If you had told me 5 years ago that I would create my own small business, I would have laughed. When I pictured my life, that was never in the cards.
I have always wanted to make a positive impact, and am hard-wired to work towards change. From a young age, I can remember making unconventional environmental decisions. In elementary school I made posters to save the rain forest (I was that kid), at 13 I became a vegetarian (and still am). When I learned about human-made climate change and how much damage was being inflicted on the earth, my heart hurt. But my personal responsibility seemed so minimal in the grand scheme of things, and it didn’t factor into my career decisions.
So instead, after graduating high school I pursued a career in education. I wanted to create real, lasting change, to build relationships with students, guide them through learning with grace and compassion. What better way to make a difference in the world? For four years I studied elementary education, and surfaced on the other side with a diploma in hand, eager to step into my own classroom and make my positive impact on the world. I had the knowledge that I needed to succeed, and I was ready to put it to the test and mold the minds of our younger generations.
How wrong I was.
For three years, I taught. I taught three different grades at two separate schools, and it broke me. By the end of the third year, I could no longer recognize myself. I hated who I had become – angry, easily irritated, ashamed of my students’ lack of progress. No matter how many reassurances I was given by friends and family that I only had to give it more time and it would click, no matter how many administrators provided me sage advice about new strategies to implement in my classroom to handle behaviors or provide clarity to my kids, it didn’t make any difference. It didn't make any difference. The more I sunk, the worse my teaching became. It was a downward, and rapid, and vicious spiral. I looked towards my fellow colleagues with awe – how readily they connected with each child, with such effortless ease they drew new learning out of even the most reluctant minds. So in March of my last year teaching, when I had all but given up and was so painfully aware that my students were suffering the consequences, it was almost a relief when my administrator told me I would be stepping down from my teaching position and finishing up the school year as a district substitute.
For a long time, I wavered tumultuously between emotions: anger, resentment, shame, relief, gratitude. Failure just wasn’t something I was accustomed to. It wasn’t something I had experienced to such a visceral degree. This defined me, to my core. It meant I wasn’t good enough.
When the school year came to a close and my position as a temporary substitute was terminated, I officially felt untethered. I didn’t have a clue what my next step was. Being a chronic planner, this feeling was terrifying. (Any chronic planners who can resonate with me here?) I wouldn’t be allowed to teach in my district for two years, and it was the only formal training of any kind I possessed. So, in an effort to build something out of the ashes, I picked up hours at my part-time job as a cashier at a large retail chain, and sought out an internship at a local environmental nonprofit.
What a breath of fresh air it was to start over! My days teaching still haunted me, but I began to restructure how I viewed my work. I reassessed my motivations – I still wanted to make a difference. And with stepping into the environmental field through my nonprofit work, the doors were finally pushed wide. This was a do-over, and I was going to take full advantage.
My next do-over began with co-founding a business with a business partner nearly a year later. For the next 10 months, the two of us built a business (something I had never considered for myself) from the ground up, carefully shaping and molding, learning from our mistakes, and realizing (sometimes too late) that the modest advice of “you don’t know what you don’t know” was so, so incredibly true. But we did it! We built a business with a customer base and a message and an impact. So when we decided to go our own ways and pursue our own visions, I stepped down as co-founder and, with a hint of giddiness (rather than the trepidation that had plagued me in my previous career move), decided to build my own small business.
This has been an adventure I could not have imagined for myself. It has led me in ways I never anticipated for my life; and yet I am here, fully embracing this new road. I am so honored to grow with you and be part of your journey through Summit Sustainable Goods. I know about feelings of doubt, or failure, or hesitation, of goal-making and accomplishment. I am ready to talk about it all. So, to my incredible community and fellow journey-goers on this adventure of life, welcome.
Welcome to Summit Sustainable Goods.