It’s Not ‘Fucking Up’: The Power of Sharing My #MeToo Stories as an Influencer

I still remember hitting the publish button on the first blog post I wrote about sexual harassment and travel. I remember the rush of adrenaline; a mix of excitement and complete panic as I pushed my story and feelings out onto the internet and in front of the eyes of complete strangers. How would people react? Would others relate? Or, would I be berated for my choices and accused for falling victim to my perpetrator? I could only wait and see.

The comments came in steadily over the next couple of days and as my inbox pinged with notifications I started to worry about what I may read. However, my panic dissipated at the thoughtful words that popped up on my screen; confirmation that I didn’t over-react and praise for how I handled the situation.

Along with those public comments came private messages thanking for me for being so open. Some women even used it as an opportunity to share their own stories, many of which were similar to mine. Despite the terrible subject matter, I couldn’t help but be excited as I received these messages. I was thrilled that not only was it ‘OK’ for me to tell my story, but it was actually applauded. I felt confident in my decision to share; proud that I had maintained true to myself and my audience.

Until I got one specific private message.

At the time that I published this particular blog post I was still a new to the digital world. My travel blog, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel, started as a journal-type blog so friends and family could keep up with my adventures. I had a knack for getting lost and was a magnet for disaster; all of which made for entertaining stories.

But, as I continued to blog and make connections in the industry I soon learned that blogging could, in fact, be lucrative and that I could one day make an actual living from my site. It sounded like the dream life and I was eager to make it happen.

During this time, I was also online friends with a particularly successful blogger. A woman who had grown her blog rapidly and was landing press trips and paid opportunities within a year of launching her site. It was pretty impressive and she was kind enough to help me out with some tips and advice on how I could do the same.

She became my unofficial mentor and I was grateful for her interest in helping me grow and succeed. But, when I shared my story about sexual harassment in Northern Ireland, and how I was so terrified to leave my dorm that night in an un-staffed hostel that I barricaded myself inside and peed in a plastic-lined trash can, she jumped all over me.

“Be careful.” She warned, ‘brands are never going to want to work with you if you write stuff like that.”

I was shocked. This was a woman who had told me she loved my writing style and honesty. Had told me that I had a great personality behind my posts and could absolutely succeed in this industry. And now, when I was being more honest and open than ever, she was telling me to stop?

I’ll admit, I thought a lot about what she had to say. As an aspiring digital nomad I needed to be able to convince brands to work with me. But, at the same time, I also needed to be true to myself and my brand. After all, I was only able to be even considering the possibility of making a living from my blog thanks to my readers. My readers who regularly told me how they loved my honesty and authenticity. Readers who had seen my story and loved that I had gone public and shared it so openly.

So, after much thought and debate, I chose to ignore her advice. I kept my story and hoped for the best.

It’s been four years since I shared that first story. After four years I recognize that it’s not the best written article on my website, nor is it optimized for SEO like a blog post should be.

But unlike my other old posts that have been culled, re-worked, and re-written, I haven’t touched this one. It’s raw and honest and speaks to how I felt at the time. I think it’s important to keep it that way. I’ve also continued to write about my experiences with sexual harassment and travel on my blog, social media, and even for other travel websites. I still hover over the publish button because it’s always hard to share, especially to a world of mostly strangers, but I do it anyway.

The amazing thing is, despite writing those open, raw, and ugly stories, I’ve still been able to reach my goal of having a location independent lifestyle.

I’ve worked with tour operators, PR agencies, and tourism boards. I’ve partnered with various brands and I’ve written for multiple travel outlets, sometimes even about sexual harassment. My honesty hasn’t brought me down.

In fact, I’d argue that it has led me down an even more successful road in terms of my goals with my brand. And nothing made that more clear to me than when I spoke about the #MeToo movement on the closing keynote panel at the 2018 Women in Travel Summit in Quebec City.

I’m not going to lie; I was beyond nervous as I was called on stage that Sunday afternoon. I was a first-time speaker and although I was comforted by the fact that I was being joined by three other incredible women, two of which were experienced (and impressive) speakers, I still had to talk myself through getting on the stage.

After all, there’s a big difference between sharing your story behind the safety of a laptop screen, and talking about it out loud in front of a crowd of about 400 people. But as my name was called and the cheers from my friends and fellow women filled my ears, I couldn’t help but feel a small tingle of excitement.

Yes, this was a huge crowd. But, this huge crowd chose to be here. To hear my story. To listen to my experiences. That was a pretty big deal.

Our hour long discussion was a blur. I shared some stories, answered questions, contributed my thoughts, and listened in awe to my fierce and brave fellow speakers. I remember, at one point about halfway through, glancing at the audience.

I expected to see everyone on phones of laptops (we are digital people, after all), but was shocked to see that the four of us had nearly everyone’s full attention.

I’d known that this conversation was important when I agreed to speak, but seeing how attentive the room was made it really hit home. This wasn’t just an important discussion, this was a needed discussion, and I was honored to be a part of it.

Our panel received standing ovation and we had a number of questions. However, given the time crunch, we couldn’t address them all. But, that didn’t stop the conversation. As we left the stage we were approached by women of all ages, body shapes, and skin colours. Many shared their own stories with me, while others had questions about how to best share their own experiences.

One woman, a mother, just wanted to say thank you for speaking up and being a voice in an industry that her teenage daughters fed into.

It was like I was living in my own blog post; I had opened up and shared and I was surrounded by a warm and supportive community.

But this time it wasn’t just words on a screen. This was tangible. This was real. And in that moment, more than ever before, I realized that I was doing my job.

Yes, being vulnerable was hard. Yes, sharing my stories out loud was scary. But, this made it worth it. My voice had an impact. My stories resonated with others. And as a blogger and an influencer, that was exactly what I was meant to do.

I still think about that blogger sometimes. The one who told me that my honesty would hurt me and ruin my chance at a career. I wish we were still in touch so that she could see me now; living my best life, working with brands, travelling the globe, and now being part of a keynote panel at a powerful women’s conference. That’s something she never did. And she never will. Because the funny thing is, this ‘successful’ blogger who tried to tell me to hold back is no longer around.

But I’m still here.

I’m still growing and my experiences in sharing my #MeToo stories, not just on my blog, and online, but in person at WITS18, has made me stronger and more determined than ever. Bring open, honest, and truthful has shown me that there is only one direction to go from here, and that’s up.

Won’t you come with me?

Hannah Logan, the author

Author Hannah Logan

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