Meet Jenny. Her natural comfort, authenticity, and passion for grammar locked me in immediately. She spoke confidently with an open and curious heart about feminism, self-care and personal growth and further reminded me that it is good and necessary to check in with myself and prioritize healing. So grab a coffee, get cozy, and meet Jenny because she’s blooming like crazy and tells us that it’s okay to make a few mistakes along the way.
How will you Bloom in the next year?
I saw this question on your site and I actually made some notes, because I was like, “Shit! What should I say?”
I started with my company in 2013, back when it was this tiny startup. For as long as I've worked there, it's been easy to put all of my attention and energies into this project. I mean, how many times in life do you get the opportunity to start something from nothing? To help create a place that you love? Go to work with people that you consider genuine friends?
I want to give everything over to this project, and now that we're a more established company, I feel like, once the election is over, I think I can finally take a step back and be like, “OK, who am I outside of my job?”
What are the types of things that will help you get closer to figure out the real you?
I recently took up exercising for the first time in my life. There's a running track next to my house, and I finally felt like I couldn't avoid it anymore — I had to try running around it, even just for five minutes. I want to learn to do other things with my body that will make me feel at peace: yoga, meditation.
I want to invest more time into relationships. I Skype so much with my London friends, and I try so hard to nurture those friendships, but occasionally I look around and am like, “Woah, I have three friends in New York.” I want to go back in time, so to speak — be a bit young, go out a bit more, put myself out there. I haven't been doing that because I was so focused on showing up to work energized and constantly ready.
Tell me about an obstacle that you’ve overcome.
When I started at my company, I was so in love with what I was doing. It was so exciting, it was all that I thought about, and it eventually I got to the point where I wasn’t delegating. I wasn’t letting the people around me — who were so talented! — take on the work that they signed on to do. I wanted to do everything myself.
I had a year of feeling anxious, then my first full-blown panic attack, and it just got more intense from there. I don’t think it was ever because of work or because of my environment. It was because I was neglecting to take care of myself and avoiding things like to going to therapy, like talking to a psychiatrist. I knew it was happening. I knew I was anxious and I just left it. I was having one panic attack a day and then I was having three. I got to the point where I was having eight or nine a day. It was exhausting.
I thought that by telling myself I could get through it, that there was nothing to be scared of, I thought I could fix it. It went on for a long time and, eventually, I had a breakdown in front of my coworkers, who are wonderful friends and support systems, and they urged me to take care of myself.
That week, I booked a psychiatric consultation. Eventually, I got into CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and talk therapy. Around three months in, the people around me started to ask me what had changed with my physical appearance, my eyebrows, new moisturizer...? The difference was my mental state and finally taking time for myself.
When you have anxiety, you think you're crazy because you want so badly to fix things on your own. It doesn’t help that everyone is telling you a different thing to try.
How did you filter out the advice because people are so eager and quick to give guidance?
The minute you start talking about it out loud is the minute you realize just how much everybody has experienced anxiety. I realized that I was actually quite boring in that sense.
For so long, I thought I was crazy. You’re not the only person who has gone through this, even though your brain tricks you into thinking you are.
You work for a women’s website. Why would this interest you? Were you always a feminist?
I was one of those people who, in my late teens, did not identify as a feminist. I didn’t like the word. And now those people make me angry, which is so hypocritical! It’s weird to think that working for a company would be the way that would make me acknowledge feelings I already had, and ultimately grow more comfortable and proud of my feminism. My mom was the foundation of it all. She was a partner at a law firm, raised four children — she took care of everything. She would always tell me that I could do anything.
I learned about feminism the most through editing articles written by feminists; from working side-by-side with women who were so vocally and proudly champions of women. I work with 50-60 women and men in varying capacities, and they all have so much knowledge on topics that I initially knew nothing about.
I used to think that the world was a more equal place. I think that, as women, we often think that way so we don’t get bitter. As I get older, I have to explain to people that, while I’m okay, what was just said was sexist. Sometimes these comments come from people you like and respect, and it’s disappointing.
My mother said to me recently that she wasn’t a feminist — even though to me, she is the definition of a strong women and my feminist role model. She doesn’t like the connotations of the word. That was so fundamentally disappointing. It sucks. At the same time, it makes you relate to other people more because you know that you are on the same team and on the same side. Because you know there is a common goal.
How can reduce gender inequality in the workplace?
For me, it’s about empowering the people around you and not letting anyone get caught up in negative self-image and perception. We need to call out these negative comments when we hear them and when we're speaking to others. When I'm reading magazines, watching TV, I try to keep this feminist hat on when I see gender inequality across different media and forms of communication.
You edit and write a lot of political articles. What do you think about Hillary?
Say what you want about Hillary, but this is a woman who has spent her entire career on the receiving end of sexist attacks. If Hillary Clinton can get through the response to Monica Lewinsky, if she can come out of that looking like a strong, brave, tough woman who is going to forgive her husbandif she fucking feels like it, then I can get through today. She was told that she couldn’t run for Senate, be Secretary of State, be President. I mean, if Hillary Clinton can shrug all that off, then I can definitely get through today.
Finally, what do you want to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for empowering people in a way that lets them know that, you know, it’s okay. If you’ve made a mistake, however disappointed you are in yourself and in whatever is going on, I want to let people know that it’s okay.
I have a younger sister who is sixteen and I think about feminism most in regard to her. I think about the kind of world she is growing up in with the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Skyping, sexting... It scares the shit out of me. She wants to be prettier, thinner, she wants a perfect selfie, and she keeps getting upset because she has this feeling that she’s always messing up. I try to tell her that it’s okay. Mistakes happen. We can fix it.
A KICK BUTT FORUM THAT AIMS TO INSPIRE, COMFORT AND UNITE INCREDIBLE WOMEN (& DUDES) THROUGH DYNAMIC INTERVIEWS