Your Own Lemonade Stand

Milo & Eliot's lemonade stand

Your Own Lemonade Stand

Have you ever known anyone who does badly on every job they ever hold, but does great when self-employed? Are you that person? Do you take an unfair hunk of criticism for it, feel attacked for a failure to adjust? Does this somehow not feel right to you?
When I was looking for my first full-time job, I was heavily criticized for not wanting to work as a secretary. Because I was good at it, too many assumed I should look no further–as if I couldn’t possibly succeed at anything else. Today I worry that many others are brought down emotionally by trying to fit into the lock-step of some corporation, someone else’s pre-ordained decision about which of the countless potential jobs that person should focus on.
Clearly, it is not problematic to enjoy routine work in large companies; we couldn’t survive without people who do. Can you imagine a world without anyone to do paperwork, or packing and shipping, or countless other somewhat routine and but extremely critical career paths? (Next time we ask for that documentation or receive that properly-handled package, let’s give a nod of appreciation for the people who took the trouble to honor that job by doing it diligently.)
When I tried to do secretarial work, it was such a bad match for me that I found myself getting too bored to fit in the way I was expected to. That experience served me well, though, now that I am responsible for my own record keeping. My job in a yarn shop lasted four years, and was an excellent fit. I especially enjoyed the teaching, a joy that carried over years later when I taught at a community college. These were all jobs that gave me a great deal of independence, with some of the same benefits the self-employed enjoy.
For some of us, our earliest jobs lead to becoming more entrenched, finding our niche in the corporate structure. For others, they serve as training for striking out on our own. Some utilize more of a hybrid approach, holding a full or part time job, while building a side business after hours.
How has this worked for me as a counselor? Very well, thank you. Like most professions, there are regulations I have to follow, so the idea of totally doing as I please is folly. But I do set my own hours and rates. I picked out, furnished, and decorated my own office. And, within the limits of the rules established by the Board, I make my own choices when it comes to solving whatever problems come up along the way.
Some people enjoy the good fortune to know early in life what career path they will pursue; others take longer to find their niche. But once that niche is found, those people find themselves doing their very best work. And the joy they bring to that work is contagious. It’s kind of like having your own lemonade stand.

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