Hi's Eye

Why I’m glad I got a job instead of playing sports

Rollins Terry, E.I.C

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During my freshman year, I ran cross country and two seasons of track, which seemed like a logical extension of my not-so-successful soccer career. I loved being on a team; it was a great way to get involved in the high school during my first year. But during sophomore year, I chose to deviate from the path of sports and apply for a job, even as many of my friends continued running. After working an after-school job for two years, I can say that it is definitely the most rewarding extracurricular activity I have pursued in high school.

I started working at Fire Me Up! (FMU), an art studio located in downtown Cranford, in April 2016. I have always been an independent person, so I initially went into it because I liked the idea of taking on something that was completely my own, as well as the prospect of earning a biweekly paycheck. But in the past few years, I have also learned invaluable skills about responsibility and relating with people.

When I first started working at FMU, I had a customer approach me and ask if I could package her pieces and some glazes so she could work at home. As I talked to her some more, I learned that she suffered from agoraphobia (a fear of being alone outside one’s home), and that her art was the only thing that motivated her to leave the house. I was able to sit down with her and help her figure out the quietest times of the week to come in. Now, she comes in every week, always bubbly and excited to be there.

After working at the studio for a year, I was given the opportunity to run my own art class for elementary-school children. I make lesson plans 12 weeks in advance so that we can print a calendar for customers, and I’m responsible for gathering the materials and executing a one-hour class. Over vats of sequins and slimy clay, I have formed relationships with my students, which has been a blast.

While sports are undoubtedly a great option for high-schoolers, nothing beats getting out into the “real world” and engaging with people whom I otherwise would never have met. I learned how to connect with impatient children and angry customers as well as how to be accountable to an employer.

I can’t say that I haven’t groaned over my share of clogged toilets and sinks overflowing with dirty paintbrushes. Unlike other jobs that my friends have held, FMU doesn’t allow me downtime to work on homework or check my Instagram. But now that I am preparing to go to college and take on life challenges on my own, I am especially grateful to my sophomore self for choosing a job over sports. And it doesn’t hurt that I get paid to splatter paint and host birthday parties.

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