“I know all about you” – Garbage.
Today I reflect on something huge, and I know – it is time for change. It feels like I was living my whole life in the public eye. Of course, a blog is global, anyone can view it. This meant that I lost my privacy and my anonymity. This website was a powerful tool, but I sold my soul to you all. I became known even in a bar in Lyon, people recognised me, people read my stories and people I hadn’t met before were sending me emails like they knew me.
“You’re that guy that writes a travel blog” – person in a bar in Lyon.
“Is this the travelling Northern Ireland flag?” – person to me in Lyon. (yes it is)
I used to kind of love it, it’s nice to be noticed and to meet people who read my stories. But actually, I got a bit scared of it all – I had been too open and too public with everything. Guys knew I carried a flag around the world (pride of course) and they enjoyed following that journey, some knew what beers I drank and what countries I had been in recently. Girls knew the colour of my pants, which cities I had backpacked through, where I was, what I had for dinner, they knew too much. I told you everything. I was too honest, too open and not concealed. Some people found it disgusting that I shared my entire story, daily for 9 years.
“I know what to show and what to conceal” – Garbage.
People could tell me what I had for dinner the previous night, and I couldn’t even remember it myself. I wasn’t even thinking about any of this, how much I had shared. I was too busy living. I didn’t realise how much I had shared until recently, a Polish friend of mine, she spoke some truth to me and I didn’t like the man I had become. I made a lot of mistakes and being too public was a huge mistake.
“I’m tired of telling my story” – Texas.
The problem was, I was running a business here. Don’t Stop Living as a business had to be public, I had to promote companies on my site and on social media. How else would I have been featured on the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Belfast Telegraph etc.? I have a degree in Public Relations and an NVQ in Journalism. So for me – publicity was craved and created. I love it all – I said “yes” to every interview. But there goes the mystery. There goes the anonymity. With publicity, came loneliness, fatigue, depression and despair. I didn’t even hide that from you.
“I write this alone on my bed. I’ve poisoned every room in the house” – Richey James Edwards.
I guess there comes a time when we all change. I don’t know if this is a “mid life crisis” for me. I’ve never been married or had children. I’ve been engaged and had about 7 failed romances. It was time for me to realise those romances failed because of me. I was the common denominator. I was the person who thought I was being the good guy. But I wasn’t. I was actually the bad guy, I felt like a monster (though thankfully, my friends got in touch to confirm that I am not a monster). But the good news is, I can change, I can apologise, admit my mistakes and move on from here. There may be those reading this, who I hurt and was wrong about things I did – you will get my apologies in real life, don’t worry. I’m a man with a heart, I’m not going to be a man without a heart any more.
“I’ve been locked inside your heart shaped box for a week” – Kurt Cobain.
So I don’t want it and I don’t need it any more, the publicity. I don’t want to be so public. I want to withdraw for a while and enjoy some privacy. Yes, most people know I am doing this in Gdansk, Poland and I’ll still be blogging, (about places that are obscure and you never heard of) but I shared too much with everybody and it’s all still on there as a back catalogue – my media page is huge and I’ve been on over 300 websites. In the blink of an eye, I can delete all of it – of course I can do that, I can email every website and ask for it to be removed. But I’m proud of the past and my 120 country journey. I just don’t want it anymore. I don’t need it. But I need my friends and those cool people I met on the journey – I need them and I really enjoy hearing from my younger followers – I had some fans in the end and I want them to read my blogs and follow me, but also to see the change in me.
“A change would do you good” – Sheryl Crow.
I walk into Wi-fi cafes in Gdansk, anonymous. I get my work done, have a coffee and leave. I try to understand my local friends here and they try to understand me. It was harder for me. People don’t understand my business about travel and how I love the obscure towns and cities. I don’t write about Rome and New York. It’s boring to me. I write about Balkh, Podjistan, Likeng and Starogard Gdanski. That’s what I do, it’s business and passion for me.
“Will you take me places I’ve never known? I can do that.” – Meatloaf.
But it confuses some people and I upset some friends without realising it. I have upset some of them, especially the girls – they are sensitive and I hurt that. I can’t be a bad person, I don’t ever want to be the bad guy, but I was. I ponder on these things a lot, day on day. Let’s have a nice time. Let’s have some privacy from now on. Perhaps my book was too open. Keep smiling 🙂
“Great God who knowest all our need,
Bless thou our watch and guard our sleep.
Forgive our sins of thought and deed,
And in thy peace, thy servants keep.
We thank thee for the day that’s done,
We trust thee for the days to be,
Your love we learn in Christ thy son,
Oh may we all his glory see”.
-The Vesper hymn.