“I get really excited for new planners, new pens, and expandable folders,” she says, when asked if she’s a neat freak.
“Everything in my apartment has its own place,” she adds, and then can’t help but mention to me that she should probably clean her floors.
This Type-A personality is partly what makes her good at her job as Account Manager, but it’s also a completely misleading way to begin her bio. And with that, we dive into the paradox that is Taylor Jansen.
Super organized, highly disciplined, ex-cheerleader, ambitious, hyper-focused. She’s that person.
But at the same time, she’s not at all that person.
She’s also introverted, loves camping and spontaneous trips to anywhere across the globe. She has a personal philosophy and natural inclination to rise above the things that don’t matter. She follows her own path. She speaks softly and carries… probably a cool walking stick. Because of the path.
Her motto, if she had a motto, would be something like, “JUST BE COOL AND BE CALM!!” And right after she yelled that, she’d laugh and go back to being quiet.
“I’m gonna move away and start this new life!”
After graduating high school, she moved all the way to Tempe, Arizona to attend Arizona State University’s Interior Design program. She knew almost immediately it wasn’t a good fit. “I realized I wasn’t passionate enough to continue,” she said, knowing that she couldn’t pursue anything halfheartedly. It’s a big ask for a teenager to know themselves well enough to choose a profession out of all the possibilities in front of them, but she did learn something about herself during that time, in her communications classes.
The more she thought about it, the more she knew what she needed to do. She listened to her gut, and switched majors. And schools. She moved back to Missouri to study journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia. M-I-Z!
“Once I went to journalism school, everything fell into place.”
She knew exactly what would work for her, and she made it happen. Boom.
As Taylor talked about her high school cheerleading days in Wildwood, Missouri, one thing didn’t quite add up. I delicately hinted that she just doesn’t seem like… the type. She laughed knowingly and agreed. “I never fit into any of the cliques.”
This somewhat detached position — being in it, but not really in it — is where Taylor is most comfortable. Participating, giving it her all and working hard, but always rising above the thing she dislikes most: drama. Even as a teenager, she was keenly aware of having a healthy perspective.
“There’s a bigger world out there beyond matching bows and matching long sleeve shirts.”
Ironically, she quit the cheerleading squad in somewhat dramatic fashion. “I quit on homecoming night of our senior year,” she said, adding that she barely remembers the reason anymore. It was something about switching outfits, something that was unnecessarily complicated or emotionally fraught. She only remembers that it clearly signaled the end for her, and she left.
“I casually removed myself… just politely grabbed my stuff and went on my way.”
Exasperated expressions of disbelief from the other cheerleaders.
Taylor with her back to the screen, walking alone, along a path into a sunset, having already forgotten about cheerleading and high school, and making plans for her next big adventure.
Some of Taylor’s nature-loving nature has deep roots in Wildwood, Missouri. “I spent a lot of time riding on backroads,” she said. She walked to both elementary school and high school, and spent a lot of time running around outside. “Wildwood is its own little world,” Taylor says.
She still lives close to home, but has been more places in the world than most people go in a lifetime. With an insatiable wanderlust and a love for outdoor music festivals, Taylor makes exploring the world a priority. “Some people enjoy spending money at fancy restaurants or drinks at the bar,” she says, “But any extra money I have goes to traveling and music.”
Like the time she was having a casual conversation with a friend from college. “Wanna come visit me in London and we’ll go to Glastonbury?” her friend asked. And the next thing you know, they were in England, outside at the Glastonbury Music Festival with hundreds of thousands of people.
Another time, Taylor while she was studying abroad in Argentina (NO BIG DEAL), she and her roommate, Kenzie, dreamed of going to the salt flats in Bolivia. They compromised, and spent 4 days camping in the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah instead. Bolivia will surely come later.
“I like to be off the grid,” she said, embracing the chance to disconnect, turn off her phone and do what she does best, which is be chill as hell.
Taylor has gotten a lot of use out of her luggage in the past 3 years. The list of places she's been in the last 3 years alone will make you wanna buy a ticket to anywhere.
Kansas City, Missouri
Salt Lake City, Utah
London, United Kingdom
Next stop: Thailand!
“I didn’t really recognize race until middle school. It didn’t phase me, that’s just who my family was. I just saw all people as people.”
Taylor has an interesting vantage point in the American racial dialogue. She comes from a blended family — her mother is black, and her father is white — but it’s not immediately apparent that is the case. “I feel like I get a glimpse of how people actually feel about race when they’re not editing themselves.”
She struggles at times with whether or not to let things go, or make people feel uncomfortable. She often opts for the latter. “I try not to get mad about it, but it makes me realize how people are ...”
On the positive side, it’s helped her have a much broader perspective than most people are afforded. And she enjoys seeing the tapestry of her family and what has come before to make her who she is. As she puts it: “It’s funny on holidays to look around the room and see the two halves of the whole me.”
Taylor still helps take care of the family dog, a cocker spaniel named Buddy. She’s (yes, she’s) 15. Her family got Buddy when Taylor was in 5th grade, and her younger sister, Lindsey, was in 2nd, and the dog is like another sister to the girls.
“I love that lil’ Tootie so much,” she gushes, using the sometimes nickname she and her sister gave Buddy when they were kids. “I think it fell out of ‘cutie patootie’,” she explains, “Nothing related to farts.”
So beloved is this little lady, that whenever Taylor is around Buddy she is required to FaceTime Lindsey (who’s going to school in Houston), just so she can see her dog-sister too.
It’s not surprising Taylor has taken up the practice of yoga. And that she takes it very seriously. With a background in dance, cheer, and an overall love for movement, it’s a perfect fit. More than that, there’s something very wise, and very, well, meditative about Taylor’s presence.
“It’s the next best thing in my life, after family and friends,” she said.
Touching on the disturbing phenomenon of virtue attached to busyness in our culture, she explains, “Some people like being busy, always being on, always checking.” Yoga fits perfectly into her personal philosophy. It allows her to slow down, detach, and reset. "I notice now in stressful situations, I'm more aware of my breath, and I try to slow it down."
Basically, if Taylor is breathing slow, you know somebody just messed up.
Taylor is exactly the kind of person you want with you when shit goes down. In fact, she’s probably who you want in charge. Because while everyone runs around in panic, Taylor will be calmly delegating tasks, taking notes (in a really cute planner), and observing everyone until they can be quiet enough to listen to reason. And if she needs to tell someone to straighten up and act right, she’ll deal with this fictional apocalypse as she always deals with conflict:
“My words have been said. You can react and feel what you want, but those are my words.”