meet jen woodward
The publicist and founder of SixTen PR who believes you’re able to pick a partner that will love you when you love yourself.
Do you have any practices in place to help you destress?
If I feel like I need energy, I do karaoke! I’ll do it midday, but if I have an assistant or a PR associate downstairs working, I won’t do it because they’ll probably hear me. So as soon as they leave, I’ll get out my karaoke machine.
I’ve always loved to sing. I’m not a particularly good singer, but I love it. I read a long time ago that when you sing or scream or do anything where you’re deflecting energy from your body, your mind goes into a complete endorphin release. So I would sing a lot in the car when I used to go back and forth and had to commute. I would sing Broadway songs in the car or whatever popped into my head. But Disney is my go-to.
What or who grounds you?
Every morning I wake up earlier than my partner, so my dog usually wakes up with me. She comes out and we have cuddles and we feed each other and watch each other do whatever we do in the morning. She brings me immense joy like most pets do to people.
What do you do for self-care?
I do a lot of skincare, which I never really did before until the last couple of years. I either do gua sha, put a mask on, or even put on several masks during the day. I’m pretty bad at discipline. So it varies from day to day and also changes based on what my skin needs and the time I have. But I’ve been obsessed recently with gua sha and lymphatic drainage massages. We hold so much tension, especially women, especially in the stomach. I hold it in my jaw and in my neck, so it’s a great way to wake up in the morning and see the difference, but also release any tension I had from the night before.
How has your mental health been lately?
It was really great coming into fall, and then it dipped a little bit. In my head, holidays were going to be about seeing people, hosting people at the new house, and having a rager for New Year’s Eve. Then all of a sudden, everyone was scared again. Everyone was dropping like flies; everyone had Covid. I probably started to hide a little bit for the safety of myself and others, but I didn’t like that. And as time went on, it started to break me down a little bit.
“I felt a lot of stress during the holidays with not being able to socialize or that I couldn’t just go out and do things.”
But when I’m stressed, I try to remind myself that I’m very lucky and that some of these things are first-world problems. I try to exercise or sing or do things that make me happy. And sometimes, I go into a catatonic state and turn on Law and Order and watch SVU reruns.
On Instagram you said it wasn’t until adulthood that you accepted your Asian heritage. What changed?
It was a really long process. When you grow up in a transracial adoption, only around majority Caucasian people with no diversity, you don’t want to assimilate. But you also have no way to not assimilate. And you have no way to familiarize yourself with your actual culture because there’s no one around you like that. It wasn’t until late in my twenties that I started to work and play in different social circles, where I was given the opportunity to meet people from all over. That’s when I started to open up more about my culture and heritage. Then around 2018, I went back to Korea. And once I did, I fell in love with all aspects of it and was very interested in the food, the culture, K-drama, and learning about things through that.
“But if you asked me in 1990 if I could be proud of being Asian, I don’t know if there was a lot of pride that was outwardly being shown.”
We weren’t allowed to celebrate other people’s races. We weren’t able to watch a K-drama. We weren’t able to watch Crazy Rich Asians and see hot Asian men and women that weren’t being objectified. So time has also helped that and where our society is today.
Is there anything that you hold in shame or feel stigma around?
In my teens and my early twenties, I definitely went through a weird transition period. I was a rebel and my parents and I didn’t get along. I moved out when I was 16 and I struggled through those years to support myself. There were things that I did and situations that I put myself into that were pretty bad and I’m very lucky to come out safe and sound and a productive human. I could’ve gone the other way. But I don’t feel shame. It’s something that I’ve had to accept and say, okay, that happened. That’s part of my life. And now I move on and do this part.
What prompted you to move out of your childhood home at 16?
Back then, I thought it was my parents. They were strict. I’m adopted, my sister is adopted, but she looks exactly like my parents. I was the firstborn and I couldn’t do anything right. Everything was a struggle. I also craved empathy. From a young age, I would watch movies and want to be transported into that situation. I wanted to do drugs. I wanted to go to rehab. There were a lot of ups and downs. There were visits to so many psychiatrists and therapists. I was put in programs. I don’t know if the west coast has this, but it was called PINS, People in Need of Supervision.
“I was a troublemaker, but always on the surface because I always knew how to pull myself out. Eventually, my parents said, we can’t do this anymore and so I said I don’t want to live with you anymore. I moved out and moved into a friend’s house, which wasn’t easy.”
My parents and I had a tumultuous relationship into my mid-twenties. But when I moved across the country to California, we became closer. I saw a change in my parents too. They started to accept me. They don’t understand this life, but they’re very proud and very excited and want me to send pictures of everything that I do. We still fight a lot about certain things like politics and religion, but in the end, it’s come full circle and it’s both of us accepting each other for who we are and saying, well, this is family and we love each other.
How does intimacy and relationships impact your mental health?
In the past, intimacy has been easy for me, but it’s not easy to maintain. Because I was adopted, there was always this issue, especially when I was younger, of abandonment. Is this person going to stick around? Does this person really mean, I love you? There’s always a test. Early on in my relationships, I would push you away immediately. That’s something I’ve grown out of. I still test people, but it’s much less because I have trust in myself and trust that I’m going to pick someone to be in my life, whether it’s a friend or a boyfriend, or a lifelong partner that is going to love me because I love myself.
But I feel like I’m more intimate with friends because it’s less of an obligation. A friend can make you mad and might say that upset me. But if your partner says something that makes you angry, you’re screaming and yelling. There’s such a difference in your reaction. You expect more of your partner, your husband, your wife. But I would say I go through waves of intimacy. Sometimes I’m a very sexual person, sometimes, I’m not. It’s important to talk and communicate that with your partner, so they understand what’s going on too.
Is there anything that is an ongoing stressor or makes you anxious?
Money, for sure. Financial stability, having your own business. As a freelancer, you can have an amazing month and then you can have a shit month.
Also, what stresses me is comparison. Knowing that I’m approaching 40 and thinking of what I thought 40 was 30 years ago and what it is now. Forty is what our parents were, what our old teachers were. It isn’t what we are. And now we’re very young thirties. We’re very young forties. But also I want to own a house. Should I have kids? Should I have more than one car? Should I have another house somewhere? Are there things that I should be doing? The house, the two cars, the kids, the dog, the engagement ring, the marriage, the big wedding. So those are struggles because I still have an old-fashioned brain when it comes to that stuff.
When do you feel most at peace?
In the morning, when no one is up.
When do you feel your body tense up?
In the afternoon after working.
What gives you serotonin?
What does your body language say about you?
I can’t lie. I don’t have a poker face.
When do you speak your mind?
All the time.
next story — annelise hillmann