Breaking Boujee: The Next Chapter of Adventure

Jetsetter Jenn882 views

For personal reasons, I took a four-month break from publishing anything publicly.

Maybe someday I’ll share what those reasons were. Today is not that day. I have kept my personal life separate from my travel writing intentionally up until this point. I don’t plan to continue that, because I know I have more to offer than half-baked city guides like every other travel blogger. But exactly how much I plan to share, when, why, and how — well, that all remains to be seen.

Today isn’t about what happened in this publishing black hole.

Today is about what’s next.

A week ago, I purchased a Dodge Ram 1500 Passenger Van. I named her Gertrude (if she’s naughty), Gertie when she’s good. She came into my life on a whim, with a bare minimum of investment. You may call it serendipity, I call it fate. The stars aligned, and before I even had time to think about it too hard there was a pink slip with my name printed on the back and a set of car keys in my hand.

Our ultimate destination? Northern Florida, for a festival called Hulaween at the end of October.

Our figurative destination? The other side of Boujee.

I spent this past summer back in Ketchikan, Alaska. Here I was surrounded by more of the same special sort of people who speak to your soul. Instant, deep friendships. Lots of learning about life, limits, and how to surpass them. Lots of learning about myself.

My crew liked to poke fun at me for being “boujee.” If you aren’t familiar with this term, here is the song that put this term into the American lexicon:

If you don’t want to listen to a catchy hip hop song, here’s the Urban Dictionary definition of the word:

Boujee; adj. High class, flossin’, ballin’. One who possesses swag. Elite, rich.

I got called this for several reasons:

  1. I’m from Orange County, California. Land of reality TV shows about housewives & wealthy high schoolers, where the median income is seven times higher than the federal poverty level, where McMansions abound, and image is everything.
  2. I’ll admit it: I revel in luxurious treats — things like designer jeans, lipstick that could double as a mortgage payment, and shoes that actually have a heel on them (in Alaska, this is an eyebrow-raiser). We could claim that this comes from where I grew up (it contributes); I also blame the fact that I’m a Leo (yass Queen) and Capricorn rising (quality over quantity is their motto). Plus I feel fucking awesome in red lips and heels, so fuck you.
  3. There’s a part of me that loves to buck the Alaskan trend of beanies, flannels, and XtraTuffs seen all over town. Not because I need the attention (not that I hate it), but because I like making myself uncomfortable. And bucking the norm is not comfortable.

In Alaska, I was considered ‘boujee.’ There was an element of me that bristled at this, because, well, have you read my blog? Bedbug attacks, nine-hour bus journeys, violent food poisoning from questionable street food, days-long treks with nary a shower in sight, taking showers in a bucket, overnights on outdoor furniture because the hostel was out of beds…  Lots of decidedly non-boujee things in my recent past. Hell, part of my job on the boats is to bare-hand rotten fish heads and load them into shrimp pots. I don’t shower for five-day stretches on the reg when I’m working a boat gig. Doesn’t bug me. But whatever, people like labels, people like boxes. That was the box I was bestowed.

So I reflected on what exactly this ‘boujee-ness’ entailed. And I realized that there is still a part of me that deeply cares about what others think. Like most normal humans, I want to be liked. More than liked, I want to be admired. Looked up to. Not because of how I look or what I’m wearing, but if that’s what it takes, then that’s what I’ll do. I worked a career that didn’t fulfill me for nearly a decade because I was so successful at it that people called me fun nouns like ‘badass,’ ‘rockstar,’ ‘hotshot.’ I always knew there was more to me than that, but I wanted to be all the things that might matter to all the people. The right people loved me for the right reasons, but that wasn’t enough.

Sometimes it takes a really big failure to learn that, deep down, you’re so eager to please that you put on blinders to anything else.

Sometimes it takes a really big failure to take a hard look at your motivations for your behavior.

Sometimes it takes a really big failure to realize how much you self-censor. 

Sometimes it takes a really big failure to realize that trying to please everyone means you’re going to fail the most important person in your life: yourself.

I’ve realized I need to examine my boujee. I need to decide which things I do for me, because I enjoy them, or they make me happy on a personal level. I need to figure out what things I do for other people, to the detriment of myself. I need to own my boujee-ness if it’s for the right reasons, and let go of the parts that I’m putting on for show.

So I think I’ve figured out why Gertie is in my life. She’s gonna break my boujee. I’m heading across the country solo — just me, a half-rabid chihuahua, and a giant gold van. I’ll pass through towns I’ll never return to. I’ll meet people I’ll never see again. I’ll meet people who might change my life.

And if I’m mindful enough, I’ll be able to teach myself to let go of the fear of being judged.

So this is my goal for my trip. When I feel that pinch of discomfort, when my confidence fails, I’m going to charge through it as hard as I can. More than that, I’m gonna seek out that discomfort. I’m gonna embrace my inner weirdo. I’m gonna let the freak flag fly. But like, really fly. I’m going to try to explore those moments when self-doubt is the highest. Try to fully embrace self-expression, however that manifests. To not be so worried about the persona, and focus on the person.

Does this mean I’m going to become a hippie that never shaves, eschew my beloved red lipstick forever, and refuse to purchase anything that doesn’t come from a thrift store? Nah.

But it does mean I’m going to stop trying so hard to fit into this box that other people have designated for me for most of my life.

So watch out boujee, I’m comin’ for ya.