The summer after my freshman year of college, I was one of the most hated people in several towns in Illinois.  Complete strangers would see me and start yelling at me. People I didn’t know from Adam treated me like pond scum. My roommates and I got kicked out of our rental home in Collinsville, IL because we made our landlady’s adult children “nervous,” and we subsequently had to move south to Belleville.  Even when we lived in Belleville, I was working in Shiloh, and the people of that town hated me so much that they called the cops on me and I actually got escorted out of town by the cops.

So what does a relatively sheltered (and usually law-abiding!) small town girl from the frozen plains do to become so infamous and hated in so many St. Louis suburbs?

She sells books door-to-door.  That’s what.

Broke As A Joke

I really have no good excuse for my summer of door-to-door sales, other than the fact that I was broke as a joke and needed a way to pay for my sophomore year of college.  Loans did not sound like much fun. My single mother had her own plate full financially, and providing funds for my college education was not going to happen.

So somehow that summer I found myself selling books door-to-door more than 800 miles from home in the suburbs of St. Louis. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Up to that point, most of the jobs I’d had in my life had been pretty easy. They paid peanuts, but people were nice to me.

So it was more than a little bit of a shock not just to enter the sweltering inferno that is St. Louis in July, but also to enter a world where I was not liked. By a lot of people. And they were not afraid to let me know it.

There were so many days that I found I would be having a pretty decent day, meeting some nice people, maybe making a few sales, and then, BOOM! I would knock on the wrong door and suddenly receive a fiery verbal thrashing from someone who usually did not even need to hear one word out of my mouth to decide that they hated my guts.

It was HARD. Even though I thought I was a pretty tough chick, there were a lot of days when I was in tears. I couldn’t believe how terribly some people treated me.

However, this is not a sad story. I learned a LOT that summer, and I think age 19 was a good year to learn it. Because the fact of the matter is that life can be awfully hard, and everyone learns that sooner or later. Life is not always about everyone liking you or what you stand for– and sometimes the right choice for you is an unpopular choice with others.

Another great lesson that I learned that summer is that sometimes you have to fail a lot before you can succeed.  Even though I heard a lot of “no thank you’s” and was unceremoniously booted off many doorsteps that summer, I still achieved my BIG goal: when I drove home at the end of August I had a large enough bookselling paycheck to cover tuition for my entire sophomore year of college.

I think it is this last lesson that has really resonated with me as a blogger. My college degree has absolutely nothing to do with website design/maintenance, so I had a pretty steep learning curve when I decided to try my hand at this blogging thing.  Although Google has been enormously helpful, there are many things that I have learned about blogging primarily by doing it wrong first.

And I’m still learning.  Every day  In fact, more than a year into my blogging journey I can honestly say that I’ve only recently begun to feel like I kind of know what I’m doing- but the cool thing is that there is still SO much to learn. Just like my blogging “to-do” list is literally never empty, I feel like the list of things I have yet to explore or learn about blogging is also endless.

Support For Those Who’ve Been There

One of the most enduring habits that I picked up after my summer selling books is that I ALWAYS buy something from anyone selling anything door-to-door (within reason- I don’t buy vacuums)- because I’ve “been there” and I have such enormous respect for what it takes to do that job.

Similarly, I have a lot of respect for many in the Yakezie network because I know that you have “been there” on this blogging journey, and I know that this group contains a vast amount of experience and knowledge.  I’ve really enjoyed the Yakezie network because it has given me a place to virtually meet up with others who may be struggling to figure out the same things.  Or, more realistically, who know a heck of a lot more than me and can give advice.  :-)  Both are much appreciated at this point in my journey.

Thanks Yakezie!  I’m very happy to become a member. See you over at Color Me Frugal!