Sheez, what’s a girl have to do to get you people to leave her alone, already?).

In that case, I’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of reasons why you need to stop using me as your inspiration right now. (Pretty please?)

1. It’s not you. It’s me.

You see, I didn’t really go on this trip to inspire you,

I went on this trip to inspire me.

Back when I first hatched this plan to take a year off (or two… or five), the idea was that I would travel and volunteer around Asia and do a whole bunch of cool things (and by “cool things” I’m usually talking about eating donuts).

And then I would be inspired to write a book.

Well, it’s almost a year later, and I can’t say I’ve gotten much further on that whole book thing, but I have gotten lots of writing done.

So, yeah, I’m all about being an inspiration… but only for myself, okay?

I know that sounds terribly selfish of me, but I am the terribly selfish sort. I go to the movies on my own because I don’t like to share my armrest. (And, Lordy, don’t even ask me for some of my popcorn!).  I don’t donate my money to charity – I donate it to potato chips and airline tickets. I don’t even give away my time to very good causes. My current volunteer teaching position is the only attempt I’ve made at being a do-gooder – my other volunteering positions have resulted in my polluting bodies of water with tractor tires and varnishing strands of my hair into the woodwork of a sailboat.

So, if anything, I’m a really crappy, selfish source of inspiration. You could do better than me… a lot better. (I’ve mentioned the lists, right?)

2. It’s (not) a hard-knock life.

I would simply love to have some awesome, tear-jerker of a life story to share with you right now. I mean who doesn’t love a good tale of overcoming obstacles and beating all the odds?

But the fact is I grew up in a comfortable, stable home. I’m no hotel chain heiress, but I never had to beg for porridge or anything. (Although, I did on occasion beg not to have to wear my sister’s hand-me-down jeans. Sheez, what’s a girl have to do to get her very own pair of Jordaches?)

I’m well-educated.

I’m healthy and possess all my original limbs. (Even if my original limbs can’t dance for nothing).

I’m single and independent.

And I’m… ummm… white. (Yeah, yeah, I know this shouldn’t matter, but it does. The fact is that being a white person in this world gives me a lot more privilege and opportunities than, frankly, I really deserve.)

Because of all these things it’s been relatively easy for me to pick up and move my life overseas and then for me to continue moving that life every couple months… or years… or whenever I get inexplicably bored and decide that some other, new fancy country will make me happy.

I meet people everyday who have had to overcome things I can’t even imagine: racism, poverty, imprisonment, hunger, physical disabilities, crippling illnesses and abusive childhoods. These people have persevered and changed their lives.

These people are inspirational.

Me?

I’ve overcome a few all-you-can-eat buffets in my day. And, once, I watched the entire DVD box set of 30 Rock Season 2 in a 24-hour sitting. (But I have a feeling these don’t really count… do they? I mean, things got pretty dicey there during my twenty-fourth hour of DVD-watching. My pajama pants had fused to the couch, and I had the darndest time locating the remote control under that huge pile of cookie wrappers on my coffee table.)

3. It’s too much pressure.

This past weekend, a friend of mine from my hometown was visiting Chiang Mai. She had arrived in Southern Thailand three weeks earlier to meet her boyfriend, who has been living in Phuket. By the time she had arrived in Chiang Mai, she was sporting a shiny new engagement ring and a shiny new life plan: she would finish up school, quit her job, defer her loans, give away her cats and return to Asia in the Fall to take a year off and write a book.

“You’re my inspiration,” she declared.

I promptly started to have an anxiety attack.

Sure, it’s one thing for me to ditch my own life, career, apartment and the occasional housecat in the futile attempt to make my life magically better. Who cares if I end up destitute and living under a bridge? So what if I have to start selling the fillings in my teeth for pocket change because I frittered away all my savings?

But I simply can’t take responsibility for someone else doing the same.

What if things don’t work out for her? What if she ends up destitute and broke? What if the boyfriend doesn’t work out and the cats refuse to love her when she comes back? What if, like me, the book never happens?

Whose fault is that?

Mine, people. It’s my fault.

That’s too much pressure, man.

4. It’s not my job.

A couple weeks ago, a popular travel blogger posted a piece entitled “The World is Boring.” The post came off as ranty and curmudgeonly and resulted in a huge storm of angry comments and Tweets from readers, and, shortly thereafter, the blogger took the post down.

I can’t say I totally disagreed with the author. I mean, the world can be boring sometimes. But, hey, I like boring.

One of the complaints about the post that kept on surfacing in the comments and tweets was that readers felt the piece was uninspiring and potentially discouraging for new travelers.

When someone on Twitter accused the blogger of not doing his job of “selling travel,” he responded that this wasn’t his job.

“My ‘job’ is my blog,” he wrote, “and my blog is simply my thoughts and feelings beyond practical tips.”

He kind of forgot to mention that, in addition to his “thoughts and feelings,” his blog also has a whole bunch of ads for things like travel insurance and hotel booking services. Oh, yeah, and he uses his blog to shill an e-book entitled “Secrets to Successful World Travel.”

So I would think that inspiring people to travel would kind of land somewhere in his job description… no?

I don’t sell e-books. (And be happy I don’t. The last thing you need is for me to blather on and on about cookies and pants for a hundred pages and then charge you for it!).

I don’t have any ads on my site yet. (Although, I think we can agree that an ad for Oreos would look pretty nice in my sidebar. Anyone know someone who works at Nabisco?)

