I was born in Aurora, Colorado but spent most of my childhood moving from state to state (my Dad was in the Marine Corps). By the time I was 12 years old, I had moved 8 times. I was lucky enough to attend Jr. High and High School in the same town - Fort Collins, Colorado. Although moving had been in my childhood past, steady friendships and settling down was sure to be part of my teenage future.
I experienced a mix of schooling options from Kindergarten through 12th grade - private, public and homeschool. I never truly understood what the point was. Math and science didn’t interest me in the slightest, but I knew I was supposed to get good grades so that I could then be accepted into the college of my choice.
The problem was, college sounded like an even bigger trap to me. The idea of spending hours (after an already long day in class) on homework each night revolted me. At least in high school, I could slide by without spending much time on the “busy work” that was assigned for home.
In my junior and senior year, I spent time talking with my parents about my goals and dreams after graduation. I was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t see college as the right fit for everyone. They knew me, and my talents, and agreed to let me do something that sparked my interest more than anything ever had - beauty school! I enrolled in the esthetician program at my local cosmetology school and was able to graduate 100% debt free.
The summer after I graduated esthetic school, I married my high school sweetheart and began my career as an Esthetician. I soon realized that giving facials not only was a relaxing career to have but one that allowed me to add value to others’ lives. I remember seeing amazing changes in clients skin (and my own!) that made each day great. I ended up in a leadership position less than a year into my career and loved the challenge it provided. I was responsible for 3-5 people during my time at this day spa, and that grew my interest in leadership. I began reading up on this new interest and attending seminars to challenge myself further.
As I was well into my third year as an Esthetician, I remember a new feeling overwhelming me. It was the unsatisfactory realization that I was doing less than God made me for. At the time, my husband was pursuing his dreams of running his own audio visual business - and succeeding. As I was going through a slow season at work, I had a lot of time to reflect and watch his business grow. I realized I was becoming stagnant, and that I had new passions that deserved to be pursued.
You see, when I was young, I had the dream of being a “businesswoman”. Putting on a blazer and fancy watch every day, and heading to the “office”. I always wondered what everyone did from 9-5 each weekday, but it seemed so glamorous. Now, as I pondered my esthetic career and life ahead, this thought came back to me.
As an adult, I momentarily laughed at myself for the glamour I associated “business” with as a child, seeing the true sides of a startup via my husband. But there was one thing I was certain about -
Everything about business suddenly fascinated me.
The organization, sales, marketing and finances behind my husband’s career was something we frequently discussed, and it got me thinking - I can do more than I’m doing right now. Don’t get me wrong, facials and hair removal still made my day great. However, now I had a pep in my step each time I thought about beginning a new career.
I thought about my other passions - travel, wellness, leadership, and customer service. There was a whole new world for me to explore! I began spending my time on the internet researching travel tech companies instead of makeup tutorials. I signed up for a business newsletter to be emailed to me each morning. Slowly, I started learning about acronyms that were foreign to me, like SEO, B2B, and IPO.
The next step in my educational journey was daunting, however I had no place to move but forward. I wanted to continue my education but knew college wasn't the right choice for me. I heard about a crazy-sounding startup called Praxis - a business apprenticeship program. A friend of mine had just been accepted into the program and told me that I, too, could become well rounded in sales, marketing and/or operations - all I had to do was apply. If I got accepted, it would cost a fraction of what a business degree would.
Fast forward a few months - I'm currently participating in the program. I've learned more in the last two weeks than I did in grades 6-12 combined. I hope to put multiple passions of mine (if not all) to use in the business world upon graduation.
Breaking the mold educationally happened for me the moment I stopped worrying about being "normal".
Normal to me, would have been accumulating $30K in student debt. Normal would be going to college even when I don't know what my passions are. Normal would be starting my career as a coffee-fetching intern. Normal doesn't always sound like the best option, does it?
I challenge you to think about these questions - does your work make you full and proud? Are you adding the kind of value you hope to bring to the world?
If not, maybe it's time for you to break the mold too.
Heidi is an esthetician and a business apprentice. She lives in Colorado with her husband Steven and dog Florence. She hopes to put multiple passions of hers (if not all) to use in the business world. You can keep up with her over on instagram @heidi.spi or on her blog!