My mentor in high school and I would butt heads a lot. He taught me for two full years of high school, because I was constantly taking independent studies or AP classes, that only he had the jurisdiction to teach.
While I was always a good student, I was never the first in the class. He would be hard on me, because he always knew that if I spend a little bit more time studying, I could be.
On one occasion, I remember him telling me that everyone had 24 hours in a day, and I CHOSE not to study in those 24 hours – so the 86 that I made on my test was my own fault. I remember feeling so angry that I wanted to cry— because I had always push myself to do so much. By “so much”, I don’t just mean in my academics.
I started working when I was 14 years old, and only months after I started my first job, I began a second. I took eight hours of dance week, voice lessons, beauty pageants, and was in multiple theater productions a year. I juggled friendships inside and outside of school, volunteered, and was an active member of my church.
I basically wanted to be a 15-year-old Renaissance woman, and he wanted me only to be a good student – how boring is that?
Flash forward a decade later, and it is no surprise that I am somehow incapable of working a 40 hour week, and seem to be focused on about 100 projects at one time.
Some say that I’m a glutton for punishment, while others say that I’m crazy, overworked, and “if I would only focus on one thing I could be very successful at that, rather than spreading myself too thin.”
Maybe I’ll never be the best at any one thing— but I guess that’s never really been my goal. As a multi-passionate person, this is the only way I know how to be, and it simply leaves me feeling unfulfilled to pursue one project at a time.
Sometimes I wonder what my high school mentor would say to me now if I ran into him at the grocery store. I imagine that he would make several jokes about my love life, and somehow find ways to both give me compliments and tease me simultaneously.
But the 15-year-old version of myself also hopes that he would be proud of the fact that I wasn’t just a good student. That I figured out early on that there was a way for me to be good at many things rather than just one or two. That if there was something I set my mind to, there would be a way that I could accomplish it on my own.
When I was in high school I would be ashamed if I ever got a B+ on a test, but now I realize that it helped shape me to always strive for better. If there was something that upset me like a bad grade, I learned that I should focus more attention on my studies the next time to do better, and maybe focus less on my extra curricular activities for a few weeks. That while schoolwork was not always my number one priority, it was important to me, and there is a time and a place for all of my activities.
As an adult, that looks a lot like pivoting throughout my business and focusing on different elements of the company during busy season’s versus slow ones. Admittedly, I get burned out about 2-3 times a year and when that happens, it takes me a week or so to really get back into the swing of things. By constantly working on new things, it helps me to stay excited about the work that we’re doing and to focus instead on what’s on the horizon, rather than on the things I wish I had done differently.