My mum will tell you that, as a little girl, I loved to read. I was all about books and getting lost in stories. I remember being in Grade 6 at school and being really excited for English lessons, I used to love when they’d ask people to read out loud from a book. I loved being chosen and reading it out really carefully, savouring each word of the story. I’d snag my mum’s Women’s Day magazines and read the weekly short story in the back, not just reading the story, but analysing it and working out what I liked and disliked about the way it was written. I wrote my first short story in Grade 6 and entered it into a writing competition through school and I won! It felt amazing.
Even though I knew I loved words, writing and everything to do with learning about English and language, I didn’t really know it was a career option or could be part of my future. When I thought of my future I just kind of blanked, which is how I found myself going to University for a few weeks, with no idea of what I wanted to do with my future, in a course I had no connection to. I dropped out and started working, moving through a few jobs and finding no inspiration or connection to them either. Eventually, I found myself working at the office job I often describe in my personal blog posts.
That job was a sure-thing. It offered a great career path with room for continuous growth as well as great pay, job security and superannuation. It was the kind of job you can get into, settle in and just cruise for the next 30 – 40 years without even thinking about it. Which is exactly what I started to do, just cruising, going to work week-in and week-out, kind of oblivious to how quickly time was going by and the feeling of restlessness growing inside me.
I guess it kind of hit both Matt and I at the same time, which is incredibly lucky. We had gotten to the point of our relationship where we were talking about getting engaged and taking all those logical life steps that people take. We started looking to buy a house, spending our weekends visiting open houses and talking to banks about loans. Finally, we found the right place for us; a big apartment in the city. We put in an offer and it was accepted, so we went to the real estate agent’s office and signed the contract. By the grace of the universe that contract fell through and, immediately after it did, both Matt and I snapped out of this haze we’d been under. Both of us realised we had no idea what the fuck we were doing or why we were doing it. Neither of us wanted to be locked in one place, tied to a mortgage for the next 25 years of our lives.
So, within a few days of that happening, we decided we needed to get out of Brisbane and out of our comfort zones. The best way to do this, we surmised, was to move to London. The time passed quickly as we made all the necessary arrangements and prepared to leave. We became engaged and, before we knew it, we were off. Realising we were about to go from an Australian winter to a UK winter, we decided to stop in for a month break in beautiful, sunny Bali.
One particularly boozey night, well into happy hour, Matt turned to me and asked, “What to do you want to do with your life?” I blinked back at him, overwhelmed by the size of the question. Seeing this, he adjusted the question, “I mean, we’re moving to London and it’s a completely fresh start. We can be whoever we want to be over there. So, if you could do anything, what would you do? What’s your dream job? ” I’d consumed precisely the right amount of Mojito’s to answer him honestly, without hesitation, “I’d love to be a writer. A travel writer,” and then, “But that’s not possible. That’s everyone’s dream job.”
Matt was bewildered. In the entire length of our relationship, I had never shown nor expressed any kind of interest in writing or even an overwhelming interest in travel, at least not to the point of desiring to be a travel writer. I explained to him I was embarrassed, that I didn’t think I was good enough, interesting or entertaining enough, talented or pretty enough, let alone deserving, of having such an incredible meaning to my life.
When we arrived in London Matt suggested I start a blog. I didn’t even know what a blog was! Thankfully he had been working in creative industries for many years and knew all the basics of starting a blog. On the floor of our apartment in Clapham, snow falling outside, bundled up in winter clothes and hunched over our laptop, Little Grey Box was created.
People often ask why it’s called Little Grey Box (LGB). I don’t think the answer is all that interesting, but I guess it has a lot of meaning for me. At the time of creating it, I had no idea what LGB would be. It was just intended to be an outlet for me to write and do what I love, so I wanted to choose a neutral name that didn’t lock me into any one genre (like naming it Phoebe Bakes Cakes or something). It was incredibly important to me to choose a name I loved. I don’t know if you ever experience this but, like I mentioned at the start of this story, I have a real connection and love for words. So, I chose words I love…. I’ve always loved the word little, I use it in just about everything I write (it’s a favourite word of mine), I also love colour words and words with a solid-sounding structure to them or onomatopoeia-ish. Little Grey Box was the perfect fit.
It’s funny, you know, because every time I tried to do things in my life that didn’t really align with what my heart wanted, it just never felt right or went anywhere. It was always hard, it stalled, it was a struggle and I just felt… yucky. The second I started that blog, it felt amazing. I never thought I could live a life without that ‘yucky’ feeling in it, I just thought that was what being an adult was; pushing through the shit because you just gotta. It’s part of life. One of the most profound things I’ve learned through LGB is that line of thinking is absolute B.S. It’s insanity and it’s programmed into us, hard!
So, I’ll leave you with this. Don’t suppress your passions. Don’t let your self-doubts, embarrassment, fears or other worries get in the way of what you love and truly want to do. Let them out, share your true dreams and desires with those you love and trust. Be open to having a life you love and following your heart. When you do, anything is possible.
Watch: our ‘Not your average luggage review: the Lojel Lumo’
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.