I’m not selling any travel goods or services on my blog. So, I can honestly say that the business of travel inspiration is most definitely not my job.

Therefore, I’m off the hook, right? I can quit now, right? I don’t even have to give my two-week’s notice or anything because it’s not like it was even my job… right? (Please, tell me I’m right.)

5. I’m really bad at it. (But I know someone who would be perfect for the job).

I’m not a natural-born motivator. I’ve never been the cheerleader type. (Okay, so, true story: I was a cheerleader in the eighth grade… a really bad cheerleader. Let’s just say, if you can’t do a cartwheel, you really have no business being a cheerleader.)

I don’t do gushy. Motivational posters and those emails with long lists of inspirational quotes make me queasy.

I don’t rattle off lines like “follow your heart” or “believe in yourself.”

These things may be easy enough to say, but, man oh man, are they ever hard to do.

Trust me.

It took me thirty-four years to do them.

Last year, I put my practical, professional life on hold for the first time and pursued the life that I always wanted – that of a writer. Surely, if I was the inspirational sort, I could have inspired myself to pursue my dreams a long, long time ago – like back when I could still fit into my pants and remember what my dreams were… you know, before the tequila and heavy doses of mindless reality TV addled my brain and rendered me incapable of differentiating my dreams from the dreams of characters on The Real World.

I still wake up everyday, and doubt myself. And, frankly, I should. I don’t have a book. I don’t even have anything published yet.

I just have this long, blathery blog.

And your comments telling me I’m an inspiration.

I’m honored…. flattered, really.

But, frankly, I think you’ve got the wrong girl. You see, I’m nothing special. I don’t possess any remarkable talents or skills. Heck, I don’t even have ankles to speak of. I can’t dance. I can’t speak five languages. I can’t sew or juggle or scuba dive.

I can’t inspire other people. I can barely inspire myself!

You could do better than me for inspiration… a lot better.

In fact, I think I have just the right person for the job…

You!

Be your own inspiration.

I just know you would be really awesome at this inspiration thing. I mean, how hard could it be? There are lists and lists of inspirational people out there. People apparently consider me inspirational and all I do is eat cookies and whine about pants.

You would knock the socks of my inspiration.

I bet you’d bat inspiration right on out of the park.

You’d totally be the boss of inspiration.

Heck, in no time, people would start sending you emails and comments telling you that you’re inspirational.

And then I would be off the hook… right? (Oh please, tell me I’m right.)

112

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On January 13, 2011 at 5:44 am Magda said:

    It’s a great post. I appreciate and respect your honesty :)
    Magda recently posted..5 top reasons to go on a career break trip

  2. On January 13, 2011 at 5:46 am 1Dad1Kid said:

    Let me just say this: I love your outlook. I wish you were still going to be in Chiang Mai when we finally get there. You’re a total kick in the pants.
    1Dad1Kid recently posted..Keeping It Local- Relatively

  3. On January 13, 2011 at 5:47 am Camels & Chocolate said:

    Ha, that’s hilarious! I kid you not, I just checked my spam filter and the top comment starts out “I am a poor man from the African region, I need money to survive by comment on your blogs / forums or guestbook to make my website appear in search engine.”

    Why you gotta go and hurt the “poor man from the African region’s” heart, Sally?
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Snowcialites Take to the Mountain

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:29 am Sally said:

      Wha? That Mr. Buypenisenlargementpills is such a player. I thought he was only leaving heart-wrenching comments on MY blog. Maybe I shouldn’t have sent him the number for my savings account, after all?

  4. On January 13, 2011 at 5:48 am Lauren Fritsky said:

    So many people start blogs and try to make them into something they’re not. I’m glad you’re staying true to yourself and not getting sucked into the vortex.

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:28 am Sally said:

      Yes, I’m scared of vortexes. I assure you I will stay as far away from them as possible. (That’s why I like to spend so much time on my couch — keeps me away from vortexes!)

  5. On January 13, 2011 at 5:52 am Adam @ SitDownDisco said:

    I don’t find a lot in life inspirational. Maybe those posters with stunning landscapes that say, “COURAGE”, “STRENGTH”, “POWER”, “PERSEVERANCE”. Maybe those… But not much else. And sadly, Sally, I don’t find you an inspiration. But you are funny, write a great blog and are not trapped in a depressing life like many people are. Good on you! No gushing from me… I promise.
    Adam @ SitDownDisco recently posted..Taxis in Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:26 am Sally said:

      You know when people tell you that you’re “uninspiring” it doesn’t sound as cool when you say it about yourself… ha ha! Thanks for the (brutally?) honest comment. Glad you enjoyed the post… and thanks for the lack of gushing.

  6. On January 13, 2011 at 5:58 am FearfulGirl said:

    People said the same thing to me when I sailed the Pacific on a tiny old boat, crew of two, but after they read my book manuscript, all my inspired fans reneged their prior compliments (and backed away slowly) when they learned that I spent almost the entire time laying flat inside, paralysed with terror and otherwise acting very, very uninspiring.

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:25 am Sally said:

      Love the name, Fearful Girl! I just checked out your blog & Twitter profile (not that I’m… uh… stalking you or anything). I think we’d have a lot in common (except I probably would have never gotten in the boat. I spent too much time on a docked sailboat to know I am most definitely not a boat person!)

