After being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in August 2018 and undergoing therapeutic treatment, Meggie Tran realized the importance of normalizing the discussion about mental health and its illnesses. Two years after her diagnosis, she created a safe space on the internet for this, her Mindful Meggie travel blog. At about the same time, she visited a therapist again, learning about her social anxiety and mental health issues related to the Asian American immigrant experience (she is a second-generation Vietnamese American).
As a lifelong travel enthusiast and mental health advocate, Meggie destigmatizes mental illnesses through an untraditional medium — travel. On her Mindful Meggie blog, she writes inspiring stories about her imperfect mental health as it relates to travel and practical resources to help people with a mental health condition travel. She aims to normalize the mental health topic with her lighthearted storytelling and bubbly character. Her written work has appeared on Fodor’s Travel and an Arizona State University publication called Canyon Voices.
Her Mindful Meggie blog has prompted readers to open up about their mental health conditions to Meggie. She listens and learns from all their stories. At the same time, she makes sure to emphasize her list of mental health resources because she isn’t a mental health professional, just someone with plenty of lived experiences with mental health treatment.
Where did the idea for The Mindful Meggie Travel Blog come from?
In 2018, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and received therapeutic treatment, which taught me how to cope with this lifelong mental illness and thrive in life.
Although discussions about mental health are becoming more normalized, there is still an unnecessary stigma that makes opening up look like a brave and scary thing to do. People may be reluctant to tell their family, friends, and community members about their mental health conditions for fear of shame. Sadly, as a result, lots of people don’t seek professional mental health services. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. The more we can freely talk about them, the more we can prove to our mental illnesses that we are brave enough to open up and get the help we need.
By throwing out my stories about my mental health issues to the public, I’m embracing the vulnerability to work towards normalizing mental health. Since I am an avid traveler, I naturally find myself relating mental health topics to travel. And so, my blog business and writing career, Mindful Meggie, destigmatizes mental illnesses through travel. There, I share inspiring stories that combine travel and mental health as well as practical resources to help someone with a mental illness travel.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I make sure that I balance it out between Mindful Meggie, my university work, family time, and personal time. In the mornings, I write for my blog because it’s the time of day with the least potential distractions. I need to get in the writing zone!
In the afternoon, I work on miscellaneous blog obligations as well as homework. I will also spend a little time with correspondence, especially email.
In the evening, I practice the guitar and watch TV with my family. The night is wrapped up with some good books by the bedside!
How do you bring ideas to life?
I would say that my leisurely moments get my creative juices flowing, thus inspiring new ideas — often in unexpected ways. This happens the most when I am reading a book. Maybe an author wrote down an intriguing concept that I could further develop based on the travel or mental health topic. I make sure that I put my ideas down on a piece of paper or on my computer before I forget!
What’s one trend that excites you?
More than ever, our society is advocating for mental health, and thus, reducing the stigma. I’m grateful for anyone who shares their mental health stories, whether they are privately messaging me or letting the public know on their social media platform.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Like Stephen King would say, a writer should be immersed in the world of their writing, not the real world. And I think that is applicable for entrepreneurs, as well.
I set up an ideal work environment to close me off from the rest of the world. My windows are shut, my earbuds are resting in my ears, and my favorite songs are being played.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be more flexible. When I made my major computer science in college, I didn’t even consider the prospect of changing my career because I liked how clear and rigid the path to landing a computer science position was. But I was already having some hesitation about the computer science field, not because of the work itself but because I couldn’t see myself in the future doing it. I felt some people were meant to be a computer scientist, not me.
When I attended a hackathon and discovered that I really didn’t want to venture into computer science anymore, I switched my major to English and eventually found myself starting a travel and mental health blog and writing career!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
We are responsible for how we handle our time, so scheduling and sticking to the most important activities are key. People underestimate how many hours we are awake in a day. If someone says, “I don’t have enough time to do this and that,” then I think they need to work on being more selective with their activities and scheduling them in the span of a week.\
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
There is so much to glean from books about business and personal development. After I finish them, I make sure that they are resting on an obvious bookshelf so I can see them all the time while I am in my room. Seeing their spines alone is enough to inspire me to keep going!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I have manifested my character into everything I have done, which isn’t hard at all when you are honest. In turn, I’ve stood out from the crowd and gotten people to notice my work. For example, I’ve harnessed my love for comics and graphic novels into my blog post and social media images by placing comic text bubbles on them. Lots of readers have told me that they’ve never seen such fun images before from a blogger.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I simply wish that I had taken the travel blogging business seriously at an earlier age. Although I was already experimenting with blog work as a hobby, deep down inside, I knew I wanted to take the leap and try it from a business standpoint. My hesitance mostly came from a fear of not being able to stand out. I overcame it one early random morning with an epiphany so profound, I couldn’t go back to sleep. What if I merged my favorite topics, travel and mental health? Finally, I began taking the blogging business more seriously. Instead of trying to blog on my own limited knowledge, I signed up for a blogging course. And here I am today!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A nonprofit organization that hosts outdoor camping programs, specifically for people who have been going through therapy for their mental health conditions. The program facilitators would include therapists, of course.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A variety of books, from personal development to business to travel narratives to graphic novels. I love being entertained and informed by so many topics. One way or another, they’ve recharged my creative batteries.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I have two Google Calendars because I need to clarify the separation between my business and everything else, which includes university obligations and spare time. I check both calendars each day to see what needs to get done the current day and week.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. A lot of business and personal development books have pointed to Frankl’s text, so it must be good! I just finished it, and I can wholeheartedly agree. I’ve gained so much insight about living a meaningful life and going through the hard times, which I could easily apply to both personal and business success.
What is your favorite quote?
“The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost. The true heart can tough the poison of hatred without being harmed. Since beginning-less time, darkness thrives in the void but always yields to purifying light.” – the Lion Turtle from Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Keep reading books and finding titles to pick up. You don’t have to limit yourself to business books. Feel free to glean from a variety of genres and formats. You’ll be both entertained and informed.
- When you face your struggles, you can transform them into your strengths. Struggles are where your greatest potential for beautiful change lies.
- No matter what happens in your life, you are ultimately responsible for your time and well-being. External situations and other people don’t run your life, you do. Accept this responsibility, act on it, and you will go far.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.