The common misconception of social media is that a stranger's life must be perfect based on the grid of squares put forth to the world. The nice photos, the gentle words. The togetherness of the whole business. And not just that.
Perhaps they also have an air of positivity. A sense of grounding. An attitude of confidence. Perhaps subconsciously we think that all of these qualities must point to having money.
Some people will be surprised therefore, that I'm seeking sponsorship for my Bosnia run. I think they equate the sense of me they have online with a false image. One of affluence and abundance. They might feel affronted then, that I would ask for help with my endurance challenge - 'why doesn't she pay for it herself given that she can volunteer and live in the countryside!'
So, I suppose I wanted to say a little more about why I'm asking for sponsorship. And the honest answer is because I can't afford to do this if I don't ask for help.
That's because when I retrained to be a counsellor, I gave up a well-paid job and career to follow my calling to compassion, and I took few savings along with me. I volunteer my time to abuse and bereavement services, more than the hours I do privately. Counselling is not well paid, and the additional writing, photography and speaking opportunities are AMAZING but not going to make you a millionaire. So you do it for the love of people. And the work. Because you are called to alleviate suffering, to work alongside people in their process and journey. Because you can no longer imagine doing anything else. It's entirely my choice.
I ask for support because I'm a low-income earner. I've been fully self-employed for 6 months now and I don't think I'll be paying tax in my first year of trading. I hope it won't always be this way, but for now it is. I am not surprised, nor am I unduly worried. It's my choice and I love what I do. Really love it. I love what I'm building. The whole thing just oozes out of me, occupying every waking moment and passionate cell in my body. But mainly, the money I earn goes directly on fuel for the car, and investments for my work. I'm lucky to have a partner who can carry our mortgage, and pay for our food, for a little while whilst I get back on my feet. We moved to the countryside whilst I was still earning well. I'm luckier than many.
And as I say, all of this is my choice of course. If I wanted to I could go back to the sector I was in before. I went into this with my eyes wide open. And with a smile.
Living frugally has been great for me in truth. I make better decisions about what I buy, I value my money more, and I understand that every penny now counts. But it will only stretch so far. Lightweight adventure gear is expensive, and is a luxury I can't justify without help from well-wishers.
So, why do it all then perhaps some people will ask? If you can't afford it, then you don't get to do it. And I suppose my answer to that is, well I don't think the world has to work that way. I trust that there are people out there with a few more pounds/dollars/euros than I have right now. I trust in the universe to provide, knowing that I'm doing it with an open and honest heart, and not through greed. That I am doing this run for more than my ego. That I'm doing it to learn, and to push. and to extend. I trust that if people have got something from my work online (or with me in person) that they will spare a few pennies to help me on my way. I don't expect it, but I trust in the kindness of others, and that sponsors will know my intentions. This run is something I feel called to try, just as I feel called to supporting people in crisis. It all flows from the same spring.
It's a leap of faith to ask strangers to contribute to my dream, and I hope that those who hold out their hands to me realise how much it means, and that it's not taken for granted.
Likewise, it's not all about money. Far from it. I'm getting some invaluable help with mapping from a new friend (more on that to follow) because there are no commercially available maps of the mountains where I will be running. Likewise, another friend is helping me out with my nutrition and lending me some of the pricier gear that will help me purify water and cook food safely etc. I am also being gifted a few bits of gear by brands I love to start me on my way. More on all of this to follow.
Needless to say, the generosity of others always restores my faith in humans and reassures me that there are people out there who 'get it'; who get me, get my schemes, get my dreams. And who in turn are helping me support others in theirs, whether that's sat in a room together holding a safe space for pain, or walking up hills with people who want to give their cares to the sky.
All in, I hope this clarifies why I'm asking for your support. And hopefully it will bring a bit of needed reality to the social media impressions that we give out without ever even intending to :-)
EDIT: You can sponsor me here, thank you! :)