Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordan Tarver.
Jordan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a family of six—two older brothers, an older sister, and, of course, my loving parents. Raised in a small town in Sonoma County, I like to think my innocence was long-lasting, as there was never much influence outside my family, church, sports, and early years of schooling. I attended a private school until I was about 12 years old, which consisted of one schoolhouse that maxed out at 40 students. The place was small—everyone knew everyone and their parents and their grandparents and where they lived and their home phone numbers.
Parents never have a true rule book to go by when raising their children. They taught themselves the ropes they believed would give their children a life worth living—a life where we could flourish beyond our own imagination. My parents were good at a lot of things. In particular, they always created a space for us to follow our interests. There was never a predetermined path for us to follow. They gifted us with the power to make those types of decisions and sit in the driver’s seat of our life. Although this may seem like a lack of guidance, it was far from that. It taught me that I was able to guide the trajectory of my life—I was able to invent my own identity.
However, in my early teens, I wasn’t sure who I was, and I lacked self-confidence. They weren’t my best years. I second-guessed who I was trying to be, felt like I didn’t fit in with the people around me, and couldn’t find my voice. Although I was uncertain and far from confident, I was able to rely on the foundation my parents built for me. During my high school years, I realized that I felt a bit lost. But this motivated me. The feeling of being lost and unsure of myself encouraged me to redefine who I was and step into my own power.
After graduating from California State University, Fullerton, I had a piece of paper that said I had earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance. A common path is to follow what you learned in college and make a career out of it. However, that didn’t sit right with me. Finance wasn’t my thing. It didn’t bring me joy. While it may be easy to believe you must follow what you “found” in college, those traditional ways of thinking are a thing of the past. I realized this and pledged to live a life solely built on the foundation of following my interests and heart. My heart led me to a different path. It showed me the gateway to my own self-discovery and encouraged me to seek something that resonated with me, rather than follow the traditional ways of thinking.
So, instead of beginning a journey dictated by the words on that piece of paper—business finance—I decided to take a leap of faith. I was ready to crack open the door to my own self-discovery and create my true identity. I was mature enough to understand that the past doesn’t have to define your future, and I had the ability to make significant changes in my life. I moved out of my house in Newport Beach that was just steps from the sand, quit my job as a restaurant server days after graduating college, packed a backpack full of clothes and essentials, and left for a three-month solo backpacking trip across Europe. I felt the need to maneuver myself through a very unfamiliar place. I began to see this as an intensive masterclass. The subject? My own life.
I challenged myself to leave a positive impact on every single individual I connected with, and I wrote down everything in my leather journal. Everything from where I was staying to what city I was in to the sketchy gypsy on the side of the road, to the times where I was about ready to cry, and then give up and fly home. Some days were tougher than others, but my anchor was remembering the greater purpose of the journey—the opportunity to become who I was always meant to be.
My other two anchors in my life at that point were the best efforts I put forth to try and positively impact the people I met, and the hundred or so cream-colored pages in my leather journal. For the first time in my life, I embraced writing. I was using my voice. Positivity and writing became my method of release—they let me express my most authentic self. Although I felt nervous to embrace this path because it was a new endeavor, I was confident of one thing: the voice that comes from the deepest part of our hearts, and the feeling that burns in the center of our gut is usually the guide we need to learn to love and understand. And so I did.
I saw this path as a gateway as an opportunity for self-realization and change. It was my chance to break through to the other side and create a life I would be proud to live. Writing slowly became an addiction.
Since that trip in 2016, I have continued to pour my heart into writing, and I’ve also found a way to combine it with my knack for photography. I write long-form travel stories that explore a bigger idea, question, or lesson through the lens of the outdoors, which showcase both my written word and photography. As an introspective traveler, photographer, author, and musician, you’ll find that my work is designed to investigate the depth of life beyond materialism and inspire others to live a more meaningful life.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m a dreamer and a dream chaser, and the road to chasing your dreams is never smooth; it’s always filled with a never-ending loop of struggles. I would be doing a disservice to everyone if I were to say my path was perfect and free of frustration, challenges, and moments where I simply wanted to give up.
For me, as a creator, the biggest struggle I’ve dealt with is self-worth and believing in my own work. It’s easy to compare yourself to what else is out there and to think there’s no more room for success in the field you want to dive into because of all the people that came before you. However, that’s not the case.
To get over the struggles of self-worth and a lack of belief, it really comes down to a mindset shift and how you talk to yourself. If you tell yourself you’re not worthy of success or your work is mediocre, then you’ll start to create that reality for yourself. However, if you shift that dialogue into something positive, the world is honestly your oyster (sorry for the cliche). Simply put: You’re capable of anything as long as you tell yourself you are. This lesson came to me at a really crucial time in my creative career, and it’s something I make sure I’m reminded of often.
So, if you are also someone who struggles with things alike, remember that lesson. Write it in your phone, put it on a post-it note, or set it as your background wallpaper; constantly remind yourself of it until you shift your perspective and mindset around those challenges.
Speak to yourself positively and become your own biggest fan, it will transform your life.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m an author, writer, and photographer, and the majority of my work is around travel, the outdoors, adventure, and self-improvement. I work with global, mission-driven brands to help them tell the stories of their product launches, expeditions, missions, and/or community-based work, offering both written work and professional photography
When it comes to my written work, I write long-form adventure essays or travel stories that explore a bigger idea or lesson but through the lens of the outdoors or travel. My creative business also revolves around adventure and travel photography. These pieces of work allow brands’ customers to feel a part of a specific trip, exploration, movement, or mission.
I’m also the author of ‘You Deserve This Sh!t’ and ‘Moment’. These books are the result of tireless work focused on creative self-growth. My goal is to give people access to the tools, practices, and exercises that I use to create my own identity and unlock my greatest potential. My latest book, ‘You Deserve This Sh!t’, will be available everywhere in February 2020 while you can purchase ‘Moment’ on Amazon today.
At the end of the day, in between all the different types of projects I work on, the most rewarding thing for me is inspiring people to live a more meaningful life. Whether that’s using my self-improvement tips, tools, and hacks, or using my adventure/travel work to motivate them to spend more time outdoors, it all adds up.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Kindness, integrity, diligence, vulnerability, and courage.