For Many Students, Attending AMBI Can Feel Like Finding Acceptance. Check Out AMBI for Yourself in Vienna, VA
It started around a dining room table. It was just an idea, an opportunity. None of us had done it before. We had no idea what was in store. No idea what was required. I had built a practice, a referral only practice, which meant that every person in my practice was referred to me by someone else in my practice. So, building a school would be just like that right? Wrong. I will tell you that this process has been more than enlightening. It has been a stretch for my brain, my body, my soul. Life is funny, it takes us in directions we never knew were possible. If we are open to it and brave enough, we grab opportunities that come our way, and just maybe, an idea at a dining room table can turn into a school.
I have seen it over and over this past year, in many, different ways, opportunities showing themselves, and people deciding whether or not to grab on. One example this year, that made quite an impact on me, was a carryover from last year.
In 2017, I went to a job fair representing AMBI. I made it a point to introduce myself to every vendor and participant who ventured near our table, or near me, wherever I was. The conversations tended to follow the same course: “This is a job fair, why is a school here?” I would follow up with, let me ask you a few questions, and you will understand why I am here.” My first question was, “How much are you offering these new employees per hour?’ The response was usually between $10 to $13 dollars per hour. I then asked,” What are you being paid per hour to recruit employees?’ The response was usually $12 to $13 per hour. At this point, I would share that most of our students, right out of school, make $18-$25 per hour, plus tips (according to salary.com, average in this area is $36 an hour). Their mouths would then drop open, quickly followed by “Really? Maybe I should come to your school”. Of course, I agreed. I then explained the process, and by the end of our interaction, they completely understood why a school was at a job fair.
This year I went to the same annual event with a co-worker and saw many of the same vendors and participants in the same booths or, looking at the same job opportunities as the previous year, offering the same pay. I looked at my companion and commented on the number of familiar faces. He said,” I have been coming to these events for three years, and I still see many of the same faces”.
I’ve often thought of myself as a misfit toy. I never really felt I fit the mold of normal, or achieved what others desired of me. I have had multiple career paths and finally found my fit in the bodywork arena. When I saw the people at the event, coming back year after year, hoping for something to change, I thought, “they are just like me, misfit toys”. And when I look at AMBI’s population, I see misfit toys.
The people that come here are unique and special and have the opportunity to truly be themselves, many for the first time in their lives. Everyone has a place at this school, and everyone brings something wonderful to the table. Someone recently shared a quote with me from the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, where Freddie Mercury was quoted as saying, “We’re four misfits who don’t belong together. We’re playing for other misfits, they’re the outcasts right at the back of the room. We’re pretty sure they don’t belong either…we belong to them.” All the people who’ve never really felt like they fit in, who are yearning for something better, who know they are capable of great things…they belong here too.
I smile thinking, this is what is so great about what we get to do here at AMBI: we provide an opportunity to anyone who wants to do something different, who is looking for another way to exist. The opportunity keeps presenting itself, daily, weekly, annually, hoping someone grabs it. In 7 months, a life can completely change, and directly or indirectly impact all the lives that interact with it. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time, than helping people grab an opportunity, and follow it to a profession that facilitates health and wellness. Just maybe, an idea can turn into a life-changing career.