Bria Justus was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, spending every weekend of her childhood on the trails or in a tent camping. When she went off to college in Washington, DC, she realized that something was missing and that her heart was meant for adventure and the outdoors. Now, she spends her summers and any off time back in the Pacific Northwest, traveling or adventuring and documenting it all on her blog.
“My goal is to encourage myself and the other 20-somethings out there to find themselves and live their life for them, simply and unapologetically. And for me that means adventuring whenever and wherever I can.”
We just love your adventures from your blog, The Simply B. What inspired you to share your adventures? What are some of your goals with your blog?
Writing more was my new year’s resolution for 2017 and I knew if I didn’t publicly declare my resolution to the internet (and family and friends) then I probably would never actually stick to it. So, I made a blog. At first it was a hodgepodge of life rants and stories from my travels and now it has slowly turned into a somewhat consistent combination of travel guides, experiences I’ve had and a documentation of how the outdoors has guided my journey to self-love and finding my true self (a daunting task for a 21-year old but hey I’m trying).
At the end of the day, my main goal of my blog is to encourage the 20-somethings (and older-somethings) of the world to be intentional about finding themselves. I want people to know that it’s okay to be different and to not succumb to all the societal expectations and norms telling us that their is a formula to success and happiness, and that at the end of the day all that matters is that you are living your true self, simply and unapologetically.
You state that one of your missions with your blog is to encourage yourself and your readers to live the life of their dreams and to unapologetically be themselves in a world dominated by ridiculous social norms, often seen in social media. How do you believe a life of travel and adventure is advantageous to becoming a more confident and powerful individual?
Being a women in an American society, there’s a set of expectations put upon you, many that contradict each other. You have to be skinny but not too skinny, you have to have big boobs and a big butt but no cellulite, you have to have ambitions but not be selfish, you have to assertive but not bossy, you have to find love but establish independence, you have to have fun but not too much fun. It can be A LOT. So, to avoid that, to not let those expectations dictate what I do I seek adventures. Because on the trail, exploring a new city halfway across the world, camping in the middle of nowhere, summiting a mountain, I’m away from all the people, the marketing, the social media campaigns telling me who I am supposed to be. Out there, I’m just me, simply and unapologetically.
When I’m halfway up a mountain and my calves are shaking, my legs are weak, my hands are covered in dirt and I’m struggling to catch my breath let alone keep going I’m not worried about what I look like, I’m not worried about how much I weigh or what I look like in a bikini I’m just focused on making it to the top. And once I’m at the top I’m still not concerned what I look like because how can you scrutinize your body when it has the ability to take you to these beautiful places that cars cannot reach.
So, in a vague answer to that question is that I find confidence in my own happiness. If I can find a way to be genuinely happy, doing what I love and accepting myself for who I am, then I feel confident and if I’m confident I feel pretty dang powerful. Because when you love yourself, like truly love yourself (which is a constant journey) then no one (including society) can have control over you.
Where do you currently live? What are some of your favorite local spots for adventure?
I currently am living in Portland, Oregon. I spend every possible free time I have in the Columbia River Gorge or Mt. Hood National Forest, hiking, discovering new and old trails and seeking out new spots for a sunset picnic.
What are some of your favorite hiking spots from your travels?
I fall in love with Dog Mountain during wildflower season.
I never get tired of a sunset picnic at Trillium Lake during sunset.
And I love to climb up to Coyote Wall because you get a 360 view of the whole Columbia Gorge.
What are some of your favorite hiking spots from your travels?
I fell madly in love with the hiking in Interlaken, Switzerland, a medium size town at the base of the Swiss Alps. I hiked Harder Kulm (a popular hike there) twice and still want to go back to do it again. The hiking is endless there as well as the adventures. I’m hoping to go backpacking there once I graduate.
How did you get into hiking? What is it about hiking that sparks your passion for the activity?
You could say that I’ve always hiked. Since I was 4 months-old my parents would strap me into a baby carrier and hike with me. I grew up 40 minutes from the Columbia River Gorge (home to over 500 hiking trails) and every weekend we would load up the car and go either hiking there or camping near by.
However, I continued hiking (on my own two feet this time) because, as cheesy and cliche as this sounds, it refuels my soul. After pushing your body to it’s limits to see absolutely beautiful views, you leave with a clear and refreshed mind. My most creative thoughts come when I’m hiking. You’re away from reality for a little and just surrounded as life should be, untouched, unprocessed and beautiful.
How has hiking made a positive impact on your life?
Oh wow, where do I start… hiking has given me confidence, hiking has eased my anxiety, hiking has given me a creative outlet, hiking has strengthened my relationships, hiking has taught me what my own strength is, hiking has taught me patience.
My favorite thing about hiking is probably how it has the power to strengthen your relationships. When you’re going down a cliff or at a hard part of a hike and someone is there with you, struggling with you, sweating with you, helping you and motivating you, you create a bond and a sense of trust with them. That kind of bond is hard to create elsewhere.
You also have such incredibly beautiful conversations on the trail. Since no one is checking Instagram halfway through a dinner conversation or has a meeting they have to get to, you get to have quality time to talk about real things.. It’s the deep conversations you get to have with people on the trail that are probably my favorite part.
