I’m Jen and I live in Queensland, Australia. This is what I look like:
As you can see, I’m pretty damn awesome. I love doing what I can’t. What that means is that I’m constantly challenging myself physically, emotionally and intellectually. None of what I do is complicated, it’s just not always easy. Some of it makes me scared, some of it gets on my nerves and some of it – the physical stuff – often makes me feel like I’m dying. Hmm, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but even so, the hard stuff is hard, fullstop. Still, I love it. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be able to run marathons, but guess what? I can.
I’ve always been obsessed with making my life amazing, but was held back by my ideas of what that meant and how I would do it. Basically I felt like an amazing life was out of my reach because I didn’t have access to funds for what I thought was the definition of an amazing life. I also felt like I didn’t know “how” to do adventure. I didn’t feel like I was confident enough to go on an adventure on my own, not just because I’d be alone on the trip, but because I didn’t know anything about equipment or how to organise any kind of adventure. It was basically a huge project and I always ended up telling myself that it was too hard and that I’m not “that kind of person” anyway.
I was wrong. I am that kind of person. Everyone is. I started doing things by increments. I bought my first pack from an op shop. It was an external frame deal that cost me $8. A few months later I bought a cheap tent. I got an old Trangia stove from an army disposal store. My brother gave me a book called Being Outdoors by Tim Macartney-Snape. I got excited and thought, yeah, I can really do this. I bought my camping permits and my ferry transfers and got ready to go to Fraser Island on my first solo hiking adventure. It was going to be so cool and I could already smell the rainforest, but I got scared and pulled out at the last minute. I’ve never stopped thinking about how I pussied out of that trip. I can’t even recall exactly what it was that scared me, but I do recall telling myself that it was ok because I wasn’t really that kind of person anyway, but like I said, I was wrong.
With that failed trip in mind, I kept at it. I vowed I wouldn’t let fear stop me from doing anything ever again and by increments I kept gathering hiking equipment and learning everything I could about solo hiking. When I read Robert Kull’s book Solitude I felt something shift inside me and I knew I had to go out on my own, so I planned a 75km solo hiking trip on Fraser Island. I really have no idea what the hell I was so worried about the first time! It was a great trip and I loved it. It was as hard as a bastard because I was really unfit, but still, I’m so glad I did it. Fraser has always been really special to me. Much of my childhood was spent there and I reckon some of the island found its way into my soul over the years.
After that I trip I could see that I could treat adventure the same way that banks treat your money in one of their accounts. I could compound my experiences. My confidence grew and I started to believe that maybe things aren’t as scary as what society would have us believe. I started to wonder what I could really be capable of if I let all of those restrictions go.
In 2016 I hiked almost 400km by myself. I walked from Mount Perry to Toowoomba with a 22kg pack on my back. It took me 28 days to get to Toowoomba. I hiked alone and most nights camped out on the side of the road in a little green tent I’d bought years earlier when I was gathering my equipment. Doing things by increments and compounding my experiences allowed me to go on a trip that changed my life, and all I had to do was step outside my own door.
After that trip I started to really and truly believe that I could actually do anything. Since then my life has become one great big adventure and I do things now that I would never have thought possible: I finished writing my first book, I joined roller derby, I ran in my first running competition, I started travelling more by myself, I joined community groups, I moved house, I severed relationships that had never been any good for me, I started volunteering, I put some really terrible experiences behind me and the big one: I made a unwavering commitment to my health and well-being.
Having an attitude of adventure, be it big or small, has allowed me to expand my mind, my perception and has increased the amount of satisfaction and happiness in my life because:
I can do anything