Did you know that December 2nd is dedicated to #WomenWOW, a day to pledge your support to women owned businesses and causes around the world? Over 144 countries unite today to empower 4 billion women and 250 million girls living in poverty. It is a campaign to let all women know that they can dream and succeed, be independent and self-sustaining and that a community of women are ready to support them on that journey. Today is a day to share ideas and solutions on how we can bring opportunities to the women and girls who are suppressed by false ideals. It is a day to recognize the challenges that still exist today and where we can focus our collective energies to see a change in the world, starting with women’s rights in the bedroom to equality in the boardroom.
As a blogger I feel so lucky to have a platform to share my thoughts and ideas freely. Being an entrepreneur I’m grateful for my education and work experience, which allows me to live financially independent. Using our voice to empower other women is what Blogger Babes and I like to call a #BloggerBabesLife.
I personally started blogging to encourage other women to shut out the discouraging thoughts and opinions of those who believed women shouldn’t travel or journey alone. I wanted to show by example that taking courageous steps forward in the face of adversity can lead to many wonderful opportunities.
When I started Traveling-in-Heels in July of 2009, the blog was actually called La Conquistadora, which translates to female conqueror in Spanish. I was a fearless woman full of wanderlust. I had decided to leave behind a life in Manhattan in pursuit of an adventure in Italy and Spain, with not much certainty for the future.
However, one month before my move, I lost all confidence and trust in the world, and fell out of love with the notion of traveling abroad. On April 12, 2009 I swiped my metro card at the 34th street turnstiles in Penn Station, and made my way up the stairs to reach the train platform like I did for every commute home from work.
In a quick unexpected moment, a kick to my chest threw my body in a descent to the bottom of the stairs I had just climbed. One moment my eyes were on the steps below me and the next staring at a stranger who was throwing fists and kicks as I laid paralyzed by shock.
I was released from Bellevue Hospital with minor cuts and bruises. The shock however, stayed with me for days. I tried to figure out why I would be chosen for such a random act of violence. At first I blamed New York City, as if it were a friend who had turned on me.
The blame then turned to myself. Had I worn something or acted out in a way that drew negative attention to me? Was I that naïve to think I was safe as a woman in a city such as Manhattan? And if all this was true, then I was crazy to think I would be safe in Italy and Spain, where I barely spoke the language.
I was convinced that my move to Europe, which was already in motion with my flight booked, and a job and apartment secured, was right out ludacris. For weeks I was scared to leave my own apartment, paranoid of another attack. I contemplated to no end whether I should cancel my trip and move back home to Boston, where I felt safe near family.
Mentally I was a mess, cowering at every social invite to go out. The doctors at the hospital suggested I take advantage of the free counseling for victims of assault. In those sessions, I learned to actually process what had happened with a clearer mind. After a few weeks, I walked away understanding that ultimately shit happens, and that if someone knocks you down, to stand back up, and to stand back even taller. I hated this man for what he had done to me. I wouldn’t allow him to take away my wanderlust spirit and this amazing opportunity waiting for me in Europe.
I decided to conquer my fear of living in the world as a female going at it alone. I embraced the next chapter of my life in Europe full-heartedly and promised myself I wouldn’t let anyone or any fear hold me back.
I kept that promise, and in a few weeks found myself traveling through Galicia, in the town of Coruna, where in the center of the square a statue of a woman named Maria Pita stood. She was a local heroin, praised for her efforts in fighting against the English in the battle of 1589.
We didn’t fight in the same war, but we were two women who decided that we’d conquer anything that stood in our way. We were conquistadoras. And in that moment I decided to start a blog to encourage other women to conquer their fears of traveling alone, and named it La Conquistadora. After three years, I decided to reinvigorate the blog and change the name to Traveling-in-Heels. Whether you’re knocked down by a complete stranger, by politics, or by injustice, grab a pair of heels to stand taller than the hurdles you face.
So today, in celebration of #WomenWOW, I pledge to do my part to empower women to use their voice and to be heard, by making two positions available for female writers to contribute to Traveling-in-Heels. Those interested or who would like more information or to learn how to start your own blog can contact me at email@example.com.
Alexadra Avila, Traveling-in-Heels