You Will Have Haters

And they’ll be loud sometimes. For real. They’ll get inside your head and make you think you should just be quiet.

I write personal development for adventurous people. I also write about things I believe in, including social & racial justice. This grinds a lot of gears for some folks. It’s political. Well, whoop dee doo– I’m over posting neutral content. I’m over seeing it. I’m over the idea that we should try to appeal to a wide audience. Over. It.

Having an opinion based on your values is way more important than trying to get people to like you.

There was a time when I took everything personally. I can’t anymore.

When you exist on the internet, the one negative comment you get (out of however many) will be the one that sticks, I promise. It’ll be the one you zero in on– the one you let define you. But you can’t let it stick. It’s not personal.

Haters come with the territory when you say anything at all that takes a side. Giving enough of a fuck to take a stand is worth it. It’s not really about you, it’s about a bigger picture, so release yourself from having to take everything as a personal attack. Choosing to stand up for anything says far more about the strength of your character than a few (or even a few hundred) negative comments.

I wear my values boldly because I believe that’s how you get shit done. Anyone can tell me that my values or beliefs are wrong, but that doesn’t mean they are right in their accusations.

You do not exist to make other people feel comfortable. Your actions speak to your priorities. What do you care about, and are you speaking up about it? Standing up? Showing up? When you decide to do so, I’m on your team.

I have been called many names on the internet– some that I am not even comfortable repeating. But it’s the internet. Is anyone surprised?

Getting hated on means I had something provocative to say in the first place. Many agree, some will not. It is hard to have a peaceful conversation with someone who is determined to bring you down. So if that isn’t going to happen, let it go.

When you live in your truth, people will disagree with you loudly and rudely, online and in person. You cannot let this dampen your spirit or dim your light. More people need your ideas, your vision, and your love more than you will ever know.

We have to give a fuck about things that matter, and we’re always going to get hate for it from someone, somewhere.

And I guarantee that amidst any negativity, there will be a day when you will get an email or comment that simply says, “Thank you for speaking up.”

It will be the only reminder you need that now is not the time to be silent.



Photo snapped by Adaeze Azubuike.


Say Something More on Instagram

Instagram has become a part of my daily life. And what a sentence, what a weird sequence of words to watch myself write.

Over the past year, thousands of people decided to follow along with me on Instagram, on this little app you scroll through when you’re in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. On this thing you look at when you’re not looking at the other person in the elevator. Thousands of eyes chose to include my content in what they want to see.

I am flattered that people like my photos, but what matters to me is the story. And that somehow, that story teaches someone something, or asks someone a question they’ve been asking themselves but didn’t have the words for.

I hope that what I share on Instagram is not only a window into my life, but a voice that says, “You Are Understood.”

This hits me deeply.

I want to talk about life. I want to talk about the people and places that have changed me. I want to talk about what made me feel something so hard my face turned red and my eyes watered, and the hair on my arms stood up like I was about to be struck by lightning. Because that stuff is electric. It is. Not just in feeling, but in the way it moves through you and anyone you touch.

I want to talk about travel; what I felt on that winding road or distracted by that untimely romance.

I want to talk about my experience and my fear and my struggle– sometimes in equal parts and sometimes not.

I want to talk about learning constantly, and assure you that perfection does and does not exist at the same time, because whatever your experience is in this very moment, is already whole.

I want to talk about how improbable it is that you and I are here, how the events of our lives have unfolded, and how this ride will never stop or slow down; how it feels to be on it as it goes faster than we could possibly comprehend.

I want to talk about what is hard, what makes us feel vulnerable and exposed, bruised or broken, because we learn from ourselves and each other in difficult times.

I want to talk about what is easy, when beauty is everywhere and flows out of me and into me, because it truly does exist every day, whether we notice it or not.

I want to give you something to think about, about your journey, the path you are on and where you have come from.

I want to give you something to smile about, something to cry about, something to assure you that you are understood. That you are not alone.

Words and images are how I choose to tell my story right now, but I live it every day.

That’s just me.

You may use social media as an escape, and if you do, I want you to ask yourself why.

You may not think you have a message. Find out what inspires you instead.

And if you then have something to say, say it.

Use your platform, whatever the size, for something you believe in.

Tell your story, the one that brought you to this point. You choose the medium. Those who matter want to see it through your eyes.

Say something that made you laugh. Say something raw and vulnerable. Say something ugly or beautiful. Say something that surprises you. Say what you are thinking; say what you thought yesterday and give yourself the permission to be constantly vulnerable and constantly changing.

So Instagram is an app. So it lives just on our phones, on these little devices that keep us plugged into so many things that don’t really fundamentally matter. So whatever you are saying, make it matter.

And have the courage to say something. Because our world is rapidly changing at every moment, and it needs you to speak up for what makes you feel most alive.

What is the story you are telling?

Featured photo by Jess Dales.


The Reality Behind My Instagram Photos

You’ve probably seen my Instagram. It’s full of photos of my travels, the outdoors, selfies with inspirational captions and personal stuff about my life. It’s like that on purpose– I curate my Instagram carefully, and I want my feed to look the way it does. But I hope you know: my life doesn’t look like that every day.

I never thought that was big news to anyone. I assumed everyone knew that social media usually only broadcasts the best or most interesting parts of people’s lives. I think I was wrong.

Yes, this was stunning. But I also hadn’t showered in six days.

In my case, I use Instagram to show photos of my travels and experiences. I aim to be honest and yes, inspiring. Because I find that people want inspiration. My account is Erin Outdoors, not Erin Sitting in Coffee Shops, Erin Making Smoothies or Erin Decorating Her Apartment. So I generally only post outdoor or travel photos, because that’s what my audience wants to see.

