Part Four: I Quit – Jedidiah Jenkins
He quit his job as a lawyer to become an adventurer and writer.
Jedidiah Jenkins’ road to quit his day job and embark on a 16-month, 10,000-mile bike trip from Oregon to Patagonia, Chile, was a long one. “It was a slow buildup. I remember turning 27 and seeing 30 on the horizon. I feared my 30s. They seemed so adult, so full of responsibility and settling down,” he says. “I decided that I would use my 30th year as a springboard into my dreams. I found through testing in my 20s that writing was my passion. So at 27 I told my job that I would be quitting in three years to become a writer. They laughed and said, Who gives 3 years’ notice?’ and I said, ‘I do.’”
At the time, Jenkins was a copywriter and lawyer for the nonprofit Invisible Children. (You might remember the viral Kony 2012 campaign—that was them.) “I had spent my 20s trying new things. I went to law school, then moved into human-rights work. I never predicted I would do any of that,” he says. His job was all-consuming, so he figured that his dream of writing a book would fail if he didn’t have the time to dedicate himself to it fully. “I realized that I wanted to write a memoir, but felt inadequate at only 30 years old. I hadn’t lived long enough to have a lot to say,” he says. So then I thought, ‘If I do something objectively interesting, I can write about that.’” And the big bike trip came to be.
He had two key role models to look to: His parents walked across America in the 1970s and wrote about it for National Geographic. “They lived adventurously and authentically. That had a huge impact on me,” he says. After garnering a massive online following while writing about his travels, Jenkins has returned home to LA, where he recently launched a magazine, Wilderness, and is working on a novel based on his cross-continental adventure. “Once this book is born, we’ll see what happens next. I try not to climb another mountain until I’m at the top of the one I’m already climbing. You can see better up there.”
This article was originally published in Issue 09 of the Mohawk Maker Quarterly. The Mohawk Maker Quarterly is a vehicle to support a community of like-minded makers. Content focuses on stories of small manufacturers, artisans, printers, designers, and artists who are making their way in the midst of the digital revolution. Learn more about the quarterly here.
We’ve all fantasized about it: Quitting your day job to pursue your dreams on your terms—following your inspiration wherever it leads. To throw caution to the wind, reject convenience and act on what feeds your creative soul.