“Do the thing, and you will have the power” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Let’s talk about this simple, beautiful, little quote. At first glance we may think, “The THING? What thing?” But, once you re-read the words a few times, and the “power” part settles in, deep down, you know what the “thing” is. It’s that nagging thought that keeps you up at night. It’s what you know you are CAPABLE of, but feel is unattainable. Could be switching careers, moving, or simply talking to someone. For me, “the thing”, was dropping out of college. You read that right, I wasn’t trying to get INTO college, I was (subconsciously) trying to escape.
Since I can remember, every birthday card containing money was to be “put away for college”. It was considered a non-negotiable equation in our home to save, go to college, and thrive. This was always perfectly fine to me, I had always wanted to go to college, as a social butterfly, it looked like a REAL good time. I got into my first choice, The University of New Hampshire. I was excited because it was exactly 60 minutes from my parent’s house, (not too close, not too far), I had hometown friends already going there, and the food was top notch. Sign me up.
My first semester at UNH was a blast. I made tons of friends, joined a sorority, and was thoroughly enjoying the delicious food halls that the campus had to offer. However, there was the “thing”. The “thing” that kept me up at night, and eventually started nagging at me during the day as well. And that thing was my future career. I had immediately chosen “communications” as my major. I’m a fabulous communicator, and I love to talk, seemed like a no-brainer at the time. Until that whole career question kept coming up, and all I could think was, “I don’t even want to do any of these careers.” I had to do the work of looking in the mirror, and diving deep into the whole “Who am I?” What do I really want?” stuff. Turns out I wanted to help people. I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to get into the Salem State College Nursing program and I transferred right over. I’d love to tell you I crushed it, and now rock some badass scrubs. However, there is nothing to say about THAT experience except, nurses, I don’t how you did it! After one semester it was clear I could not handle that workload. I could help people some other way, and I bid farewell to my nursing dreams.
Two colleges down, two to go. After Salem State I had a quick stint at Curry College in Boston, and ended my college jumping career at a local community college. Four colleges, four years, no degree. TONS of debt. Surviving. It was while I was at the community college that I had to finally address “the thing” again: my future career. Was college not for me? (I mean, CLEARLY, but at the time I was in denial). My amazing mother kept begging me to look at the local hair school, as that was always a fun, hidden, talent of mine. However, dropping out of college to go to hair school would be a huge hit to my ego. Having to tell all my family and friends that I just couldn’t do college, and I’m going to be a (gasp) HAIRDRESSER?! I thought I was better than that, and I thought wrong.
I agreed to just take a tour with my mom, and the second I walked into that cosmetology school, I was home. I could SEE myself there. I went even further and I saw myself thriving there. By the time I left that little tour, I had a vision for myself. I saw myself helping women not only look, but also FEEL their best. I saw myself having fun, being creative, communicating, and helping people. THRIVING. Today, ten years later, the vision is real. I still have no college degree, but I am a level 6, associate educator, at one of Boston’s most prestigious salon companies. I got over my ego, and I did the thing. I quit college, and it sure feels like I now have the power.
Maybe your thing is something small, like finally talking to that person at work who gives you the butterflies. Or huge, like finally starting your dream business. I don’t know what your “thing” is, but I do know what will always hold you back – and that’s your ego. I was so caught up in what my family and friends would think of me becoming a hairdresser, I lost sight of my true calling. I like to think Ralph Waldo Emerson is simply trying to let us know, we DO have the power, and we’ve had it all along.
About the Contributor:
Athene lives just north of Boston with her husband, 10 year old son, and 3 year old daughter. She loves being a coach for her salon company as well as a fitness and life coach. Athene believes that what we think about, we bring about – and that we can find the light in everything.