What other outdoor adventures or activities do you participate in?
I’ll try anything. I love kayaking, I live on a floating home so I usually go kayaking every morning. I’ve recently become obsessed with paddle boarding, especially doing yoga on a paddle board. That’s some fun stuff if you manage to not fall. I also love to run outside. Last year I completed my first half marathon and it was a trail run through a forest and it was amazing and quite addicting.
What are some of the most memorable stories from your adventures?
One of the most memorable stories I have is from this past Christmas (2016) where my family and I were in South Africa at our friend’s game farm (a game farm is where animals roam freely, somewhere where you would go on a safari). On Christmas night, four of us decided to take the jeep out at about 11pm and go find the lions that we had been hearing. For reference, the jeep is an open jeep with a barely working brake, no clutch and a torn roof. Our friend Rebecca was driving us and we had made our way about 30 minutes from the house before it started pouring down rain. So, as the roof was almost nonexistent we were getting soaked. We started to head home but as we were going up a hill the car stalled, stopped working completely, and we slide down the hill into a bunch of thorn bushes. We all had to push the truck up the hill in the pouring rain hoping that eventually it would start working again.
We were outside of the truck, with no lights, no working phones and in the middle of a game farm. Where there were live wild animals. Did I mention we were looking for LIONS??
It took us about 45 minutes of pushing the truck to finally get it to work again.
We were sweating, we were soaked head to toe and standing amidst thorn bushes so our clothes were all torn.
I’ve never been so scared for my life while laughing uncontrollably in my entire life. It was amazingly scary, something I’ll never forget or be grateful for that the truck started working.
How do you personally define “success?”
I define success by happiness. As a college student I am constantly being told that I need to work a 9-5 job behind a computer screen in a city, invest in a house and save for retirement in order to be successful.
However, that honestly sounds horrible. For some that may be their version of success but that would not make me happy. I would define success has discovering your true self and living out your life how you want to, simply and unapologetically. If you find happiness in teaching yoga, find success in teaching yoga. If you find happiness in writing, find success in writing. If you find happiness through travel, find success in travel.
If you’re living your best life for you in a way that does not harm anyone while being financially stable then that is success. Success takes a different forms for every individual, there is no one formula to get there.
I also like to find the little successes in life. We often look at success at something that is happening in the future, however I think success can happen at any point. If you write a blog post, teach one yoga class, buy a tiny home, buy a one way plane ticket, all those things can be a success and deserve to be celebrated.
As long as you’re being your authentic and true self, you can find success.
Who do you look up to? How do they inspire you in the way you live your life?
Lately I’ve found myself looking up to people my own age. My best friend, Ashley, has worked so hard and been incredibly intentional about living a life that is true to herself, authentically and unapologetically. It’s inspiring to see her stay true to herself, especially in a college atmosphere where there are constant expectations to take on an unpaid internship plus take 5+ classes plus make money by working part-time and on top of that all go out at least 3 times a week. The expectations are a little crazy in DC for college students and people get rewarded for stressing themselves out by an unrealistic schedule.
Instead of accepting those expectations, Ashley has intentionally rejected them and found success through doing what makes her happy instead of what other people expect from her. She has found her happiness through teaching yoga. She has pursued a dream to become a yoga instructor and has worked so hard to accomplish that. It’s inspiring to see her, and other young women take control of their own life and be intentional about finding their own happiness outside of societal expectations.
We at This Adventure Life want our readers to live life fearlessly in the pursuit of living their ideal life. What would your advice be for someone who wants to live fearlessly and pursue their wildest dreams?
My biggest piece of advice is to be intentional. I say this a lot in my blog posts but I’m a huge fan of intentionality and what I mean by that is be intentional with how you think about things, be intentional about what you do, be intentional about who you surround yourself with and be intentional about how you pursue your dreams. Don’t walk through life aimlessly without reflecting on yourself, your accomplishments and your goals because without reflection it’s hard to determine if you’re living a life true to you.
I try and set intentions for myself every month to help ensure that I am living my best life or at least moving toward a better place. In order to live fearlessly you need to know what that means for you. So set aside time at the beginning of every month and reflect on your dreams and if you are moving toward those or not. For example, in order for me to live my ideal life I need positivity and I need flexibility. Last month I realized that some of the people I was surrounding myself with were constantly being negative and thus making me think negative. So, I intentionally decided to distance myself from them. When I was with them and they were being negative I tried to be intentional about making the conversation into a positive one.
Being intentional gives you the power to move your life in the direction you want it to. You won’t just stumble upon your dream life, you have to work toward it and put in the effort to make it the life of your dreams.
Intentionality is key.
Where is your next adventure?
In a couple weeks I’ll be climbing South Sister at Sunrise, so that’ll be an adventure for sure! We’re starting the climb at 1am.
Follow her on Instagram: @simplyboutside
Read her adventure blog: thesimplyb.com
At This Adventure Life we celebrate the lives and stories of the people who live life fearlessly. #livefearlessly