I was almost seventeen when I felt I’d finally tasted life. And it was good.
The first taste was me getting my first job, something I thought I’d never be able to do.
Ever since I have laughed at my younger self. And I laugh at those who say they can’t find work. Here I am, technically unable to have work, and I can’t keep up with the influx of jobs.
There’s something about working that enlivens humanity. It doesn’t necessarily give us purpose, but it certainly breathes and validated our purpose and goals in life.
Work makes living possible, and not only in the literal sense.
That bit of life I’ve found through cleaning houses and babysitting … from making my own money … inspired me to not give up on the fight to be free.
I was never a normal child. I hated playing outside with the kids … it was always more interesting to sit in on the adults’ conversations. There were always so many things to learn … but whenever I opened my mouth to ask a question I was quickly noticed and told to, “Go be a kid and play.”
Of course I rebelled.
One of the most important things I learned was about lines on forms.
“Never leave them blank,” the adults said.
When a document needed a social security number you didn’t write N/A, or worse yet “Against my religious beliefs.”
You put down numbers. For different places different numbers worked. For some, all 0s or all 9s worked. Occasionally one should use 1s.
It’s been one of those pieces of information I’ve always kept tucked at the back of my mind, never knowing how crucial it would be. Or exciting.
I think I was born to be a capitalist. I love working, and I love seeing my work become money. I first got serious about “business” when I found $54 dollars on Walmart’s parking lot.
“Mom, look!” I think I was eleven at the time.
I was going to take it in and turn it in to Walmart, but Dad said since it was cash they would probably just keep it.
So now a poor eleven year old suddenly felt very rich. What was I to do?
I would invest.
I already knew how to embroider, sew, and knit. The logical thing to me was to invest in my skills and make things to sell. I bought beading and jewelry supplies (which I still have and use to this day), flower sack towels, embroidery floss, and peaches & créme yarn.
I sold these things by walking up town streets, calling in on a local radio station (I actually ended up trading the towels for more books than money on there), and through custom orders to people around me.
When I was sixteen I decided to expand my entrepreneurship. I sold all sorts of things on Craigslist, and quite successfully for awhile.
When my dad found several pickup loads of books in the dump, I started selling books on Amazon. I made hundreds doing that, but as soon as I hit fifty sales Amazon shut me down because I didn’t have a tax ID number. By that time I was successfully making money with other endeavors of mine, so didn’t try to fight it.
On January 8, 2013 I started an Etsy store. It never did as well as Craigslist or Amazon, but this was still a monumental step for me, for it is the day my mom came up with the name “Keturah’s Korner“, and Etsy is what gave me the motivation to apply the knowledge I’d stored away about blank lines and strings of like-numbers.
It took me a long time, but I was eventually able to attach a direct checkout system to my Etsy store … I tried using several different numbers, and I believe it was all 2s that worked for filling out the SSN section.
I was elated to have bypassed that required SSN section.
To further my business more, I opened a PayPal account. At first I attached my dad’s banking account and my mom’s ID, and again I played around until I was able to bypass the SSN field.
It was small, but this has always been one of my favorite achievements. I have since attached my own ID and banking accounts.
Shortly after, with a homemade notarized birth certificate, I was able to get a photo ID. With this I would be able to do much, include flying.
These may all seem like small, inconsequential things to many of my readers. But to someone who thought she might always have to live a life doing nothing, these were my seeds of victory.
They were enough to give me hope for a time.
If I could give you one thing to chew over, it’s this: try.
You might fail. But then you might not. Either way, it’ll be hard. So why not do what’s hard with hope rather than with bitter despair?