If I had to identify one of the qualities that got me where I am today, although it might be a bit cliché, it would be that I am hard working. I am not just referring to the academic sense, I got my first job when I was 13. This was not because child labor laws were particularly lax in my hometown (yes, I needed parent permission to work 10 hours a week after school and weekends), but because working gave me a sense of autonomy and purpose. In my experience, when you love what you are doing, it does not feel like hard work.
My work ethic has followed me through my life, although I did have a bit of a "lazy" bout in my early 20's when I first fell in love with surfing. My first job was as a wrangler working with horses at a small ranch in town, mostly feeding and taking care of the draft horses. I always had some kind of part time job working all sorts of places including coffee shops, health food stores, clothing stores, and ceramics studios. I taught dance classes and dinner theater performances. I have been a hostess, waitress, bar tender and personal trainer. Waiting tables, by the way, is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done and the only one I quit on the spot. I think everyone needs to wait tables at some point in their life to appreciate how hard the people who bring you your food and refill your coffee have to work. Please be nice to your server and tip them well. One of my most rewarding jobs is a yoga instructor as it blends two of my favorite things: teaching and physical activity (much more on this to come).
Something that always surprised me in college was how many of my friends had college funds set up by their parents and did not have to work to go to school. As a single parent, my mom was not able to pay for our education. Having to pay for tuition and work while I was in school really made me appreciate and value my education. I took out a reasonable amount of student loans during my Undergraduate and Masters (much of which I saved to go on archaeological excavations during the summer but that is another story). I taught for the University of Utah to cover my PhD tuition. I fell in love with teaching my first semester and it is still one of my favorite parts about academia.
We spend so much of our lives working, life is too short not to love what we do. I likely would not have realized this if I had not tried lots of different things. If I have learned one lesson it would be not to settle. Be happy. Be inspired. Love what you do!
Class field trip teaching Pyrogeography 2013. Can you tell who is the MOST excited?