As I continue on my annual reflective journey with my birthday rapidly approaches, a common theme coming up for me in my daily work is one of education. Whether it’s because of the people who reach out to me for my expertise or the time I spend to educate myself on any of my multiple subjects of interest. I spend a lot of time applying the knowledge I have gained during my time as an esthetician that I have just recently started accepting the role of an educator. Yes, I know I don’t have a teaching degree but the basis of my work centers around education. The tricky part about my line of work is that it isn’t always valued as an esteemed profession. As I previously mentioned in my “perception” and “becoming an esthetician” pieces, I had to trust my instinct and ignore the naysayers when I chose this path. I hear it when people in my life sort of avoid talking about my profession or simply have no idea what I do regardless of the fact that they know that I work a lot. The lack of interest usually comes from a lack of understanding or even perhaps a projection of insecurity. Which took me a long time to not take personally. I don’t get mad when people lump me into a cosmetology profession and ask me about their hair. I don’t flip out when someone asks me if I had to go to school for my work. I only have to pass a state board test like Doctors and Nurses do to be able to obtain the right to touch you but I get it, that may not be obvious. And I really have to let go when someone asks me if I do this as a hobby. I’m not a housewife that was gifted with ample time to just play with products and work on my friends. If anything, I wish I had more time to work on my friends but they know more than anyone how hard I had to work to get to where I am. Something I had to really overcome over the last decade (and more) was how education affected my self worth.
As someone’s who’s first language is not english and was placed into an english school for the first time at age 10, my sense of confidence in my learning ability was a little shattered early on. I learned how to speak english just as soon as I learned how to speak french, however I went to a french school and had mostly french speaking relatives. When I first started reading in english I felt advanced because I had found a collection of old Archie comic books at my grandparents that I became obsessed with. So the reading level I was at when I started a english school was tested immediately when I took about 20 minutes to read a paragraph aloud on my second day of school. I was tested in American History within my first week and received a giant “F” because HELLO I NEVER TOOK AMERICAN HISTORY BEFORE. To be frank, I had an awful teacher who may have just been ill equipped to deal with a foreign student like myself. When my math grades were consistently great, my teacher asked how I could comprehend one subject so well and not another. I told him that math is the same in all languages and that still didn't trigger a light bulb to go off for him that I might have just needed more help. Even though I never struggled in school up until that point, I was immediately put in a box of average or less than average academically. I even recently found my old academic folder that stated that I should have been held back because of my comprehension at the time - which in hindsight I would have really appreciated. Fast forward the next 7 years and I graduate high school with a 4.0 gpa and was on the honor roll every semester starting from my freshman year. I worked really hard to prove to myself that I was smart, I was worthy of being an “above average” student. However, even though I proved it to myself, I still didn’t feel smart. I felt like I had anxiety about school, taking tests and meeting all of the goals I thought I had to follow through on. That all changed when I went to college. I realized that I’m much more the go getter who was never going to thrive in an academic environment if it was forced. I chose to follow my bliss instead.
Having an entrepreneurial mentality wasn’t something I recognized about myself for a long time. Realigning my mentality about education where a grading scale didn’t equate to my self worth also took a long time. I appreciate the conventional steps people take for success in their lives and that a college degree and high gpa can play a very strong role in that path. I spent a few years trying to accomplish a degree but was faced with the inconsistencies of what obtaining that on my budget would entail. I placed out of a lot of science and math classes so that I could dive right into more courses that would relate to my major when I was 17 so when I tried to go back to school at 21 I was told I had to start all over. None of the transcripts would transfer because it had been too long. Most of my friends were still in college at this point but I would have to start over? By the way, I only felt shamed to go back to school because I had a boyfriend at the time who equated his worth with a college education and projected his low self worth onto me by telling me he didn't think I was doing anything with my life. Uh, okay unemployed musician I'd love to take career advice from you but I'm too busy paying trying to pay all of my own bills while your dad pays yours. I started slowly by taking the necessary algebra course, which I had previously taken my sophomore year of high school mind you, and it was so disheartening. In order for me to accomplish any form of a degree I would still be in school now. That wasn’t my path and even though I felt it was a crutch for such a long time, I know that I have been continuously working on my education the entire time. I read a lot and would take a lot of classes from skin care companies. I would ask others to explain different methodologies to me. My clients have taught me new things every single day. The exchange of knowledge and information has opened me up to a whole new level of education I never expected. With the right thirst for knowledge and obsession with helping others I have maintained a sponge like attitude towards absorbing new information each day. Without this career I may never have learned as much as I know about health and wellness. Working on one organ has led me to a greater understanding of how all of our organs and systems work as whole. It’s introduced me to different cultures and opinions. My politics on life have evolved because of the worldly clientele I have encountered and learned from each day. Over time I became much more than an esthetician but more of a health coach and knowledge vessel for my clients and peers. Now I’m in the process of developing a program for fellow estheticians, training a highly skilled licensed esthetician on therapeutic skin coaching, traveling the country with the educational platform Skin Food Talk that I co-founded and have written almost 80 blogs that circulate different educational circles in my community. They say those who can’t do teach, but what if those who don’t have a college degree are self educated enough to grow past the societal norm?
So the next time you think you have to follow a guided path to become successful, remember that you have a unique presence in this world that may not fit the mold. Allow yourself to open up your mind and heart to new experiences of education. Take every opportunity to expand your beliefs on your capabilities because you don’t deserve to feel boxed in like I did in 5th grade. If you follow your bliss, the universe will provide you with the abundance of knowledge you can learn and share. For me, it's important to never be the smartest person in the room. I will devote myself to expanding my knowledge always and to finally let go of the shame that I had growing up towards how I was boxed in as "average" because let's face, I'm anything but.