Jena Dominique talks changing the world one postcard at a time
Jena is a visionary who is dedicated to traveling the world, in order to shed light on the unique cultural experiences she encounters. At 23, she’s already traveled to Italy, France, The Netherlands, Morocco, Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, Tokyo, South Africa, and even Brazil for the 2016 Olympic games.
And most recently, she’s teamed up with two other women on a project called Un.Earth, where they plan to educate and enlighten as they navigate through the world.
Read more below as Jena talks about how she chose her career path and more.
What was your childhood like? What experiences helped shape the woman you are today?
I was an awkward black girl. I was the black girl who never had chap-stick, so my lips were always dry. I had braces. And, I was super tall and skinny. I think those experiences of not really learning how to fit in really shaped who I am today in a sense that I don’t necessarily strive to fit in. And also my mother really encouraged me to be my best self at all times. My mom always encouraged me to try new things and not to be afraid to try things that other people weren’t trying. That’s shaped me to be who I am today.
Growing up did you experience any insecurities?
I was definitely insecure growing up. However, I don’t think I realized it until I got into my twenties and realized oh my goodness, my body’s changing. Then I started to think maybe I’m not as skinny as I was before so those insecurities that were once me thinking I’m light as a feather became I’m a woman and I’m filling out. I was also insecure about liking what I liked. In high school, it was always better to fit in but now it’s better to be weird than it is to be the same as everyone else.
I was insecure not only about my body but about my mind as well. I was afraid to share my brilliance, and my genuine thoughts, and my genuine spirit. Today, I’m confidently pursuing my goals. I’m very confident in myself and what I want. I think I overcame those insecurities by learning to embrace myself and realizing the importance of self-care, embracing my talents, and embracing those around me like the love that I get from my family and my peers, reveling in that love and support that they give me.
How did you choose your career path?
I think that it chose me. I took my first trip abroad with my mother when I was 16 years old. She took me to Paris for my 16th birthday. One day, I walked into my mom’s room and said to her what if I created a travel postcard scavenger hunt. Since then, I haven’t necessarily had a love for travel but a love for cultural exchange, and for recreating myself. I love that I can be in a place and change my name if I want, or my job if I want. I can tell you I am whoever I want to be and you would believe me because you have no reason not to.
And so in that, I began taking photos and a lot of my work really gravitated toward street art and photography. It became things that represented community, like what is the community’s voice through that art, the things that make them different from other places in the world. I decided to merge my love for photography with my love for postcards. I think everyone likes to receive little gems and keepsakes so I wanted to document my story and encourage other people to document theirs. For about a year now I’ve been pursuing postcards and street photography.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations? What keeps you motivated?
My circle keeps me motivated. Seeing my friends do dope things around the world embracing their talents, and challenging themselves inspires me to be better. Also seeing people fight against adversity. We all deal with different adversities, but for me I really revel in challenge and problem solving. Those are the things that push me to meet my goals.
And my mother, she’s my best friend and my lifeline all in one. She makes me push myself to the extreme and it really makes me fight for my goals and what I want in my life. I’m really passionate about owning my time. So I don’t go into anything without making clear concise decisions about what I want, making sure I still can own myself in that.
What are some other things you wish to accomplish in the future?
I want to change the world via postcards. I want to mobilize people via postcards, and inspire people to share their story. I want to inspire people to know they can do it. I also want to go on a speaking tour. I want to write a book. And possibly be a professor at a university. And lastly, I want to have the power to ask myself every day of the week, “Do I want to surf today?”
What advice can you give to our readers?
I encourage young women to embrace your talents. Find your passion and find your need in the market because there’s a need for you. Fill that need with your passion and the things that you’re good at.
Keep up with Jena by following her on Instagram @Jena_dominique.