      • On January 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm FearfulGirl said:

        Yeah, fearfulgirl and unbravegirl sound like a perfect line-up for some chickenshit good times, no? Listen up: I WOULD NEVER HAVE GOTTEN IN THE BOAT EITHER, but somehow … I did. The ocean was always my biggest fear. I wasn’t even brave enough to go on a cruise ship, nor swim at the beach incase I might get my ass bitten by Jaws. But then I went into the middle of the deep ocean on a boat that barely floated, and frankly, I’m still a little confused by my actions.
        FearfulGirl recently posted..12 Steps To Assess Your Health Online

        • On January 14, 2011 at 2:16 am Sally said:

          You know what, chances are I would have done the same thing. I would have said, “Hey, this sounds like FUN” and then shown up there and been like “What the hell? I hate water! I hate boats! I’m going to get eaten by a shark! WAAAH!”
          I sign up for “fun” all the time without thinking. Sanding a sailboat sounded like fun and living in a hostel sounded like fun so I signed up. It wasn’t until I got there that I was like, “Umm, Fun? This isn’t fun! I don’t even LIKE fun! What was I thinking??”

  7. On January 13, 2011 at 6:01 am Galen said:

    You inspire me… to spend this weekend on my couch with a packet of salt and vinegar chips and the first eight seasons of Scrubs (screw you, season nine, you’re not invited. You know what you did.)

    I’m not likely to wear pants, though.

  8. On January 13, 2011 at 6:01 am Peter West Carey said:

    This thing is, you don’t get to pick who you are inspirational to and why. that’s up to them. Don’t sweat it.

    And this “But I simply can’t take responsibility for someone else doing the same.” No one’s asking you to. Just because I say you’re an inspiration, doesn’t mean you need to take responsibility for me. As a matter of fact, you can’t ever really take responsibility for someone else’s actions, especially not from what they read on the internet.

    If someone gets all excited about the life you’re living, even if you think it’s drool, normal and uninspiring, just respond with the simplest of answers, “Thanks.”

    The go watch the A-Team on Hulu.
    Peter West Carey recently posted..Photo Of The Day – On The Lift

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:23 am Sally said:

      Peter,
      This was my way of saying thanks.

      (You all got that, right? I mean I really do want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has ever told me that I’ve inspired them. I’m seriously flattered and amazed and awe-struck. So, in case you didn’t get this from my long, blathery, snarky, self-deprecating attempt to do so, I want to tell you now: Thank you!)

  9. On January 13, 2011 at 6:03 am Cristine said:

    Hilarious!

    Sally, you may think you are inspiring, but you make me want to hoard cookies every time I read your post. If that is not inspiring, then I do not know what inspiring is!! :)
    Cristine recently posted..My Three-Year Plan Sort Of

  10. On January 13, 2011 at 6:06 am Heather said:

    Okay, so my gushing about be a founder of your fan club may have been a bit much, yeah? O:-) But it all comes from a place of loving your writing and your voice. Your honesty and realness is why I keep coming back. And you like cookies…I mean, COME ON.

    As Adam said, good on you!
    Heather recently posted..No Macaron Left Behind- 38-46

  11. On January 13, 2011 at 6:10 am beth said:

    unfortunately that was your best blog yet!

    you might not have changed the world or transformed your life but you gave it your best shot and that is all we can do and nobody will ever take those memories away

    just be warned when you come back to the west people don’t smile at each other for no reason, freely take their shoes off when entering shops, restaurants etc and it is cold and expensive

    good luck with whatever you do next

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:17 am Sally said:

      Thanks, Beth. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I didn’t mean to imply I haven’t transformed my life — I have, really! As hard as this year has been and even though it hasn’t resulted in a book, it’s been my best year yet and I truly feel like I’m closer to the person I want to be (even if that person can’t fit into her pants).
      I’ll only be back in the West for a bit — I go home for a month before heading to China in mid-February. I’ll try to keep my shoes on! Ha ha!

  12. On January 13, 2011 at 6:12 am Ali said:

    Maybe you’re like the Chris Farley “I live in a van down by the river” kind of inspirational? As always I really enjoyed this, you’re very entertaining. You inspire me to NOT go varnish a boat, how’s that? :-)
    Ali recently posted..Cold Weather Travel

  13. On January 13, 2011 at 6:31 am Bill said:

    OMG, Sally. Reading your comments really inspired me to go home and eat some cookies. I was also quite inspired to watch some torrents of 30 Rock. I also felt the inspiration to put on some sweatpants. You truly are an inspiration to my self-indulgent id.
    Bill recently posted..Twinkilocks and the Three Bears CH3Finally

    • On January 13, 2011 at 6:33 am Sally said:

      Well, I’m cool with being that kind of inspiration. But, uh, don’t blame me when you can’t get off your couch because your pants have fused themselves to the upholstery!

  14. On January 13, 2011 at 6:35 am Shannon (mynetdude) said:

    I don’t know you Sally,

    Some of what you’ve said is pretty funny, and some of the things I have read on your block and the tweets from you are pretty cool. Are they inspiring? Yes, but who do they inspire? YOU! Sure some people might get a little bit of “kick” (or inspiration that you so much hate) from you; that does NOT make you responsible for their inspiration just because they say they were inspired from you, I think inspiration is overrated.

    I am in awe of some of the bloggers (including you) and some of it is inspiring, you alone did not inspire me; heck you didn’t inspire me to travel, NOBODY did! Its what I’ve been wanting to try to do for quite some time, what inspires me? Some of your views and entries you’ve made.

