I was talking to an old friend the other day about my new business and it got me thinking. In the big picture I’m still relatively new at this. With all of the initial excitement and promotions and personal growth, it feels like I’ve been doing this for much longer than 4 months!
So, why did I get started in the first place? Because I had a ton of extra time on my hands? No. Because I love overloading myself with work? Not particularly. Because I wanted a discount on the products? A little. Because I want more money? Well, yes. On the surface, it was about making extra money each month.
I have worked for as long as I can remember. I started babysitting at a young age. First it was just my little brother, then my dad’s friends’ kids and the neighborhood kids. I babysat on the weekends and during the summers. I even took a babysitting class so that I could be First Aid and CPR certified! I really loved playing with the little kids and I REALLY loved being in charge! Being the boss made me feel important and responsible and when I was little more than a kid myself that was a huge deal. I never had a love affair with the money, I wasn’t very good at saving it. I used it to buy silly things like a blue pleather jacket at DEB in the mall. Yes this was an actual purchase I made with my babysitting money. Yes I’m embarrassed to admit that. Or chunky black shoes to wear with my… well everything. #sorrynotsorry I was a product of the 90s and a VERY long awkward phase.
In high school, I also worked at a grocery store after school. But not just any grocery store. THE MOTHER OF ALL GROCERY STORES!! Anyone who has ever stepped inside of a Wegman’s knows what I’m talkin’ about. I started working there when I was 15, the youngest I was allowed. I enjoyed being in control of my money. If I wanted to buy something, I didn’t have to rely on my parents. Again, I was not good at saving any of it but I worked so nobody could really tell me no. By the time I graduated high school, I had worked for enough years to qualify for a scholarship from good old Wegman’s! Yay for me! I told you, this place is amazeballs.
In college, I worked close to forty hours a week as a Life Skills Assistant in homes for people with severe disabilities. I did everything from giving meds, to doing laundry, to making dinner, to giving baths, to wiping asses. We played games together, we worked on personal goals, we went shopping at Walmart. We had “family” dinners at Ponderosa and went to dances at their community center. I had amazing relationships with the staff and the residents. My memories of this job don’t revolve around the money (although it was really good for a college student). They revolve around the relationships I built. I was a helper. A facilitator. I made people feel independent, standing in aisle two for 45 minutes picking each and every shampoo and body wash off of the shelf so that they could smell each one and decide what they wanted for themselves instead of me just picking one for them. I made people laugh. We had inside jokes – there’s one resident who used to call me “The Green Bitch” but I’ll save that story for another day. I went to school full time and worked 38 hours a week. I still think about them, the residents and my staff friends. I think about the impression they all left on me and I hope that in some part of them, I resonated. Even Dale, who used to call me a cunt whenever I changed his diaper. Despite Dale’s clear disdain, this was the job that made me change my major from Photography to Education and led me to where I am today.
Other random and short lived college jobs included: telemarketing, factory line worker, waitress at Denny’s and last but not least, Hot Topic.
Now, I’m going into my thirteenth year as a special education teacher in NYC. Some days I love it, others not so much. I had a very good friend in college change her major and switch schools because she couldn’t handle all the red tape that came with teaching. She didn’t want to be confined and pressured. She just wanted to teach and she didn’t think she could do that effectively the way schools today are run. Honestly, I didn’t understand her decision back then. But today, I get it. I now feel what she was talking about all those years ago. There are SO MANY obstacles for teachers. I love the creativity and craftiness of teaching. I love seeing the third grader in my class move up four reading levels in the short five months after she transferred into my class. I love seeing them mature and find their voice, no matter what they have to say. I love getting the “You’re the Best Teacher Ever” notes. I don’t love the frickin test prep. UGH. I don’t love taking conference notes every second of every day. I don’t love filling out spreadsheet after spreadsheet and analyzing data that I’ll never use. I just want to fucking teach, I’m actually good at it when you leave me alone.
Going back to my original question, why did I start my business in the first place? There is no simple answer. When I approached my BFF Robin about joining her team, she asked me why I wanted to do it. I told her then that I just wanted to be able to to take my family on a nice, stress free, paid for, family vacation. And of course, I still want to do that. But my why is evolving. The longer I work my business, the more I’m realizing that there is actually so much more to my story. This is just the beginning….
So, tell me about your beginning. What are your work experiences… the good, the bad, and the ugly??