A little over a week ago, I received a hurricane of hate from someone that has never met me, doesn’t know me, but is extremely angry about the ideology that I promote, and what I represent.
Most specifically, that I encourage women to travel alone (and even live abroad).
I struggled with the effects of these messages for longer than I would’ve liked. I would’ve loved to have been able to brush them off like they meant nothing.
Truly, the words of an embittered, aggressive, purposefully hurtful person who doesn’t know me should have no value.
But I have to admit that I was a bit scared, and sad, and I allowed my own feelings of self-worth and personal safety to be affected. I also need to admit to you that I’m a very sensitive person, easily effected by cruelty, and some would say overly emotional.
I let this negativity directed so vehemently at me affect my ability to be present and in the moment with the people that I love. So I took a step back and took some time.
I put a mental “pause” on this issue (learned this concept from Lily and Marshall, dear fellow How I Met Your Mother freaks), after giving myself a good long hour to ruminate, writing out my feelings and thoughts (it’s hard to do sometimes but I find it ALWAYS helps me)… eventually coming to a point where I could think only of this powerful lesson of Thich Naht Hanh.
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
Well-adjusted, truly happy, fulfilled people do not purposefully try to inflict pain or suffering on others.
But in this specific case, I don’t know this man, I don’t have the connection to help him in any capacity.
So, where to go from there? What to do? Do I simply let it go?
No matter what ancillary actions I take, I know that for me the most important one will be to take control of the situation in a meaningful way. You can’t control what others do to you, or what happens to you, but you can control your interpretation of the event and how you react.
For me, that means this:
When presented with hate, I always strive to choose love.
In EVERY situation, I try to remember:
Choose love. It’s all about love.
Instead of allowing this one hateful person to set off a chain of negativity (feeling bad about myself, questioning what I’m doing online placing myself in danger, taking out negative feelings on those around me), I know I have to take the opposite action.
I’ll be seeking out and performing acts of kindness, with the specific intention of directing this positive energy towards the angry man who sent the violent emails. While I won’t go so far as to thank him, I will use the powerful, intense emotions that he inspired, and turn them around into something positive and good.
It’s easy to get swept in a wave of fear, especially with the media and especially when it comes to women traveling alone (and especially when you get emails detailing how you’re going to get your face bashed in).
But here’s what I know for certain, and what has been proven to me a million times over: For every one person that wants to hurt you, there are thousands that want to help.
For every one person that sends terrifying, threatening emails, there are thousands that send me lovely messages on email, Facebook, and Instagram. And those are the people that I want to focus on creating a community with, a supportive and awesome place where we can share messages of hope, discovery, and adventure. In all the joy, but also in all the journey, which is not always sunshines and rainbows.
I hope that if you’re currently encountering hate, you can find a way to meet it with love, whatever that looks like for you.
Sending you all love, and light, and big hugs from my happy place (Tel Aviv) on a day that commemorates so much hate and loss, but also so much rising up in togetherness.
**And I promise, this is the last of the emotional, personal posts (for now!) and it’s back on with travel content this week 🙂