    Some of what you have said is also downright harsh, but all that cookie munching just makes that much better :) and I like reading your blog so don’t go away! Why? Even though some of your entries (I didn’t say you) might inspire me here and there not because of travel but because of life in general I don’t hold you responsible for anything that happens to me.

    If someone wants to be inspired and they end up under a bridge just like you, that is their own fault for having too much inspiration in you. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying someone shouldn’t be inspired by you they need to do it for the right reason and it can’t be because of you as that would be the wrong reason.

    keep those cookies coming! :)

    • On January 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm Sally said:

      Shannon,
      Honestly, I don’t hate it when people tell me I’m an inspiration (I mean, who could hate that?), it’s just stressful. Especially when it’s your friend & it’s in person & she knows where I live so she could come find me if things don’t work out for her. Ahhhh!
      Thanks for reading & I’m glad you enjoy the blog.

  15. On January 13, 2011 at 7:17 am Joel said:

    There are a lot of people who inspire, there are fewer who can truly entertain. I’d love to count myself in the latter group someday and you’re already a member.
    Joel recently posted..Postcard From a Tiger

  16. On January 13, 2011 at 7:51 am Emiel said:

    [CHORUS:]
    You’re the meaning in my life
    You’re the inspiration
    You bring felling to my life
    You’re the inspiration
    Wanna have you near me
    I wanna have you hear me sayin’
    No one needs you more that I need you
    And I know, yes I know that it’s plain to see
    We’re so in love when we’re together
    And I know that I need you here with me
    From tonight until the end of time
    You should know, everywhere I go
    Always on my mind, in my heart in my soul

    Thank you! Great post, love it. Next to your personal message you have a way of putting things in perspective!

    And by the way, this song is of course not about you, it’s about ME! :)
    Emiel recently posted..Must-visit in India- Kamasutra temples in Khajuraho

  17. On January 13, 2011 at 9:04 am Rick Jones said:

    After reading this post, you’ve inspired me. Inspired me to write something as awesomely funny as this. Thank ya, kindly!

    kudos, darlin! :)

    -Rick

  18. On January 13, 2011 at 11:51 am MaryAnne said:

    Um, it’s kind of weird being at the bottom of your comment list for once. Helloo out there? I can’t say you are inspiring for me but you certainly are reassuring– it’s lovely to know I’m not the only one out there doing what we do in the way we do it. Carry on as before.
    MaryAnne recently posted..Short film- Shanghai Museum and the Former French Concession

    • On January 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm Sally said:

      Reassuring. I like it. I think that’s what I’ll aim for. I wonder if I can get some work as a reassuring speaker? (Motivational speakers are so last year.)

  19. On January 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm GotPassport said:

    I’m with Bubba.
    BTW: What’s your fave cookies in Chiang Mai? I gotta know! :-)

    • On January 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm Sally said:

      Hmm… to be honest, the best cookies are at Tops. Tesco Lotus tends to have a pretty small assortment (although I do like the Tim-Tams). But Tops has a lot of yummy ones — personally, I prefer the shortbread ones. So good!

  20. On January 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm TravelMaus said:

    And here I am just coming back for the Unicorns.
    That and the fact that you make me laugh more than any other blogger I know! I mean, not that I ‘know’ you but you know what I mean. Right. Just keep up the best blog on the internet. That is all. Thank you.

  21. On January 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm Life In A Pink Fibro said:

    You inspire me to search for unicorns. That’s gotta count for something. Other than that, totally uninspired. Just here for the laughs. And the cookies.
    Life In A Pink Fibro recently posted..My Little Pink Book

  22. On January 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm Ayngelina said:

    Too funny. You know I used to do the advertising for Oreo, too bad we didn’t know each other a year ago I could have scored you a lifetime supply.

    By the way quoting Chicago in the comments section is genius, only trumped by Air Supply.

    I will work on that.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Parades are for suckers- unless you want to change the world

  23. On January 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm Megan said:

    You know, I bet other people were kidding when they said you inspired them to eat cookies, but I’m totally serious about it, yo. I may switch from potato chips to cookies…nah, who am I kidding?
    Megan recently posted..I’m in the sticks!

    • On January 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm Sally said:

      Megan,
      I totally thought about you yesterday (and not in a creepy stalker way, I promise). I was laboring & laboring over this post and it was just not coming together. I’d spent almost a week working on a draft and it sucked. I finally decided to take a break & went to the 7-11 to buy some lunch (potato chips). As soon as I started eating those chips, inspiration struck! I swear, it was eerie. It’s something about all that salt & grease — really gets the brain juices going. Now I know why your blog is so hilarious (your secret is out, sister… )

  24. On January 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm Liz T said:

    What? I never had Jordache jeans!

  25. On January 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm Katie said:

    I’m telling Kitty you referred to her as “the occasional housecat.” :)

  26. On January 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm Skott and Shawna said:

    You might not be an inspiration, but you are entertaining as hell…and judging from the quality and quantity of comments, We are not the only one who thinks this. It is the fact that you don’t take yourself too seriously, which makes these posts so enjoyable…keep it up…here’s hoping that one day we can be as uninspirational as you Sally!

    • On January 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! I would love to see every blogger aspire to be as uninspirational as me… or would I? That might kind of mess with the nice niche thing I have going on.

