My name is Zoe, I am 20 years old and the newest member of team Yobel. I graduated high school two years ago, and have just now, this year, begun living independently and going after the dreams that I thought I would be chasing two years ago when I walked across that stage.
Graduates of high school, college, trade-school, etc. Let’s all take a moment right now: close your eyes and take a deep breath...in... and out. *loooooong sigh* Good. I want to acknowledge the place that you’ve been for the past couple of years- you are coming to the end of a highly stressful and straining time, academically, emotionally, relationally, and physically. And you’re about to transition into something new. My guess is that the majority of you are stepping into a place where you have no idea what to expect. No matter what this next season of your life looks like, transition is always uncomfortable and at some points will be scary. It is requiring something new of you, a larger part of you to show up and be in ways that you haven’t done before. Congratulations! Congratulations on choosing to be present, and to be brave as you step forward. I have complete faith that it is going to be amazing.
After high school ended, I never went to college, but worked, quit my job, traveled for a month, then came back home to work and live in my parent’s house. I stayed there for a full year, until January of 2019, when I moved to Chicago to become TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified. When I graduated high school, I was determined to be unconventional, to travel the world, and to be successful while doing it. Yes, these are all still huge goals for me. It just took a lot longer than I anticipated to figure out what that looked like, what I needed to do to work towards that, and how little progress I would make in a year. For the longest time, I harbored shame in the fact that I stayed at my parents, working a job that I did not love. But here is the truth: That path was what I needed at the time, and it gave me invaluable life-perspective and skills I would not otherwise have. In that part of my journey, I learned how to adjust and thrive in hard places. I grounded myself, learned who I am and what I want to learn from the world and give to the world. Through reminiscing on all of that, here is the advice I would like to leave you with:
1. You cannot compare one life choice with another and decide if one is ultimately right or wrong.
When choosing whether to go to college or not, which college to go to, what job to accept, where to live, etc. Any path that you choose is going to lead to a different view than the other, and I wholeheartedly believe that you can find beauty wherever you end up. You will choose one direction today and in an instant it could change. That’s okay. Learn to listen to what you want, what you need, and give the best version of yourself wherever you are. There are going to be times when you need to adjust your focus and your stride. Always, always, always, remember that life is not a race, it’s not a competition, it’s about finding joy, being grateful, and being authentically who you are, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
2. Whatever you choose, know it’s going to be an uphill struggle in different ways.
Accept that you are going to have to put in the work if you want to succeed and achieve whatever is in your heart to achieve. Be your number one cheerleader, and believe in your dreams, even when it feels like others don’t.
3. Take advice from people who you know believe in you and have your best interest at heart.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to shut people’s opinions about your life out, and when to heed to them. Life is about this balance. Take wisdom from the people in your life, especially your family and friends. And in the same breath, question if the advice they are giving really is for your benefit or if it is pushing an agenda that doesn’t align with your values. I was very grateful to have people in my life who believed in me and more importantly, actively supported me through all my dreams, post-graduation.
Each one of you, graduates, non-graduates, and everywhere in between, you are so unique. Your life journey is never going to look the same as the person next to you, and that is the absolute wonder of this journey, so take it in and go shine your own light into the world. We love and support you 100%!!!
“We need jobs, and we need a way to put our children in school.” This statement, spoken by internally displaced Ugandans, resonated with Yobel co-Founder, Sarah Ray.
If these strong, resilient, hardworking, motivated individuals had access to dignified work, they would be able to provide many things for themselves that charity would seek to do for them. Things like school fees, clean water, nutritious foods, secure housing, clothing, and transportation. Jobs sounded like a good way forward.
Yobel is proud to be the sole purveyor of Ethnotek products in the United States! Co-Owners, Clay & Emily Ross were initially drawn to this incredible company’s techno-hip bags because of their high utility features (like this camera bag designed by photographers) and strong ethic toward both people and planet. As a conscious consumer, you can feel good that Ethnotek’s slow-production materials are sourced in person from the villages where they are created. Each artisan piece is purchased directly from the person who made it, for a fair price.