“You don’t look like a wedding planner,” my college guidance counselor told me.
In my head, my jaw dropped. What did she just say to me?!
In reality, I cocked my head to the side. I clutched my daily planner so hard my fingers turned white and said in my most passive-aggressive voice, “Oh? How so?”
She leaned forward, put her elbows on her desk and steepled her fingers. With her pointer fingers pressed against her lips, she gave me the look. You know the one. The “oh, bless your heart” look.
“You’re not blonde,” she said thoughtfully. “You’re short. You just…don’t fit the wedding planner look.”
Then she gave me a one over and smiled like she wanted to continue to say, “You also don’t dress the right way and you need to wear more makeup.”
My blood was boiling. I was here for one reason: to make sure I was on the right track to graduate (in one semester). I wasn’t applying to the event management program (I’d already been in the program for over a year) and I wasn’t asking for anyone’s opinion about my looks (had I stumbled into a modeling agency or something?), so why was this happening?
Aside from my anger, I wanted to curl up and cry. I’d been interning for a florist/wedding planning firm for a few weeks and I really enjoyed it. Was my guidance counselor on to something? Would I not be able to get real, paying work if I wasn’t tall, blonde and gorgeous?
Instead of bursting into tears or throwing my huge planner at her head, I took the high road. I smiled sweetly and said, “Do I have enough credits to graduate?”
Ten minutes later, I walked out with my head held high, my final course list in my hand, and a strong urge for cafeteria fries.
This happened at a college that’s consistently ranked as the #1 or #2 hospitality school in the world. And if it happened to me there, what’s happening everywhere else?
I’m obviously not a wedding planner today, but that’s not because of the encounter with my guidance counselor. There were very little jobs in hospitality after the 2008 crash (even in Orlando), but I could get a non-hospitality related job in my hometown easily. So, after earning my first bachelor’s degree in hospitality and event management, I moved back home.
After a couple of years, I went back to school and got my second degree. This time, I discovered my passion: graphic design.
Nothing prepared me for the places this love would take me. I did freelance work, designed posters for a local theatre with big headliners, landed a job at a print and design company, and got into design and marketing at my next job.
Eventually, I found weddings. Then I created Sablewood.
The moral of the story here is that naysayers are everywhere – and I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot. These people are “helping” you graduate college. They’re your jealous competition. They’re even your family and friends – who probably mean well, but at the end of the day, still need to support you rather than bring you down.
Creative or not, you need encouragement to nurture your soul.
It’s more important than ever to find your person or people who will encourage you, support you, tell you when you’re wrong (but still stand by you), and make you work harder than you ever have before.
If you’re looking for a great group to join, start with Facebook! I’m part of several groups that are fantastic and I’ve developed real friendships from them. I have a list below of some great groups, mostly for industry professionals or stationers:
If you haven’t yet, I hope you find your people. If you’ve got a tight tribe, don’t let them go!