  27. On January 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World said:

    You’re funny when you’re being yourself. And cookies and donuts and staying on the couch and not learning the local language — I think that speaks to a lot of people that ‘Hey, travel doesn’t have to be all about roughing it out and having deep conversations with the locals’ — and in a way it’s inspiring :)

    Dun worry bout the pressure. I’m so glad I’ve only mentioned as you as ‘funniest travel blogger’ and not ‘the most inspirational’ or else I’d feel guilty for making you feel this way :p
    Jill – Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..Planning A RTW Trip — A Recap

    • On January 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, travel comes in all shapes & sizes (even big girl sizes!). I do rough it sometimes (I mean, the rice farm wasn’t exactly Club Med) and I have been known to take a stab at the local language (much to the chagrin of the locals). But, honestly, I was taking a holiday from all the hard work while in Thailand. It’s been a great break! I think China will be a big challenge for me so I’m glad I had a little down time to catch up on my cookie-eating & my rerun-watching before moving there. Not like I’m going to stop eating cookies or anything…

  28. On January 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm Val said:

    Well, I already buy cookies every time I go to the grocery store and often sit on my couch and watch so much TV that my snuggie is fused to the couch…so I guess I don’t need you as inspiration for that! But I do want to tell you that I love your blog because you seem to be honest, hilarious, and don’t try to tell me how I should travel. I really hope you do get that book done some day because I would love to read it!

    • On January 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm Sally said:

      You have a snuggie? Oh my. YOU are MY inspiration, lady. I’m heading back to the States next week for a month, and I think I’m going to have to pick one up!

  29. On January 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm Terry said:

    On behalf of Mrs. Kitty McPurrpants Thelen-Heubert, I must say that she’s appalled that you refer to her as merely a common “house cat”. She is very annoyed now and must go take a nap to recover from there terrible insult.

    • On January 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm Sally said:

      I was talking about her! I was talking about other common house cats. I choose not to discuss Kitty on my blog so as to protect her privacy (she’s had some problems with Internet stalkers in the past.)

  30. On January 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm Leigh said:

    Sometimes it’s just what you do. (Someone commented on a post of mine that they totally see themselves in me. That they’re a mini (that’s what they said exactly) version of me.) And others see themselves in you and then can see themselves going for it as well.

    Not such a bad thing, in spite of all the protests.

    • On January 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm Sally said:

      I don’t think being called inspirational is a bad thing — I just don’t feel I deserve it. “Inspirational” just seems so… so… BIG DEAL to me. Like I should be doing big, amazing, important stuff to earn such a fancy word.
      I like MaryAnne’s comment — she called me reassuring. That, I can do. Yep, I think my aim will be to become the Stuart Smalley of travel bloggers.

  31. On January 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm Christine said:

    I can definitely relate. I get quite a few “you’re-so-inspiring-how-can-I-do-what-you’re-doing” emails and Facebook messages from both unknown readers and old friends. I don’t really feel like that much of an inspiration–I’m just living my life, and I’m incredibly grateful that I got the life I did (being white, middle-class and educated opens up a heck of a lot of doors). The only thing that bothers me is when people tell me how I’ve inspired them, but then they don’t do anything about it! They just keep doing whatever they were doing beforehand–if you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk!

    • On January 14, 2011 at 2:45 am Sally said:

      Christine,
      Well, I have kind of mixed feelings about the whole “talk the talk, walk the walk” thing.
      I’ll admit it: I’m not so good at walking the walk myself. Sure, I finally bit the bullet, quit my job and started traveling. But there are plenty of other things I talk about that I don’t do — eat healthier, take up yoga, start that book, become one of those people who can actually wake up before noon…
      So, yeah, I’m all about talk. Walking? Not so much.
      I do get peeved when people tell me they’re “jealous” of my life. Jealous? Really? They make it sound like someone handed me this life (really, if someone handed me this life, I would have asked for a different life — maybe a life with ankles!). Yes, I have had advantages which have made this life possible for me. But usually the people who are telling me they’re “jealous” have had the same advantages and could have the same chance to do what I do… they just don’t.
      To these people I say, “You could do it too, really!” and “Please don’t use the word ‘jealous’, it sounds bad.”

  32. On January 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm Andrew said:

    Let’s see.. I have not made rice since I read about your farm experience. (I’m ok with other people making rice, so I do still go to the chinese place around the corner.) I have never varnished a boat. I do wax poetically at bars when on a cruise though. I hope that isn’t forbidden.

    I think I will get chocolate and chips and beer for the weekend. TV marathons sound nice too.
    Andrew recently posted..Missing an N

    • On January 14, 2011 at 2:23 am Sally said:

      Well, I’m happy to inspire a weekend of chocolate & chips & beer & TV marathons! (But only if it’s really bad reality TV shows or 30 Rock. You better not be trying to enlighten yourself with some kind of educational TV or anything like that!)

  33. On January 14, 2011 at 12:21 am Nomadic Matt said:

    Ouch Sally, ouch.

    I’ll just say I don’t shill my books. They are there, you can buy them. There’s no pop ups or flashboxes saying “hey you liked my site? now go buy my book.”

    There are ads yes. But again, they are on the sidebar and I don’t push them. Like a million other blogs out there, I have ads. A shill puts it in your face 24/7. I don’t push them. They are simply there.

    Moreover, it is not my job to sell travel. Travel is not all rainbows and unicorns and it’s dishonest to make it seem so. Why sell an unrealistic image? That would be shilling.

