Tatev Monastery, Armenia

They say you haven’t really made it until you have haters.

So as of last Tuesday, I guess I made it.

That’s not to say I haven’t attracted some negativity or even controversy on this blog in the past couple years.  I got blasted for packing jeans on my career break trip and someone seems determined to disprove everything I’ve written about my budget in Central Asia. And of course there was that time earlier this month when my post comparing the tourist experience in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan practically went viral in Azerbaijan and attracted a fair number of comments telling me how wrong I was.

But none of those were personal.

What happened on Tuesday was personal and I have to admit, it initially got to me.

It all started when I was taking a peak at my stats for the day. I saw several dozen hits from a website I had never heard of, which of course peaked my curiosity. So I checked it out. What I found was some sort of discussion forum for law students/lawyers where someone had started a new thread for the sole purpose of making fun of me and this blog. And people jumped on board.

They called me a shrew. They called me fat. They called me ugly. They made fun of me for being gluten free even though I have to be out of necessity, not by choice. They made fun of the fact that I run marathons and they speculated that I only traveled the world to have something to make my girlfriends jealous because I have nothing else they could be jealous of. Or that I traveled because I couldn’t find a man and was trying to do the Eat, Pray, Love thing. They made all sorts of assumptions without knowing me at all.

I was close to tears at first because it was all too familiar.

See, I grew up hearing a lot of that. Many of my memories of elementary school and junior high involve being teased relentlessly. I was chubby, I had acne, I had braces, I had frizzy hair. Add in that I was a straight A student with questionable social skills and I was the perfect target for bullies. I’m thankful that the internet didn’t really exist back then – it was bad enough dreading going to school every day and then coming home to deal with prank phone calls that didn’t stop until I took the phone off the hook. When you experience that year after year, it can eventually wear you down, but it can also serve as motivation.

They say it gets better as you get older but it’s not because it goes away.  All too often those 11- and 12-year old bullies grow up to be twenty-something bullies and even forty-something bullies. I’ve experienced some level of bullying at just about every stage of my life, from the junior high classmates who teased me about my acne, to alleged friends who ended up stabbing me in the back, to the boss who made fun of me for being single.  For a long time, I really let these things affect me. I can still remember crying on my way home from a bar after a guy told his friend to stop talking to me because I was ugly – and then wondering every time I went out in the following months whether every guy I talked to was really just thinking how ugly I was. As someone who has always been insecure about her looks, it haunted me.

But here’s the thing: over time, I’ve grown up and grown stronger. And that’s really all you can do. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. Not every guy is going to find you attractive and that’s okay. Not everyone is going to understand the decisions you make in your life and the direction you decide to go and that’s also okay. And the people who go out of their way to be mean and cruel aren’t saying anything about you as a person; they’re making a statement about themselves. They’re projecting their own insecurities and trying to build themselves up at your expense. And the ones who do so on the internet, hidden behind the veil of anonymity? They’re not worth a minute of your time, much less your tears. It took me a long time to realize this and I think the sooner you realize it and really internalize it, the better.

I quickly got over last Tuesday’s incident, but not without venting about it on Facebook first. The response I got from my friends just affirmed everything I said above and some comments even brought me close to tears again, but for good reasons.

If anything, I now find it kind of amusing and almost flattering that someone would find the fact that I run marathons, avoid gluten and quit my job to travel is so incredibly offensive that he had to roast me on the internet about it.

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33 Responses to “Haters Gonna Hate”

  1. if im going to be honest, it really irks me that people think it is remotely acceptable to sit in these troll forums and harass and torment them from behind a COMPUTER SCREEN. what a freaking coward!

    it is one thing for us as bloggers to write a nasty thing about a city and expect the crap we deserve to get from those who we may offend (ie: everyone in astana for me). BUT…when someone trolls around and is nasty for something as lame as you training for a marathon or being gluten free, then things become a problem.

    im pretty good at tuning people and hate out. im very fortunate. i was never really tormented growing up (except for my last name ‘starr’ which people thought was cool to make fun of when i was cool until my dad showed me how cool my name actually was). so, it reallllllllly bothers me when friends, even online friends, are harassed online for stupid crap like you were in these forums.

    ok so away from all of this, but im a firm believer that people only harass people to make themselves feel better about their insecurities. it’s true. no one with confidence or loving their own life would DARE say those things about or to someone. you’ve traveled the world and seen things they can only DREAM about behind their closed miserable doors and lives.

    keep doing what youre doing because i can ASSURE you…you have 1000 admirers for every pathetic hater out there. i promise :):)

    • I know – that’s what got to me, was the personal nature of it and going out of their way to share my site with others and inviting ridicule! But yes, it’s all about their insecurities and I know I can rise above it. :)

  2. They’re comparing their lives to yours and have to insult you to make themselves feel better about how miserable they are.
    Caroline Eubanks recently posted…Getting the Most Out of Your CruiseMy Profile

  3. I agree with Caroline. They are just jealous that they are too lazy to get off the couch and attempt a mile run and/or that they can’t take a career break for something as daring and adventurous as Russia.

