Staying within the limits of his comfort zone is not Jeff Jenkins’ style – his motto, after all, is “life begins where your comfort zone ends.”
The Texas-based travel journalist is the host of National Geographic’s new show “Never Say Never with Jeff Jenkins,” and he’s more likely to find himself in a sumo ring in Japan, swimming with sharks in Mexico or dancing with penguins in Patagonia.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: It’s incredible what you’re doing with this new show. How did you get into this travel journalism bit?
Jeff Jenkins: I used to be a high school choir teacher, and I actually taught at Manor High School; I did that for nine years, realized I didn’t want to do that. And I got into entrepreneurship and I asked myself the question, like, what do I truly want to do? If money wasn’t an option, if whatever I was to dream up was to actually happen for me, like, what would you do?
And I was like, I want to travel the world, help people and get paid to do it. And that’s what took me down this journey of content creation and becoming a journalist in the travel space. And then I realized that nobody was talking about like being plus-size and traveling around the world, and so I wanted to be that representation.
You are a poster person for “follow your dreams.” I mean, really, all that advice over the years – “follow your heart; go with what it is that you really want to do” – you made it happen.
Yeah, I’m not surprised, but I am surprised. And like, now I tell people, “yeah, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid.” It’s one of those things of – it sounds woo-woo in a sense – but like literally committing to what you wrote down or you dreamed up. Because I promise you, as a kid, I had really big dreams.
And then I think just as life started going on or adults always was like, “Nah, let’s be more realistic. Let’s just find a job that you can do and work for somebody just to have that security.” And if I just stepped out, which I started doing, and started dreaming again and gave myself permission to dream, it was really easy to commit to those dreams.