    They are my thoughts and my feelings and people can disagree. But at the end of the day, I don’t care if I sell travel or don’t sell travel or don’t sell an ebook. I won’t change my thinking to paint an image of the world that doesn’t exist to me.
    Nomadic Matt recently posted..How to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling

    • On January 14, 2011 at 2:09 am Sally said:

      Dear Matt,
      If you go back up and read the wee little section I wrote about your post and the resulting fall-out, you will see that I don’t disagree with you. The world can be boring. (Frankly, I’m a big fan of boring, but apparently some people seem to think “boring” is a bad word. These some people are most definitely not me!).
      If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that I, also, don’t sell the travel-will-make-your-life-awesome scenario. Because, hey, look at me! I travel! And I’m about as un-awesome as it gets.
      While I do talk quite a lot about unicorns on this site, I have never once promised someone a unicorn if they go traveling (I do promise unicorns if you follow me on Twitter. Do you follow me on Twitter, Matt? Because I could totally hook you up with a unicorn. I have a hot deal going on with Farmer McGlitter right now.)
      And, I certainly don’t have any issue with you making money off your site. I don’t have an e-book or any ads on my site but it’s not because of some kind of moral high ground…. it’s simply because I’m lazy. Apparently, e-books don’t write themselves. And I have yet to have an executive at Nabisco knock on my door asking me for ad space.
      My issue, Matt, is this: whether you like it or not, whether you signed up for it or not, you are an inspiration to people. (Yeah. I know. It’s like major pressure, right?)
      People read your site because they want to be inspired.
      When you write big fat bummer posts about how the world is boring and people aren’t going to find what it is that they’re looking for when they go traveling, they are going to feel hurt… and then they are going to write meanie, hurtful comments on your blog because they feel hurt & they want to hurt you back. (Mind you, Matt, I’m not one of those people. I didn’t feel hurt by your post. I felt inspired…. to write this post! So, honestly, I thank you for that post. And for not promising anyone unicorns — because that’s kind of my gig).
      The fact is, Matt, that we both sell travel. Whether we like it or not. It’s really in our best interests. If all the world stopped traveling tomorrow, there would be really no use for travel blogs like yours & mine and we’d both be out of job (so, okay, you actually get paid for this job… me, not so much). Sure, I don’t think we need to sell an unrealistic, fantasy world of travel. I’m all about being realistic. But do we have to be such… such…. bummers?
      (Judging from the nasty comments on your aforementioned blog post, I’m thinking not.)
      As for the word “shill” that you take so much offense to in this post, I’ll admit that it’s not the most accurate word choice… it’s a bit extreme, huh? But I like the word “shill.” It sounds better! (Sound familiar, Matt? “Boring might connote ideas that are a bit extreme but it sounded better in the title than ‘the world is the same day to day'”. Ah, Google cache, it’s an amazing thing, ain’t it?). But, I do apologize. You don’t shill your ebook. You don’t have those annoying pop-up boxes (who LIKES those things?). So, yeah, “shill” was a poor word choice… but, hey, as you like to say, it’s my blog and it’s my thoughts & feelings on here and my feeling is that shill is a fun word!

      • On January 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm Nomadic Matt said:

        That world is boring post is actually back up!

        That was the best response to a comment ever. Two things:

        1- “whether you like it or not, whether you signed up for it or not, you are an inspiration to people. (Yeah. I know. It’s like major pressure, right?)” The same could be said about you!

        2- The meanie comments pretty much came from the echo chamber of bloggers.

        Anyways, your comment was amazeballs and you are awesome. There is no love lost.
        Nomadic Matt recently posted..How to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling

        • On January 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm Sally said:

          Matt,
          In response:
          1. Yep. Totally applicable to me.
          2. I’m not sure who the echo chamber of bloggers are (are they related to the vortex someone else talked about in my comments? Sheez, I had no idea travel blogging had such a dark side!) but they sound creepy.
          And meanie comments suck.
          I’m totally all about disagreeing with people (as you might have, ahem, noticed), but I believe it should be done in a literate, respectful way. Personally, I love reading posts that I disagree with because they make me think & they inspire me to write. When I read posts that I totally 100% agree with, all I can think is, “Wow, yep, agreed.” But when I read posts that get me all riled up (like, admittedly, some of your posts do) — that’s when I can write. As I’ve learned lately, inspiration comes in all forms. My inspiration comes from being ornery.
          And glad to hear the post is back up — as you said, it’s your opinion & you’re entitled to it & you shouldn’t have to feel bullied just because other people don’t have your opinion. The world would be a boring place (err… or an even MORE boring place) if we all had the same opinion — and, Lordy, I’d never get any writing done then! What the heck would I write about if I was agreeing with everyone all the time?

  34. On January 14, 2011 at 2:15 am Uncle Ed said:

    You have a novel in your future or “How I wrote my doctoral thesis”: Very good, you have discovered the secrets of life and personal inspiration: cookies, sugary coffee drinks, & sappy movies (I like Stan and Ollie but I can’t seem to find a good collection). Next set a quota, e.g. one coffee drink cookie movie per 7 pages of edited text. You will need 7 rewrites, 200 pages, that’s 1400 pages total or 200 coffee cookie movie drink episode days. Allowing for hospital time from obese couch living and court costs for being thrown out of your apartment, that’s one book per year. The actual secret includes a series of inspired editor to punch up your stuff. This will also fluff your ego, hence propelling you to greater heights of success and obesity. My editor, Mrs. Davis, also used to edit for one of the Star Trek authors and typed 200 words per minute while taking care of three grandchildren :-) i.e. Klingons may have been inspired by a three year old’s screaming temper tantrums.

