I was twelve years old. I completed a school project on Iceland. I researched and wrote about the fjords, the rugged landscape and the Northern Lights. My Year 7 teacher took me aside and told me I could write. He told me to keep writing. To keep following what brought me joy. "You have a skill," he said.
But something went askew.
In my twelve year old head, I didn't believe him.
Terrified, as most young people are about becoming the little fish in the biggest pond of all, I lost touch of my Year 7 teacher's words and began to treat myself like playground dirt.
I developed an eating disorder at the age of thirteen.
I hate using that term because it reduces down all of the thoughts, feelings and experiences that led to and made up the thing; but for brevity's sake, let's go with the shorthand.
I stopped eating, feeling and being my big brave self.
And the nightmare didn't stop until, oh about two and a half years ago (but we'll rewind before we fast forward).
Once I finished high school, having managed through my exams and allayed the anxiety of puberty with a little friend called triathlon, I went traveling.
I travelled alone to India, Kenya and Tanzania.
I took tonnes of photos.
I came back to Australia and discovered that people who were working as photographers, liked my pictures.
In what feels like someone else's life, I went on to hold my first solo exhibition. I worked for Frankie Magazine, local businesses and X-Press Magazine; the Perth street press. I went to gigs, photographed bands and learnt how to shoot analog film. I was mentored and supported by two incredibly generous artists, Bodhan Warchomij and Carine Thevenau.
After visiting a certain producer every week for months, I was finally given a job assisting a leading advertising photographer and producer. It was a dream of a gig. I had a business card, a laptop and keys to the office. I was working as a creative, kind-of. But on the inside I wasn't fairing well.
I still wasn't eating properly and some days I felt like I was living a double life. Outgoing, happy, inspired and simultaneously lonely, depressed and exhausted.
Some months in with said dream gig, the GFC hit and my boss decided that she couldn't afford to keep me on.
"Goodbye Jess." Minutes later I handed back the laptop, keys to the office and the mobile phone. I kept the business cards.
On the inside I died a little.
I beat myself up.
I proceeded to work shitty jobs in hospitality in the years following and struggled to stop exercising like a mad woman. I lived for this nebulous far off day when I would no longer feel impeded by my body.
I convinced my twenty something self that moving to Melbourne would cure me.
So I did.
I applied for Monash University, packed my bags and said, "see-ya," to Mum and Dad and Fremantle harbour.
I studied Literature at Monash and eventually graduated. Completing that course proved to me that I could write. And it also proved to me that if I wanted anything in this life, I needed two things: To commit and to really desire it, for me; not for appearances sake.
After finishing my course I pursued something else I was pretty f***ing passionate about: A career in youth mental health.
I perserved, much like I did with the producer and was finally rewarded with a job at one of Australia's leading youth mental health services.
I mentored and worked with some of the most inspiring, resilient young people I trust I will ever meet and we changed each other's lives.
Giving back to young people experiencing their own existential pain enabled me to grow healthier and healthier inside and out.
I came to know what wellness felt like.
And with this new found health, came a new kind of hunger.
As nourished as I was by these young people, an integral part of me wasn't being fed. Working within a large organisation with its policies and processes and procedures meant that I couldn't be as creative and radical as I needed to be.
So I did what felt hard, but right.
I didn't know what I wanted to do, I just knew I needed to feed that big, important part of myself that was starving.
I wanted to find a way to use my writing to help people achieve their revolutionary, beautiful, wild goals, dreams and ambitions. I was passionate about financial autonomy, innovation and using ones skills and talents to offer the world something unique, remarkable and genuine. So I leapt and chased these things for myself, in the hope that I would find others who wanted similar things, but needed someone with a love and knack for words and time management to help them realise their vision.
I believed the world would be a better place with fewer corporations, more social enterprises and a community of courageous humans using their talents, skills and technology to change all that's not working (and clearly I still believe this).
And so, I committed to what I desired.
I studied advanced marketing and writing for media, copywriting and innovation accounting and began to offer copywriting services to pioneering small businesses, authentic not for profit organisations, courageous entrepreneurs and fascinating startups.
And people liked it. They liked what I was doing. So I kept going.
I am going. I will keep going.
You might be wondering why I told you, some anonymous internet soul about the mental health stuff?
That's a good question.
Firstly, everyone loves a good story right? We're hardwired to connect with one another through narrative.
But it matters to me that I am authentic with you; that I'm honest, above and beyond anything else. And tell you the REAL reasons why I'm passionate about social change, writing and the remarkable life.
I'm so ravenous to support others in their mission to create authentic expressions of their greatest dreams because I spent most of my young adult life being inauthentic and not great.
I spent too much time rejecting my ambitious heart.
I wasn't of much use when I was stuffing down what I really wanted, thought and desired.
If you and I can embrace authenticity and be brave and big and courageous, then I feel the world would be just that little bit more remarkable. For us and that man over there.
I have come to realise many things, but in the realm of copywriting, I know that great copy can be the difference between a sustainable, revolutionary enterprise and one that sinks like a hammer. People connect with authentic shit, a'hem, words.
When I'm not helping my clients to grow their businesses, I'm likely to be heading bush or beachside with a camera, writing a thesis, or spending time with good hearted, authentic people-like you!
P.S Now that you know who I am you're probably wanting to confirm that I do a tremendous job and that I'm not bull shitting you?