This self-proclaimed "walking contradiction" provides valuable insight women everywhere can embrace.
She's a yoga teacher who loves to meditate in the wilderness, but she's also a hunting guide who helps sportsmen tag big game in the backcountry. She loves to rock climb, but she also embraces her family heritage of ranching. And she's a fierce feminist, but she also competed for the Miss America donning nothing but a bikini on the big stage.
Six months out of the year, she lives in the mountains with no electricity or cell service to the outside world. Yet other times she finds herself glued to social media. As an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, she takes students out on 30-day hiking expeditions where showers and anything beyond basic hygiene are out of sight. But when she heads back to civilization, she loves to express her feminine side with fashion and beauty products.
In a 2018 Tedx Talk, Jessie explained how all these different facets of her life and personality can coexist--and why women shouldn't stifle themselves for the sake of others.
Here are a few valuable takeaways from that inspiring speech.
You shouldn't box yourself in.
As the only female hunting guide among a dozen middle-aged men, Jessie used to be slightly intimidated and would avoid talking about her other passions, namely yoga and beauty pageants. In order to try to earn their respect, she said she developed a more masculine communication style with a deeper voice and more assertive tone. But she's since realized that we're all anomalies to some extent, and worrying about judgment from others isn't worth the headache. Now she embraces every part of who she is without apology--and it's incredibly freeing.
Being "feminine" doesn't cancel out competence.
These days, Jessie refuses to hide her feminine traits and who she is. She's learned that you can be gentle and compassionate and wear any amount of makeup while still being incredibly competent, skillful, and worthy of respect. Her wide range of abilities--and high level of success in each endeavor--prove that being beautiful and kind don't need to hold you back.
Embracing your imperfections can be powerful and connecting.
Jessie acknowledged that our imperfections and insecurities can be tough to talk about, but embracing these vulnerabilities can give way to great power. We can either let quirks and differences confine us or use them as a tool for connecting with others, sharing our stories on a deeper level, and provide common ground in a divisive world.
Jessie said this all clicked for her a while back when she was hiking with a hunter who had just killed an elk, thanks to her guiding expertise. As she was hauling 100 pounds of meat on her back, she opened up to him about her love of pageants and yoga. She found an unlikely ally when he revealed he'd love to try meditating himself. She said it was then she realized her worlds were colliding--there could be a bridge between these separate spaces.
She used to be embarrassed by her "dirty little mountain girl" hands when performing during pageants, but she realized this played an important part in her message as Miss Wyoming--unplug and head outside.
There's nothing better than being your raw, authentic self.
Adopting the explorer mindset will open up opportunities.
Jessie explained that we're all naturally explorers as children. We're curious, adventurous, and open to new knowledge. Growing up on her family's guest ranch in Wyoming, she earned the nickname of "Messy Jessie" for her bruised body parts, pine needle-filled hair, and dirt mustache she acquired while building forts, riding bareback, and picking raspberries in the wild. With no noise from the outside world, she was happy and everyday was an adventure.
But she, like many adults, lost that explorer mindset for a while as she grew up. She's since gone back to that empowering mentality and said it's important to be driven by curiosity, hold off on judgment before experiencing something, create adventure in everyday life, and be an open-minded sponge looking for the good parts of everyday events. She now seeks out opportunities to grow and expand her comfort zone.
Jessie spent her summers at that family ranch and began guiding rock climbing, fly fishing, and hunting outings at age 13. While this in itself is impressive, she nudged herself into areas that felt uncomfortable, followed through, and learned a lot.
She's traveled to Alaska for two months to learn about dog sledding, applied for D.C. jobs to understand politics firsthand, and studied yoga in Thailand. She said grabbing onto these "flickers" helped her create diverse experiences and ultimately connect with a wide range of people. She's become incredibly adaptable.
We just need to pry our hands out of our pockets.
Her father taught her not to stand around with her hands in pockets--there's always a job that needs to be done. Rather than be paralyzed by anxiety or fear, we just have to go out and get it done. We don't have to be complacent, passive observers in our own lives. We can be active participants driving our own stories.
Jessie paired her passion for sharing yoga with like-minded women and traveling on horseback through the mountains to piece her personal dream together and make it a reality--women's outdoor yoga expeditions.
Think about it: A 22-year-old small-town Wyoming girl broke through barriers to create something tangible and worthwhile, but it took work. Jessie said if you truly set your intentions on growth, you can realize your greatest passions and successes. That's some meaningful advice.
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