Looking back there were two big moments that I remember and would classify as independence days. These were days where I recognized my life is my own and the next steps for my life were completely up to me. These were days full of possibilities, freedom and discovery.
The first was the morning I woke up in my dorm room at Georgia Tech in August of 2009. When I woke up I finally felt the weight of the long journey that it took for me to get there. After 18 years of being a maker and science nerd I was finally in college studying to become an engineer. Waking up at Tech came after dozens of conversations with people about whether or not I should even go to college. I had been featured on major news outlets. I was still getting fan mail from my segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show and EDEN BodyWork’s products were selling well at over 1000 Wal-Mart stores nationwide. There were people who told me I should focus on keeping my business thriving and not get distracted with higher education.
In fall of 2009, EDEN BodyWorks was about to have its 5 year anniversary. It was a major milestone for me because very early on in my entrepreneurial pursuits someone gently mentioned that according to the United States Small Business Association half of businesses fail within the first 5 years. But EDEN BodyWorks hadn’t failed. Due to the passion and persistence of my team EDEN BodyWorks was growing and thriving. I felt like I needed to do “this college thing” for me. I loved being a CEO but I never expected it. I’ve always wanted to be a creator but I never would have guessed it would be in hair care. So waking up at an engineering school was a huge wake up call to see if this was really the right step for my life.
Long story short, balancing school and work was tough. I learned a lot about time management and about what’s important to me in life. I learned to make more time for the people that matter and to be ready to continuously learn. My time a Georgia Tech prepared me immensely for my career, but what it didn’t prepare me for was life outside of that.
Living on campus gives you only a small taste of what “the real world” is like. It’s a tiny ecosystem designed to help you learn and grow with community support. My second independence day was the morning I woke up in my first Seattle apartment in May 2013. I wasn’t nervous about starting my new full time job at Microsoft. I was worried about what I
was going to do when the work day was over.
I had gotten familiar with my role as Program Manager and made friends during my internship the summer before. But after unpacking, getting groceries and getting my new Washington State license I felt overwhelmed by the expansive options I had for what to do in my newly discovered free time. I started the decision making process as I usually do by making a list of things that I like to do. I used this list to explore things on my own and as a way to share what I loved with others.
As I reconsider writing this list I’m glad that it wasn’t full of things to accomplish or places to go. It helped me lay a personal foundation for how I like to spend my time. I’ve learned that my careers are how I impact and change the world and that the person I am is also valuable to me. I am confident in the choices that make me who I am. I take responsibility for the decision I makes. I celebrate my freedom to choose and I hope to encourage others to do the same.
To keep up with Jasmine follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @edensjasmine