  35. On January 14, 2011 at 8:41 am Jeremy B said:

    I’ll be honest here. Being true to yourself is inspirational. Sometimes I treat my blog as a journal in which other people just happen to read. Sure, I will write these deep thinking, challenging, philosophical posts about traveling and people don’t realize that the person I am writing this to is me.

    Often I blog about travel to remind myself where I fall short and where I struggle. If it’s inspirational to be human and flawed, then join the party! Like you, I don’t have many hardship stories although I do have my own issues from growing up.

    I admit I have tried to inspire lately because I have been inspired. So if the inspiration that people find are a result of the inspiration you are experiencing, then there is nothing wrong with people grabbing on to that – as long as they see the ugly side too.
    Jeremy B recently posted..Photos of the valley

    • On January 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm Sally said:

      If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that inspiration comes in all shapes & forms — blog post wise. I never thought someone would find my posts “inspirational” as they tend to be very personal and I don’t aim to be inspirational (unless, I’m wrong and blathering about my love of my couch is, in fact, inspirational!). So it’s been a surprise to hear from people who found this stuff inspirational — a good surprise, if a kind of scary-WHY-ON-EARTH surprise.

  36. On January 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm Peter said:

    Sally, firstly great post!

    As I read down your checklist of reasons I put a check by each one. And yes it counts that you watched 30 Rock S02 in a 24 hour sitting (at least we count it!)

    I agree that at times we feel the “inspiration” pressure too. For example one of my wife’s cousins from Canada took a position in Australia and told us that we were her inspiration for doing so?!? first reaction, ahhhh! what if something goes wrong? Then tranquilo sets in and oh well, the something going wrong is what truly gets us to where we want to be right? At least it has for us. It hasn’t all gone right in our paths either…

    I agree that inspiring ourselves was our only intention when we started but now, I think we are the starting line inspirational push for others. Like the pressure or not.

    Keep up the great posts, and thanks!
    Peter

    PS if you find a contact for Nabisco let us know. We should own shares by now….

    • On January 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm Sally said:

      I’m so glad someone else admits to feeling a bit stressed out when someone tells them they’re inspirational. It’s one thing to get the emails & comments (which are lovely really… plus, these people don’t know where I live… so if things go wrong they can’t come hunt me down). But it was super stressful hearing it from a friend in person (especially a friend who knows my full name, current home address and other personal details).

  37. On January 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm Stephanie said:

    You are a role model to me!

    …. but only because I love cookies and I wish I could write as hilariously as you do.
    Stephanie recently posted..Housekeeping Notes

  38. On January 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm ChinaMatt said:

    Can I at least find you entertaining?
    ChinaMatt recently posted..Working for the New Year

    • On January 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm Sally said:

      Hmm… “Entertaining” still implies a little bit of pressure (I mean then I’ll feel like I have to be entertaining ALL the time.) How about “mildly amusing”?

  39. On January 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm ClaudiaOC said:

    Love your blog! Love your writing! You’ve inspired me to tell you to just get the blog entries together, bind them and you have your book.
    :)
    Can´t wait to read your next entry.
    Cheers, from Uruguay

  40. On January 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm Dustin Main - Skinny Backpacker said:

    I don’t often comment, but it’s not because I don’t read your novels. I have to read them on my iphone when I’m sitting around waiting for visas and whatnot.

    Anyways, great post once again, and great back and forth with Matt in the comments. You’re inspiring me to write better comments!

    (… later)
    Dustin Main – Skinny Backpacker recently posted..Photo Essay- Unreal Antarctica

    • On January 16, 2011 at 3:46 am Sally said:

      Awww, shucks, Dustin. I’m going to give you an award for going through the most torture to read my blog! (On your iPhone? Really? That has to hurt your eyes, no??)

  41. On January 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm Theodora said:

    While I do think there’s more money to be made in inspiration than great novels — just judging by the number of life coaches /selling the dream folk flogging products on Twitter — it’s nice that you’re happy not to be inspirational.

    But I do enjoy reading your blog. And so pleased to find it again. Did you move it? Or is my Reader screwed?

  42. On January 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm Akila said:

    Fantastic post, Sally! We get this comment, too . . . that we are inspiring people. It’s very flattering and nice but I often wonder what inspiration really means. Does inspiration mean “hey, I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind — of traveling and eating round the world — and it’s reassuring that there are other folks out there doing this same thing?” If so, then I’m all for inspiring people because reading other people’s blogs helped get us motivated to travel, too. We already knew we wanted to get out and travel for long periods of time but it helped make our goals more concrete when we found out that other people were doing what we had planned, that they faced the same fears we did, and enjoyed the amazing places we were planning to go. It sounds like your friend already had this idea in her mind and by saying that you were “inspiring,” she meant, “hey, it’s really comforting that I’m not the only crazy person who wants to drop everything, travel, and write a book” which doesn’t seem as scary or bad.

    Alternatively, inspiring could mean “you’re the first person I’ve ever heard of doing this-that-or-the-other and I want to be just like you.” And, that is scary. Yeah, I don’t want to be inspiring like that, either.

    • On January 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I guess it’s all about word choice, huh? Some words (aka “inspiring”) are just full of scary pressure. Whereas words like “reassuring” and “encouraging” are a lot easier to live up to!

