You can all blame Emily.
I sat on the sofa of my brother’s living room. It was a few weeks ago; his wife Emily was still pregnant (Ethan John was born August 20th!). We were drinking tea and chatting, talking about my Big Move. They were asking me the questions people ask: logistics, money, “How will you support yourself?” I was running through my litany of answers, a hustle that involves waiting tables five days a week, saving, scrounging, selling off my worldly possessions, and generally be stressed as shit.
“Why don’t you fundraise?” Emily asked simply.
My shoulders raised as every muscle in me cringed. “You mean like, ‘I’m running a marathon for charity, please donate’?”
“Well,” I took a deep breath and tried to articulate the crunch in my stomach. “I’m not doing anything for a particular cause. I mean, I’m moving to Phnom Penh to write a book, but it’s not like a charity cause where money is going to a particular place.”
Emily shrugged, unconvinced.
“And,” I admitted, “I hate asking for money. I hate asking for help in general.”
“But you don’t have to think of that way. There are lots of people who’d love to help you pursue your dream.”
I looked down, embarrassed, though I wasn’t sure why. “Like who?”
“Like me!” she exclaimed. “People that will never get a chance to do what you’re doing.” She looked down at her monumental belly and smiled back up at me.
So the seed was planted. So I’m swallowing my pride and my shame and my general co-dependence, and letting people support me. If they want.
I launched a campaign today on the fundraising site IndieGoGo. Here’s the link, and here’s how it works:
IndieGoGo allows people to create campaigns and generate funding. You create giving levels and rewards, as well as a goal amount and timeline. They take a small cut, the percentage of which depends on whether you reach your funding goal or not.
I liked the idea of IndieGoGo because it’s a relatively non-intrusive way of fundraising. The idea of actually asking for support directly makes me recoil, but this feels somehow less smarmy.
Because really, it’s not about the money. (I mean it is, but not my hesitations.) It’s about asking for support, and letting people give it. My imminent move abroad has already pushed me into all sorts of uncomfortable positions. I, the girl who hasn’t had a birthday party in over a decade, is having a going-away BBQ. I’m having an official last day at work—another first—and actually letting people know about it. And, instead of working myself into the ground so I can scrimp and save and scrape my pennies together, I’m reaching out. I’m scaling back on work so that I can do what feels more important: spending time with my friends and family, soaking in my sweet-ass life here.
I refuse to take responsibility for this leap of faith or this new-found semblance of humility. Instead, I blame Emily.