    Any chance we get the website name to visit? I swear I will be nice. Wait…that will just bring up their traffic stats. No thanks.

    • Haha no…I thought about naming it at first and then decided it’s not worth it to give them more attention and pageviews. :)

  4. Wow, crazy stuff Katie! It is amazing how so many people can put so much time and effort into putting down others – even people they don’t know – instead of just enjoying life, but I guess their lives aren’t exciting enough. Keep doing what makes you happy…!
    Red Hunt recently posted…I Went to Machu Picchu and Had a Good TimeMy Profile

  5. Huh. I’ve only been following you for a bit but I’m seriously confused by this. That people would take time out of their days to make fun of someone they don’t even know? Reeks of jealousy and too much free time if you ask me. Like you said, those people are always going to exist but all you can do is hold your head high and live your own life.

    Love reading your stuff :)
    LaReesa recently posted…Spicy baked chickenMy Profile

  6. So sorry this happened to you Katie. My biggest pet peeve is bullying!

    There are some horrible people out there and I hope those idiots are reading this post and feeling ashamed of their behaviour. It’s disgusting!

    Please never listen to anyone who spends their time being horrible to others on the internet. They must live sad little lives!

    Keep living your dreams and feel sorry for the haters! Sucks to be them! :)
    Helen recently posted…Life Lessons Learned from the OscarsMy Profile

  7. Sadly, this is a case of cowards who have sad lives and do not have the balls to say these things to your face.
    Steve recently posted…February – A ReviewMy Profile

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about this, what a horrible thing to discover :-(

    I’m amazed that some people are so nasty that they would create an entire site to attack somebody that they don’t know. I agree with the others, it is all down to mean-spirited, bitter, jealousy. I’m pleased that you have developed the strength to rise above them.

    Thanks for being so honest, and keep your head up :-)
    Runaway Brit recently posted…Dogsledding in Lapland with Arctic Husky AdventuresMy Profile

  9. Oh, that is just too bizarre. I’m so sorry you experienced that. Sounds very immature. I wish people would be more positive!
    Jenna recently posted…Where to See the Art of BrazilMy Profile

  10. I think it is disgusting that people think they can do this. They are cowards and jealous of the great life you have made for yourself. I really honestly hope you never have to deal with this kind or any kind of bullying again.

    I spent years being bullied throughout school but have come out the otherside a strong independent women who doesn’t stand for bullying in any form. I am so glad there are others like you and me out there so we can stand together.
    Jen recently posted…Destination of the Week – LondonMy Profile

  11. I agree with Jen! It’s revolting that people (PLURAL!) find it okay to do this kinda stuff.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My blog just started out and I’m hesitant to share it publicly among some of my friends for fear of what they would say. Your post, though, gave me the courage to send it out and broadcast it all over my personal Facebook wall.

    As long as I’m happy, who cares what the haters say, right???

    • I was super hesitant to share mine initially too – it was almost more scary sharing with friends and family, but it’s been amazing to see who has come out of the woodwork to follow along!

  12. Sorry for the nasty experience. It’s so strange. Clearly it has everything to do with them (losers) and nothing to do with you (except jealousy because, clearly, you are not a loser!). Hang in there and keep living your life on your terms. . . and keep blogging.
    cindy recently posted…Sunset from the Rooftop, Essaouira, MoroccoMy Profile

  13. Isabelle says:

    Those people have nothing better to do with their lives? I’m often flabbergasted by the fact that some people spend so much time commenting and tormenting others. Why don’t they just use that time and do something creative in their lives? Or their life is so boring that they have to live through yours? It’s very sad…

  14. I know you know this already, but don’t believe a word of what the law student and lawyer population think about those of us who choose different paths. Many of them are miserable and afraid to admit that change is needed. You are living your life in a way that makes you happy, and for that, you are one hundred times better as a person than they are. Haters gonna hate.
    Amber recently posted…What is it Like to Live in Bali?My Profile

