It’s a tale of two cities – New York City and somewhere-Eastern-Montana converging in this real-life love affair that is both relatable and inspirational.
Jessie Knadler was a NYC girl – until she met Jake, an old-school gentleman in cowboy boots. Soon after, Jessie traded in the big city lights for chicken coops in the country for a marriage with her cowboy. What came next? Jessie found herself Rurally Screwed…much to our luck, we get to come along for the ride.
Meet Jessie and step inside her true-life love story…
SG: Describe the experience of getting your first book published, Rurally Screwed.
JK: Professionally I feel validated. I can finally legitimately call myself a writer. The comments from people are great, like, “You’re a great writer…” .That has been incredibly rewarding for me because as an artist and a creative person, I constantly second guess myself: ‘Am I good or do I just suck? Am I the worst person, the worst painter, sculptor, writer, in the world?’, so [getting published] has been very rewarding on that front.
I also think that my story is universal to a lot of women, how we give up so much of ourselves and sometimes what we give up is too much. Sometimes we compromise who we are for the sake of our special relationships. I think that speaks to a lot of people.
THE ART OF COMPROMISE
SG: Let’s talk compromise – a major theme in Rurally Screwed. Whether it’s compromising in a relationship, at work, etc., what is the line where compromising becomes too compromising?
JK: It’s such a tricky thing because we want to go outside of our comfort zone, that’s a very important part of life, you want to push yourself, you want to do things that are unfamiliar, that’s how you become a more well-rounded, stronger person. But in my own experience, building farm fences and being a farm builder and doing all of this rustic manly stuff, instead of feeling proud, I actually felt foolish. I felt foolish most of the time and the foolish feeling never went away and after a couple of years feeling really foolish I finally just looked in the mirror and said ‘What am I doing? I don’t have to do this stuff just because I live in the country and I married a cowboy, I can be myself.’ I think it comes down to, do you feel proud and happy or do you feel like an idiot?
SG: Absolutely. I like the Idea of finding honesty in your emotions that way. Do you find your honesty more quickly or do you still find yourself in foolishly compromising situations?
JK: No. I feel like I finally know who I am, what I’m about, what I’m put on this Earth to do and I feel very focused now after so many years of feeling lost and confused about where I was going in life; that feels phenomenally wonderful.
SG: When have you experienced your own personal crossroads moment and how did you get through it?
JK: My husband had a lot to do with my ability to keep pushing, he wouldn’t let give up even though I wanted to give up. Even when I walked out on our marriage, he always provided a safety net and open arms.
SG: In the book, you talk about the time when you had had enough and walked out on your marriage, went back to NYC, where feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment followed you. You discovered that your feelings weren’t tied to where you were, they were stemming from you, so no matter where you went or who you were with, you felt the same. This is a huge discovery – one I’ve had myself! How did you move past dissatisfaction?
JK: I finally realized, ‘Wait a minute, it’s not the country that’s making me unhappy I’ve always been unhappy. I’ve always been on the run. I’ve always been looking over my shoulder. I’ve always had this grass is greener mentality.’ At some point I knew that that mindset was going to destroy me and my marriage. If you’re always looking over your shoulder you’re never going to be happy. For me, it was looking at my life, my track record [and realizing] that I’ve never really been happy. I don’t want to be that person; there are too many people like that out there, too many miserable people. I don’t want to be like that.
SG: That’s absolutely right, my natural tendency is to look at the glass half empty. I have to constantly will myself into seeing that there’s something in the glass at all!
JK: Right, at the same time, your outlook, your glass half empty outlook, is probably what kick started you to start HerExchange and to actually make something of yourself. So there is something to be said for ‘I have to do better!’
BREAKING INTO THE BUSINESS
SG: It was such a professional journey for you to this place now of great professional success, what advice do you have for someone who is entering this job market right now?
JK: You have to be fearless, that’s number one. You have to be willing to put yourself so far out of your comfort zone because the people who put themselves out of their comfort zones are the ones who get noticed. The people who play it safe, “No, I don’t want to call this editor for the 5th time,” those are the ones who have a harder time getting a job. You just have to start harassing people, if it feels like harassment you’re doing a good job.
JK: Being shy doesn’t really work; you tend to just get ignored. You have to be the girl who goes up to an editor at a luncheon and say, “Hi, my name is…. I really enjoy your publication, can I drop the portfolio of my clips off to you?” That’s how it starts; you have to be fearless because everybody else around you is full of fear.
SG: You and your husband, Jake, are polar opposites. Is the old saying true, opposites attract? Is that the secret to a lasting, happy marriage?
JK: I don’t know! I think when you meet “The One”, you know it; it doesn’t matter if he’s wearing a cowboy hat or khaki Dockers. I don’t know if opposites or similarities have anything to do with it. When you look in someone’s eyes and you see a similarity it doesn’t matter what their outward appearance is.
SG: I think you lucked out with Jake.
JK: I definitely did.