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Meet Emily L. Holland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily L. Holland.

Emily, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up in Upstate New York on a Christmas tree farm, I had a lot of the natural world at my fingertips. We would do ‘nature walks’ with my mom through the woods, naming different plants and exploring the nearby rivers and lakes. After college, I found myself a bit lost, meandering from a sales job in New York City to living in Boston and working at an international education company. I kept searching for things that made me come alive and was struggling to find it while struggling to understand adulthood overall.

I had hiked and camped a lot as a kid but moved away from it when I was in college and in my early adulthood. So when I moved to Boston, I found myself wanting to rediscover the natural world, and use my free time to be a weekend warrior up to the closest mountain range, The White Mountains of New Hampshire. Simultaneously, I started rock climbing at a local gym and fell in love with the feelings of strength and presence that came with it. I started to write about my experiences, and how going outside was profound for my journey of self-reliance and awareness. So I started writing a few pieces about my time outdoors, gear reviews, etc. and ended up starting an outdoor podcast, The Stokecast, with my co-host and co-producer, Jonathan Ronzio, almost two years ago. We wanted to have a platform to speak with the people we were excited about in the outdoor industry and hopefully inspire others along the way.

After a few years of traveling three hours one way to go to the mountains, my boyfriend and I decided it was time for us to move to a place with closer and easier access to the things we wanted to do in our spare time. So we moved to Boulder to infuse more of our everyday life with the things we loved, running, hiking and climbing. When we moved, I used it as a time to fully reset. We were working remotely for our corporate jobs but I wanted to make sure I was putting in the work to establish myself as a presence in the outdoor industry. Now, I’m a freelance writer, working for the Clif Crew, and have some exciting big goals and projects coming up in 2020. I’m still balancing this with my full time, corporate job from home.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m not at the end of the road yet, in fact, I’m just merging onto the highway. One of the most challenging parts of moving into the work you really feel passionate about is the imposter syndrome that comes along with it. There are large bouts of self-doubt that cloud my thinking process, with bursts of self-confidence and competence. I’ve found this is common among people who I would never ever think question themselves, in particular women. What I’ve found to be helpful when you’re feeling this way is to find folks who can support you along the journey, mentors that care about your path, and seek out others who have overcome similar obstacles.

But the important thing, at least for me, is that I’m doing something and trying to build something that I truly care about, and at the end of the day, all the challenges that come along with it, will create a whole picture life thoughtfully designed and created by me, and me alone.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
My writing and content creation is intended to be thoughtful, provocative, and sometimes, deeply sarcastic. I try to take a more realistic approach to some of the things that a lot of people in the outdoor industry take very seriously. I try to use my writing to promote vulnerability amongst a lot of perfectly curated experiences and content we are constantly bombarded with on all social platforms. I’m in no way a pro athlete or expert in any particular sports, but I think I’m more known for writing about creating your own epics, and your own definition of what ‘rad’ is.

I have a huge curiosity about learning new things, whether it comes to new mountain sports, or understanding and continuing my education about social injustices, historical contexts and internal, mental work. I infuse these learnings and questions into my writing in hopes of creating dialogue with those around me.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Every year, we went camping at a small place in the upper Adirondack mountains, Rollins Pond. My entire dad’s side of the family would come in from all over the Northeast and we’d have 5-6 campsites in a row, with a big beach on a small lake with no motorboats allowed. This place holds a lot of my favorite memories, like playing whiffle ball with our entire family in a nearby lot, or making s’mores with my cousins by the fire, or our ‘happy hour’ when every person would gather for sunset down on the beach and bring snacks to share.

But one of my favorite memories is when we all hiked Mount Marcy, the tallest peak in New York State, and a beautiful introduction to hiking. I remember getting to the rocky, exposed summit with my cousins, Danny and Chris, and it being completely socked in with fog. I remember this rush of accomplishment that came over me, in the form of pure glee. This was my first real introduction to real hiking, hiking up an actual mountain, and I remember it fondly as a distinct pivotal moment in my life.

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