Writer / Photographer, Aspen, Colorado
I met Jennifer in Aspen (Snowmass to be precise). Her story involves a split moment’s decision to pursue an opportunity in Colorado, a cross country drive (just her and the Jeep) and starting over in this rocky wonderland. Jenn’s glowing positive outlook on the world is contagious. Here are couple of insights into Jenn’s story:
1. Where is your hometown?
My hometown is in Chesapeake City, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (along the Chesapeake Bay), though I just moved to Carbondale, Colorado.
2. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)?
The journey to get here as been a whirlwind! I never actually planned for any of it, but am so grateful for the opportunities. I graduated college in 2014 with a degree in professional writing, and dreamed of one day being a travel/adventure writer, perhaps working for an outdoor magazine. The problem was, even with a degree, any job I was interested in wanted 2-3 years of experience and/or contacts in the company. So instead of job searching immediately after graduating, I took the summer to travel around different countries in Europe with friends and family, and just enjoy life. At the end of summer, I wanted to keep traveling, and so applied to be a flight attendant on a whim. I never expected to get the job, but one month later I was packing my bags and moving across the country to Phoenix, AZ, where I was based. In the following year I was doing anything from skydiving over whales in Hawaii, to rappelling down a 200 foot cliff in Puerto Rico, to enjoying escargot in Paris (yes, it’s delicious!). But I soon felt I needed to see more of each place, not just more places (quality over quality!). I also wanted to continue my writing passion, so in October of 2015 I applied to an internship with Trail Runner Magazine in Colorado, hoping that would get me the experience I needed to get my writing career rolling. One week later I landed the internship, one month later I quit my job, another month after that I flew to Colorado to look for housing, and just five days after that I was making the 2,000 mile trek across the country in my Jeep. Turns out, the roommates I’d been lucky enough to find worked for Aspen Skiing Co., so with their help I was able to secure a job at Snowmass ski resort! So here I am, two months later, loving my job and the people I’ve met, and am excited to start my internship in just a couple of days. I’ve met a couple of inspirational people who are helping me to start up an adventure blog too, so hopefully that will continue to push me towards my adventure writing dreams!
3. Biggest accomplishment since making a move?
Biggest accomplishment since making a move: learning a totally new area and, essentially, a totally different lifestyle. Go ahead and make fun of me, but when I came out here to work at a ski resort, I didn’t even know what a ski/snowboard binding was. I didn’t know the first thing about snowboarding, I had only skied twice in my life over a decade ago, I knew hardly anything about Aspen, its ski resorts, the state of Colorado, or the company I was about to work for. In about a week I had to familiarize myself with all of this, plus the rules and tasks of my job and names of my 50 plus coworkers. Having been out of school for about a year and a half, I was a bit out of practice with cramming my head full of that much knowledge so quickly, and it definitely woke me up! With the help of my amazing coworkers and the relaxed atmosphere, however, I felt comfortable and confident in no time.
4. What was the greatest disappointment and plan to overcome it?
My greatest disappointment might be that the flight attendant job wasn’t as much for me as I thought it would be. I had three goals I hoped to obtain in any job I got after college: One, that I would have the ability to travel. Two, that I would have some freedom in my schedule. And three, that I would not sit behind a desk, day after day. The flight attendant thing basically embodied all of that, but I just couldn’t convince myself that it was mydream job, despite most everyone else telling me it was. It was hard trying to love something that I just couldn’t, and feeling that it was the wrong fit when I wanted it to be the right one. But, as I learned, listening to your gut is super important. Also, there is no one path to any dream. That job may have seemed perfect, but if I wasn’t happy, then it wasn’t perfect. And there are a ton of other ways I can travel, have freedom, and not sit behind a desk; being a flight attendant wasn’t the end-all job for that. In the end, I got to a point where I stopped trying to hold on to something that wasn’t right for me, and instead let life’s current take me where it was trying to all along. Determined to get my dreams back, I became proactive in searching for something better. I took a leap of faith, trusted in God, and almost instantly I was transported here to Colorado! And I’m happier than ever. :)
5. Advice to other women?
My advice to women: Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith. People say it all the time and it will probably never be any less scary until you do it, but I’m telling you that sometimes that’s the only way to get your life on the course its meant to be on. You can try to change little things here and there, but if you’re feeling completely lost from the person you know yourself to be, you need to go with the first thought/desire/instinct you have or feel; we have those instincts and gut feelings for a reason. You may be holding yourself back from the best thing of your life if you don’t at least give yourself the chance.
6. Where in the world do you feel “tallest”?
I feel “tallest” in the mountains, and that’s not to be cliché. I’ve always felt a total sense of belonging whenever I hike or trail run through mountains, like I can totally be myself. Maybe its the connection to nature, or the humbling views, or the conquering feeling of making it to the top. Whatever it is, when I do reach the top, its hard for me to want to come back down to reality. When I’m in the mountains, there’s no worldly problems, no stress of tomorrow, no time of today. Just me, my dreams, and one foot moving in front of the other.
7. What is the future goal/challenge (career goals in 5-10 years)
My future goal is to one day be a well known writer, whether that be through magazine articles, blog posts, or even books. I do have dreams to be an author, but even more so to have adventure articles that inspire others to get outside and have adventures of their own. I also have an extreme passion for taking photos and video footage, and hope to incorporate that in with my writing. My ultimate goal, even from the time I was young, is to one day work for a company such as National Geographic. Now THAT would be cool. So now the challenge is to build up a blog, publish some freelance articles, showcase some of my best photography work, and get my name out in the outdoor industry. It might be a slow journey, but well worth it!
8. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
One of my biggest fears I’m hoping to overcome is thinking that my work won’t be good enough. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my passions, so sometimes I hide my writing and photography from the world until I feel it’s at its best. This isn’t a good thing, because often times I end up not writing anything at all and then, out of practice, my fear of writing sub-par articles increases. I’ve got to remind myself to just go for it and to not be so hard on myself. That’s what editing is for, right?
9. What inspires you?
Reading articles in magazine like Outside, Trail Runner, National Geographic, and Backpacker inspire me. Not only do they give great ideas for what to do in the outdoors or for travel, they also help to kickstart my brain after it’s been trapped in a writer’s block. Additionally, watching GoPro footage inspires me! Seriously, I could watch one of their promotional videos on YouTube and be ready to conquer the world by the end of it. It gets me excited for the possibilities I could have, not just dream about. Again, it’s all about the go-for-its and the leaps of faith!
10. Where can people find you/your work?