*Written about my return home after traveling the world for a year and how the idea for BackGetters developed.
It is funny the things that you miss the most when leaving your home country for a year. For me, as soon as I landed back in the States at Miami International, I ran to the nearest shop for Cheetos and a Dr. Pepper. Unfortunately, they did not have Dr. Pepper, so I was left with the difficult decision: classic Cheetos, Cheetos Puffs or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
And that was just the beginning of my eat fest. Back in my hometown, I gorged on pepperoni and mushroom pizza, maple bacon donuts, and tons of my mom’s home cooking.
Making the adjustment of being back in my hometown was definitely not easy. Traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people and doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted had put me in a zen-like state. It was a shock to the system to be around people who were stressed out and frustrated with what seemed like everything.
It didn’t take me long to understand why. When I turned on the news, everything was doom and gloom. Even the commercial for the 6 o’clock news was menacing with catch lines like “Find out what is in your fridge that might kill you…at 6 tonight”. AHHHH!! Tell me now!
And I don’t even want to get into social media. It felt like everyone on there was frustrated and angry and wanted to be heard, but no one wanted to listen. There was an us vs them mentality that was disheartening.
As difficult as it was to get myself out of vacation mode, I knew I needed to start thinking about my next steps. While traveling, I figured that the idea would come to me and by the time I got back, I would know what to do. An idea did develop, but I found myself constantly second-guessing it.
While I was on a bus in Thailand, watching a guy ride by on a motorbike sparked an idea about creating t-shirts with inspirational messages on the back, meant to inspire the people behind you. If you were in a race and had this motivational message on the back, it would encourage everyone you passed by to keep going. I also believed it was important for people to realize how much of an impact they can have. One small positive action could ripple out and affect so many people.
As I worked on this idea and also reflected on my travels, I realized that this is what happened on my trip. There were so many people throughout my journey who supported me and created a tremendous impression on me.
There was Konny on the bus ride to Munich who gave me a pretzel roll, sandwich and bottled water after I realized the bus wasn’t stopping for us to purchase food and drink.
The guy in Prague who shared his umbrella with me as I tried to locate my AirBnb in the rain, even though we did not speak the same language.
The bus driver in Scotland who took me to a stop that wasn’t on his route because I got on the wrong bus.
The girl on the train to Bruges who offered to share her bag of chips with me, although we had never spoken a single word to each other.
The man and woman in Chile who helped me through the complicated process of getting over the border to Peru and onto my bus to Arequipa.
The mother and daughter who invited me to go have coffee with them in Croatia after noticing I was the only one on a group tour who was solo.
The guy in Thailand who allowed me to crash his dinner because I was starving for conversation with anyone.
The friends and family who joined me for portions of my journey, bringing me clothes to trade out and little things from home that I needed or missed. These are just a few of the countless people who were there for me along the way.
Every single person and every single action were touching to me. I felt supported and connected, something I never expected. When I started, the thought of traveling around the world by myself made me nervous and fearful, but the people that came into my life changed all of that.
I knew what the mission for my business would be. I wanted everyone to feel how I felt on my trip. I wanted everyone to feel supported and uplifted, like someone had their back. Like there was someone they could count on. Who doesn’t want that? And with the divisiveness that seemed to be growing every day, what better time to start this than now?
I already was a witness to how small actions can make a big difference. So why not start with a t-shirt? Messages can be powerful, and they can spread quickly. I wanted people to feel the responsibility of looking out for one another every time they put on that t-shirt. And I wanted everyone who read its message to feel that support. I wanted to create a community of people who aspired to have each other’s back, who believed that it was their responsibility to make a change in the world and that they COULD do it. Every single person is powerful enough. So, I created BackGetters.
Starting a business from the ground up in an industry I know nothing about has definitely been a challenge. There is a lot of unknown and uncertainty, but I remind myself that I have trained for this. Ever since taking that jump on the Nevis Bungy in New Zealand, I’ve been following my intuition and having faith that the Universe will catch me as I continue to leap.
I had no idea what to expect on my trip, but everything turned out exactly the way it was supposed to, better than I ever could have ever expected. My business is just another chapter in this book. I continue to have faith that everything will work out, and I am still surrounded by BackGetters, who believe in me and my mission and want to see it succeed.