There’s a lot more happening than what you see on my Instagram, and that’s why I try to be honest in captions, and why I have this blog. I try to tell the whole story– one that the photos alone simply could not tell.

The night before this was taken, I was camping by myself in the forest and was terrified of serial killers.

The night before this was taken, I was camping by myself in the forest and was terrified of serial killers.

My life is full of amazing places and people. I have a lot of good stories. And it didn’t go this way just by chance; my life is the way it is because of the choices I have made. Choices I want to empower you to make, if you want to.

You might know that I’m currently wrapping up a solo road trip across the Western US and a bit of Canada. I’ve been on the road for six weeks, and have seen some incredible stuff. I’ve also been scared out of my mind, eaten PB&Js for every meal to keep costs low, and slept in countless Walmart parking lots. I’ve been lonely, I’ve felt lost and questioned everything, I’ve been terrified of my future and my bank account.

Beautiful, but when it's pouring rain on the road, I have no warm house to dry off in.

Beautiful, but when it’s pouring rain on the road, I have no warm house to dry off in.

It’s so easy to romanticize anybody’s life based on what you see on social media, but know they have ups and downs too. Because that’s life.

The message I want to send– the message I think is incredibly important– is that you already have everything you need to create the life you want. You have the power to be the boss of your own life, to decide where it goes and what it looks like.

If you look at my Instagram and say, “Wow, I want my life to look like that,” please know that it can. Go ahead and create a life full of Instagram-worthy views, but know that it will be full of less glamorous moments, too.

I want you to know that my life is so much more than my curated Instagram of beautiful photos and selfies. I try to show you the big picture as much as I can. I show a lot of it on this blog. I try to have a sense of humor about the less-than-amazing moments, because they happen… and they are important.

Gorgeous sunrise after a stressful night trying to find a place to camp.

Thank goodness for a gorgeous sunrise. Took this after a stressful night trying to find a place to camp.

Lately, I’ve been getting lots of questions about how I made my travel lifestyle a reality. How have I seen so many places and done so much? Stay tuned. If you have specific questions about my life, where I’ve been, or anything else, please shoot me an email. I’d love to answer them.

If my Instagram account is “#goals” for you, I’m truly flattered and honored, so thank you. I hope you appreciate the whole story, too. I hope you know that there might be a sleepless night or a broken windshield behind that beautiful photo. And I hope that makes it even better for you. I hope me sharing the whole story gives you the inspiration to create beautiful moments in your own life. Because you can.

What’s stopping you?


Deep Thoughts: Socality Barbie is a Mean Girl

If you have Instagram and follow any outdoorsy accounts, you’ve probably heard about Socality Barbie. Socality Barbie is a parody account, satirizing the hipster Christian community Socality for being inauthentic and taking lots of the same photos of waterfalls, trendy coffee shops on rainy days and people standing outside with blankets in absurd outdoor locations.

kinda like this, except we didn’t have a blanket.

Socality Barbie makes some excellent points. She is an incredibly creative idea, and her account is perfectly curated for the purpose of calling out those who are “inauthentically” posting all the same photos in all the same places. It’s true that some images are pretty ubiquitous within the Instagram platform. If you haven’t seen a photo of someone wrapped in a blanket on a beach or drinking coffee out of a battered mug at a waterfall… well, you probably don’t have Instagram.

At first I thought Socality Barbie was funny. But then I thought: Isn’t this a lot of effort to make fun of people?

Before Socality Barbie, I didn’t know what Socality was. I did some research. From what I gather, Socality is a Christian community trying to build relationships through social media to spread their message of love and Jesus. I’m definitely not trying to be a part of their community for all eternity. But I’m not trying to actively make fun of them either.

Socality Barbie is doing a great job at being a joke. But is it a harmful joke? The creator of Socality Barbie is obviously brilliantly creative, intelligent and receptive. If you have that much passion and talent, be funny in a way that doesn’t deprecate someone else. The Socality community is not harming anybody with their posts. If you don’t like it, don’t follow them. If what they are doing bothers you, that’s a reflection on YOU, not them. Socality Barbie is mocking a group of individuals trying to find strength in community, their faith, and redundant folky images (I guess). Why does it matter? Maybe you find strength in burritos. That’s also fine, and doesn’t deserve to be criticized by someone else, because it’s YOUR decision.

looking for burritos.

The world doesn’t need more people who are funny at the expense of someone else. We’re not learning that way. We’re not growing.

When we participate in stuff like this, kids see that this is okay to do. This says “it’s okay to publicly shame a group of people.” This is the same way that cyber bullying is done in schools. Yes, there’s irony in Socality Barbie. Yes, there may be some truth to it. But spending this much time and effort to call out a group of people just trying to do what they feel is right, frankly sends a message that it’s alright (and even celebrated) to make fun of people.

“But Erin, you’re taking the time to criticize Socality Barbie. Why do YOU care so much?”

I care so much because I think this is a greater comment on how our society reacts to things that mildly bug us. We do it with bullying. We disguise it in humor. I am trying to be supportive of people expressing themselves in any way they want to. I don’t care how they do it if it’s not hurting anybody. Socality Barbie is hurting somebody, and that matters. She has a growing following of almost one million people. If her humor was directed at one individual, it would easily be considered bullying.

I’m asking for a little bit of reflection on something that owes its success to criticizing the behavior of others. I agree that we shouldn’t take social media too seriously. It’s healthy to laugh at ourselves. But it’s worth it to look a little deeper.

Do you agree? Do you think I need to chill cuz it’s the internet? Let me know in the comments!