I bet you’d never guess how I paid for my own apartment while I finished high school and saved for University at the age of 16..
While this isn’t everyone’s dream when it comes to getting through the teen years, it was my reality.
By the time I was 16 years old, the trauma of my childhood ran deep. I was often suicidal and felt like an outcast. I felt that no one would notice if I wasn’t around and realized that I had to stop placing my worth on what other people thought, even my parents. Most people never knew that I carried his much pain.
I decided that the only way for me to survive was to move out of my home and get away from the chaos in order to *try* to find my path in life. So I did. It was a last-ditch effort.
I rented a small house from my grandparents and paid full rent, even though they tried to give me a break – no way was I taking it. I worked full time at a grocery store while I attended high school full time, which didn’t give me much time to get into trouble…good thing.
I started in the seafood department and ran it like it was my own business…until I could no longer ignore the smell – on me, In my hair, on my clothing, which at the time was a super sexy pair of coveralls, and eventually in my little home. I knew I couldn’t quit, so I decided to get creative.
I approached the bakery, knowing that I would welcome the delicious aromas of freshly baked bread. I could handle taking that smell home…and I thought it would be a boyfriend magnet!
I told the manager that I could be an awesome cake decorator for them and she promptly hired me! I finished out my scheduled shifts in the fish zone and showed up on my first day as a bakery girl, ready to go! I was all-in, except for the fact that I had never held a piping bag in my life. I had been around them, I had eaten a perfectly decorated cake or two, but never created one myself (unless easy-bake oven cakes count).
The manager was away the first week I started and in her place, was the most experienced, absolute Saint of a cake decorator that ever did live. I told her about my predicament but that I was a quick learner and that I’d stay late for as long as it took for me to be the best decorator there. She laughed and said “come on” as she filled a piping bag with icing and positioned it in my hand just so…and it began. I was SO grateful for her. I’ll never forget her because she believed in me – even though I totally fudged my way in.
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By week two, cake decorating became my craft. I was obsessed with what I could do and with how many cakes I could make in a shift – almost doubling others’ numbers. I LOVED IT and the bakery manager loved me. I did end up coming clean about my start because that’s just how I roll…things worked out.
I have taken the underlying thread of this initiative and applied it many times since. I was able to get leadership positions with way above average pay for a student to put myself through university and graduated with a $10,000 debt compared with the $40,000 debt of my peers.
Upon completion of University, I landed my dream job immediately and even negotiated a few months to back pack Europe on my own before formally starting my awesome new position. I have never been the top of any class, I most certainly have an undiagnosed learning disability which causes me to learn at an extremely slow speed and exams were a nightmare for me, despite studying circles around my friends. But I still was one of the 15% of the class to land a job in my field right out of the gate.
The pearl is that I’ve never acknowledged the idea of “can’t”. I don’t even see it as an option. I keep myself just a little naive about what others do or expect or think so that I don’t adopt their limiting beliefs. I have a high level of self-awareness (now), I connect with others easily for the most part and I have a servant’s heart. That’s it. Nothing groundbreaking. Just believe in what you’re capable of and take action.
The sky is actually NOT the limit.