When I was a freshman in high school – I learned that my high school went on a trip every year outside of the United States. During my sophomore year, the school was going to be visiting Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. I had to go! I had never been out of the country much less on a plane but this was my trip. I had a small little problem – money was super tight for my family, especially that particular year with having a new baby sister and my mom taking on school loans to go back to law school. My family didn’t have any money to spare. I still went to my parents and shared my excitement for the trip
They did something very special – they listened to me. They let me get excited. They let me dream. They also asked lots of questions including why this was important to me. The could have easily said no but they said YES with one big caveat – I needed to pay my full way. They would support me getting to every type of job I could get but I need to earn 100% of the money. I had a little over a year to make this a reality.
The spring of my freshman year while still playing lacrosse, I increased my babysitting gigs and began looking for more income opportunities. From that spring to the following year, I refed soccer, worked at soccer camps, life guarded, weeded and babysat a ton. By the time the trip came about I had fully earned the money needed to go on this amazing adventure. Still to this day, I am proud of this accomplishment.
The trip was incredible! There were so many firsts – flights, customs, new foods, travelling with people I did not know well, seeing incredible sights, learning about new cultures, my first awful sunburn and even an experience with having money stolen from me at the airport.
At the time of the trip, I thought going on the trip was the big win and it was but the greatest win was the foundation it created for my life ahead. I learned during my freshman and sophomore year that I was the one who was in control of my success. There were going to be challenges along the way – many of which would be out of my control but that was just part of the journey. This global adventure was truly a lesson in independence – financial independence.
There were so many other lessons too. I learned how important baby steps were. I learned that there were going to be distractions that could take me away from my goal. I learned that were often going to be competing interests. There were often times that despite really wanting to go on the trip, that I did not always want to work. I had to figure out how to fit other important things in like friends, family, academics and sports. I learned that committing to a goal sets the next steps in motion.
The foundation that was built from the lessons leading up to the trip have been drawn on often. It gave me strength and direction when I had to finance and work my way through college. I pulled on this foundation when I chose to work two jobs in my early 20s so that I could pursue a dream that did not pay well in the beginning. When I eventually chose to start my own business, I again drew on this foundation for reminders of what I can accomplish when I listen to the fire in me and am willing to do the work to get to where I am going. The foundation has even been helpful when I have been going after other big goals whether athletic or personal in nature.
What I have come to learn over time is that the foundation that was built when I went on this high school trip was laid much earlier. The foundation was laid early on by my parents and grandparents reading to us about other parts of the world. It was laid by my family believing in my siblings and I. The foundation was laid by my parents allowing and encouraging us to work anytime we were looking for extra cash, even in our middle school years.
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