    • Oh, I know! It’s actually kinda funny – I did a Google search of the website and it turns out it has been targeted for being shut down because it’s totally anonymous and the posters tend to spew racist, sexist crap. And one person did stand up for me, saying he thought they were just jealous sitting in their big firm offices because I have way more of a life than they do. :)

  15. Let them sit behind their computers! It’s their highest accomplishment. People talk badly about other people when they’re JELOUS…. you go and do your thing, we all love you 
    Yana Kovarsky recently posted…6 fun winter sports (and a great way to lose that winter fat…)My Profile

  16. What pitiful people they are. Not worthy of attention. I’ve been dipping into your posts for several months now. I’ve never met you. But that people halfway round the world who don’t know you think it is worth their while reading your blog, because it is interesting and because you are interesting is answer enough. You’re doing great just as you are.
    Peter recently posted…Travels in northern TajikistanMy Profile

  17. Seems like some people have too much time sitting around than to go running or traveling. And there’s nothing wrong with needing to eat a gluten-free diet. When you have an allergy, you have an allergy! We get requests from trekkers asking for gluten-free meals while they are climbing Kilimanjaro anyway. Some people have peanut allergies or other allergic reactions to food and it is not a sin. I really like your blogs, Katie! I haven’t come across someone who has traveled through Eastern Europe so extensively. Keep up the good “job” you are doing with your travels, running and blogging!
    Mzuri @ Amani Afrika recently posted…Fifteen Things You Should Consider Packing for Your Kilimanjaro ClimbMy Profile

  18. I have been extremely fortunate that this has not happened to me, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. I was bullied as a kid though and will never, ever forget it. So sorry you had to experience these jerks and their mean comments! I am looking forward to meeting you at WITS!
    Jan Ross recently posted…Why Complain About Winter? Three Michigan Resorts to Enjoy a Cozy GetawayMy Profile

  19. Dear Katie.
    I am very proud to meet you and I hope and wish you all the best! You are great person and you made a lot out of your life!

    Keep it up!

  20. I just stumbled onto your site, this is the first post I’ve read and I just wanted to comment on how incredibly familiar your words felt. You’re living what I believe to be the ultimate dream, and as I work towards being able to live it myself I’m glad that even with the venom that can spring from jealousy you’re able to step away and recognize it for what it truly is and continue on with your life.

  21. Eurgh, I hate online bullies! I was bullied as soon as I went to secondary school, so know what that feels like. Now, I won’t tolerate it whatsoever and will call people out on their bullshit.

    Anyway, who even DOES that kind of thing? I can understand disagreeing with an article, but what that person did was inexplicable and cowardly. If you don’t like a website, there’s the little ‘x’ button on the tab that you can just click on. Sheesh. The moron needs a backhander across the face.

    Just know that you’re a wonderful person who a lot of people can relate to, and you inspire people through your adventures. Haters are going to hate, and that hate is going to keep them miserable.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted…The Difficulties Of Dating As An Expat-Slash-TravellerMy Profile

  22. I already let you know on Facebook how much I admire you (and how many people do), so all I’ll say right now is just be thankful that you aren’t as miserable as these people who would make ignorant comments about someone they don’t even know.
    Erik recently posted…Photo Essay- The Flowers of AalsmeerMy Profile

  23. What a bunch of losers! Who does that??? I can’t see anything wrong with you or your life or your adventures. Sometimes people are just jealous and clearly have nothing better to do. Ignore them!
    Andrea recently posted…When We Can’t Wander As Much As We’d LikeMy Profile

  24. WOW, that is insane. I’m so sorry.

    There will always be haters, for sure. I blog a lot about money, and the personal finance blogsophere can be a bit judgey, but when I started blogging abut travel as well I quickly learned the travel blogosphere ain’t that different. I packed jeans. We got big packs (like 50-litre – we didn’t fill them up full most of the time but it was good to have the flexibility at times when we had extra stuff) and we weren’t hardcore shoestringers (my budget posts always got people commenting about how we spent too much despite my clearly saying we were not trying to spend as little as humanly possible).

  25. I can’t believe how incredibly cruel people can be sometimes! You’re totally right, gotta learn to ignore them. Insulting you for deciding to travel the world? Jealous. Insulting you because of a health issue? Insensitive and ignorant. Insulting you for running marathons? Also jealous. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that stuff, now and as a kid. I think you’re wonderful!
    Ali recently posted…The Trappings of a Resort on Koh SamuiMy Profile

  26. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Sadly some people never left junior high.
    Suzy recently posted…The Ideon Cave on Crete Wishes You Were HereMy Profile

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