      Plus, I think “inspiring” connotes a relationship that’s one-directional: I inspire and then you do. I would prefer to think of my relationship with readers & blog commenters & friends & random strangers that email me as more multi-directional. As much as these people claim I “inspire” them, they also “inspire” me by commenting on my posts or emailing me questions or just saying nice things or even saying disagreeing things (as I mentioned to Matt — nothing gets me more fired up and inspired than a disagreement!).

      So maybe we just need a new word that connotes this mutual relationship? Maybe “co-inspiring” or “partners-in-inspiration”? Any other suggestions?

  43. On January 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm Deedee said:

    Aww, I promise you I will not blame you if my cats hate me. And I certainly won’t blame you if things don’t work out with the relationship.

    I realize being an inspiration is a tall order. So I’ll take it back – even though someone who can pack away as many cookies as you do and still be fit is certainly someone deserving of my awe, at least. But I won’t back down from listing you as a source of encouragement. How about I call you an influence? Would that be better? It still starts with an “I” at least. :-)

  44. On January 18, 2011 at 7:47 am Choi Kum Fook said:

    Miss Sally! Reading your inspirational post, it inspires me a lot of inspiring thoughts and subjects. A smoker usually will be obtained inspiration after a piece of cigarette. Sally, the word “inspiration” in the post quite confused me. Anyhow, do I use the word correctly? Or it has other meaning? If capable, I try my best endeavor to meet you in CHINA, probably at the end of the year. Good!? Gracias.

  45. On January 19, 2011 at 6:12 am Zablon Mukuba said:

    ironically i use the same words to break up my relationships. if its any consolation i still find you to be human who is very popular

  46. On January 19, 2011 at 9:29 am Annie said:

    Ok, since you don’t want to be an inspiration for travel can I just blame you for that last 10 pounds I gained since every time I read your blog I think of those double chocolate fudge cookies I really, really must have?

    All kidding aside, it’s all about the honestly, in the end everyone inspires each other and we find that we knew we could do it all along! :) Keep living the dream… no matter how many cookies it involves!
    Annie recently posted..London Fog

  47. On January 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm Micah said:

    You were one point away from convincing me – maybe it’s my unique affection for numbers divisible by 3, but SIX reasons why you can’t be my inspiration may have sealed the deal, but not a measly five. : )

    Having said that, I know what you mean about the inspiration deal. But maybe you might think of it in slightly a different way. There are so many people out there fidgeting life away, stuck in a cubicle, working a job they don’t like and considering themselves lucky to have the chance to do so. I’m preparing for my own RTW trip in May and when I tell people about it they’re so amazed – like I’m the first person in the history of the world to come up with the idea. A common response is “Man, I wish I could do that…” and all I tell them is “You can. It’s not some secret club…I didn’t win the lottery. Just go out and do it.” Too many of these people invent things and ideas that hold them back from actually going out there and doing something slightly radical. So to be able to reach those people is an amazing accomplishment. Wouldn’t you rather inspire someone by leading the everyday, yet offbeat life you do now than by being a published author or speaking 5 languages? It’s easy to inspire people when your book is #1 on amazon, hell it’s downright normal. But you’re doing something different – and that’s what I think so many people find inspiring. Keep it up!

    • On January 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm Sally said:

      6 reasons? Okay, I’ll keep that in mind the next time I try to convince you not to do something.

      Good luck on your RTW trip! Sounds awesome! I wish I could do that… oh wait. :)

  48. On January 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm Ken Kaminesky said:

    Never have I aspired to be less inspirational, than after reading your article. Thanks for inspiring me… Doh!
    Waku-waku, doki-doki ;)
    Ken Kaminesky recently posted..The Navigli or Canals of Milan- Italy

  49. On February 1, 2011 at 11:00 pm TSWariner said:

    I agree with you. I’m starting a blog and even before I read this I thought of stating in “About This Blog” that this blog is for me, sort of like a diary, it’s not here to entertain others. Now, if they find entertaining, fine, but I’m doing it for me.

    • On February 1, 2011 at 11:17 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I think blogs can serve all kinds of different purposes depending on the author’s intent. Some bloggers want to inform, others want to inspire, some just want to blather on about cookies.
      Of course, whether or not your reader will get the same purpose out of reading your blog as you intend him/her to do, is up to your reader. Lord knows, I didn’t set out to inspire, but that hasn’t stopped people from finding me inspirational… or informative.
      I am grateful that people can find meaning in my writing and apply it to their own lives (even if scares the bejesus out of me).

  50. On February 1, 2011 at 11:12 pm dan collins said:

    My gosh you’re so inspirational! Haha just kidding. Cool post though.. Keep up the totally uninspiring work! I fly to thailand in a few hours! Gotta get me some of those cookies!

  51. On February 8, 2011 at 10:12 am Erika said:

    So, I just happened across your blog and this is actually the first post I’ve read (besides your about me page) and I loved it. IT INSPIRED ME. Haha, okay, just had to say it. But seriously, I do think that people can be inspired by you (and definitely entertained, that’s for sure) because you’re NOT one of those people you mentioned. You’re real, you’re normal, and that’s what makes a life abroad much more attainable. Sure, we’d all like to think that we could be as noble as those people Traveling Around the World as volunteers and raising money for charity (those people are awesome), but most people are, well, like you. And it just makes travel that much more reachable. And that’s what’s inspiring. Plus, I love cookies and it’s so refreshing to see someone who likes to travel but also loves lounging, television, and snacks. That’s how I spend a big portion of my time abroad, too! And who knows… you may have just inspired me to buy some more cookies! Thanks, girl!

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