Lessons From a Ski Bum
When I graduated from Michigan State University with my undergraduate degree, I did exactly the opposite of what my parents wanted me to do. I moved to Aspen, Colorado and became a ski bum. Yep. I made my parents un-proud and awakened their expletive vocabulary. They had just spent thousands of dollars on my college education and I chose to forego a real job to follow my dream - living the life of a ski bum.
I moved to Aspen. Worked the typical 2-4 jobs at a time. Skied and snowboarded my winters away. And three and a half years later, I re-entered the real world by way of graduate school.
Now, before you weigh in, let me share the best lessons I took away from ski bumming. In fact, maybe you will read this post and plan your ski bum experience (or encourage someone else to take one themselves). Either way, email me. I'll come ski with you. Pinky swear.
Lessons From a Ski Bum
Lesson #1: When you ski bum, you become a master at balancing work and play - a lesson that most of US America could stand to learn. As a ski bum, you work your tail off doing whatever jobs you can to support your addiction - skiing (and/or snowboarding). You always make time for both - work and play - as you understand their symbiotic, essential relationship.
Lesson #2: You understand the value of a dollar and how to stretch it. When you ski bum, your thrifty-side awakens (if it hadn't already from undergraduate school). You learn to live with so much less and know it's totally doable. You live in a 150-square foot studio apartment with a roommate? No problem! At least you have a futon to share. You consider a bowl of Stove Top stuffing a meal? No problem! Who knows, you might be eligible for a free employee meal when you arrive to your third job of the day. This thriftiness translates well into the real world where you discover you don't need a slew of material items to be happy.
Lesson #3: You meet the most interesting people from all over the world and all different industries. Most of the people who can afford to vacation in ski towns have money. They have interesting jobs and lifestyles, which they often take for granted - sadly. Getting to rub elbows with such a diverse, privileged crowd is a great way to jump start your entry into the real world when you decide to leave the ski bum womb. Ski bumming is a great opportunity to network and meet influential people.
Lesson #4: Life is people. People are stories. Living as a ski bum gives you thousands of stories to tell. Being a storyteller is a gift. For example, I once worked as the personal assistant to the personal assistant for a very wealthy family from Chicago. A sheik from Saudi Arabia would call me weekly to see if anyone from said family needed a ride to LA or NY on his private jet. "Oh, no...but, thank you. The family is already on their private jet to London for the week." Or the time Gary Busey wanted to be seated immediately in the very busy restaurant where I hosted. "I'm sorry, we don't have a table available. What did you say your name was again? Could you spell it for me? I'll add you to the waiting list." My very favorite stories, though, involved seeing John Denver daily in his white, one-piece ski suit using my work's pay phone (JD, may you rest in peace). I guess pay phones should rest in peace, too.
Now, trust me. Go! Be a ski bum. Encourage others to do the same. The real world will be waiting for you whenever you return. Quite frankly, the real world would be a better place if more people had ski bum on their resume.