In high school, a lot of my friends worked as waitresses, hostesses, at kings island, or maybe as a lifeguard. When people asked me where I worked, I got to tell them about my favorite place, Mad Potter, a paint-your-own-pottery studio. Working there, we got to do everything — from writing up paperwork, glazing, offering creative advice, loading kilns, hosting birthday parties, you name it, we did it — and I loved every second of it. The studio was my second home in high school. It wasn't a typical job though, which lent itself to some outside the box lessons learned; here are a few of them.

1. Sometimes things are going to get heated before they shine.

Erika Glover

In other words, it isn't going to be easy to get to the pretty stuff. Life is hard sometimes, but it takes those hard times to make you shine. Just like with pottery being fired before it is its brilliant finished product.

2. Good things take time. 

Erika Glover

There are a lot of steps to a finished piece of ceramic. Many times, when I told folks that they had to come back in a week to pick up their piece, there was a sense of disappointment. Little did they know, after they waited patiently, their piece would come back looking beautiful.

3. Things aren’t always going to turn how you want.

That being said, sometimes the vision isn't always the outcome. There were definitely times that customers came to pick up their pieces a week later and it wasn't exactly what they wanted. Some of the time, there was optimism attached to this surprise, that maybe they liked it better, but other times there was anger.

4. There is no such thing as ugly.

Erika Glover

I cannot tell you how many times a child brought their piece up to the counter, or I went to describe the piece for our records, and there was not much else to the piece other than a mosh of browns and greens and occasionally some hot pink. But there was something about the pride that they had for their piece that washed over that. It was theirs, it was beautiful and creative and an outpouring of their spirit. Just like you and me, there is no ugly.

5. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Erika Glover

I mean this rather literally, paint fights and slip-n-slides are SO much fun, but also figuratively. Seasons of change amount to a lot of mess, chaos, and uncertainty — but have you ever stopped to look around you and see the people who are slipping down that slide with you, or the people who have their arms linked to yours for the long run? High school, specifically senior year, was a roller coaster for me but my coworkers were always there for a late night painting and tea-spilling session. Plus, glaze and dust get everywhere in the studio.

6. Sometimes the best memories come from the messiest times in your life. 

Erika Glover

I mean this rather literally, paint fights and slip-n-slides are SO much fun, but also figuratively. Seasons of change amount to a lot of mess, chaos, and uncertainty — but have you ever stopped to look around you and see the people who are slipping down that slide with you, or the people who have their arms linked to yours for the long run? High school, specifically senior year, was a roller coaster for me but my coworkers were always there for a late night painting and tea-spilling session. Plus, glaze and dust get everywhere in the studio.

7. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. 

One of my favorite things that we did at the studio was donate the homeless pieces. Not to worry, we waited for ages to consider them homeless. It hurt our hearts to see these beautiful pieces of art work go to waste, so we took them to the children's hospital for long-term patients to put in their rooms. This one is pretty straightforward, but doing this taught me a lot about humility, gratefulness, and joy.

8. Don’t skip over the small stuff, every step of your journey is important.

This is true in so many ways. At a pottery studio, we ask that you do just a few small things purely for the sake of your piece looking it's best, other than that, it's all you. If you skip one of those things, your piece doesn't reach it's full potential. The same is for life, for you. Don't skip the sunsets, don't skimp on your "you-time," don't give up on your heart.

9. Be. Your. Self.

Erika Glover

We had samples placed all around the studio, placed near where you would pick up that bisque from the shelves to paint. No surprise, those piece were some of our most popular, it was easy to see those as a finished product and try to strive to be that. There is nothing wrong with that, that's why we put them out, but there was no doubt that the artists, young and old, who used their creative noggin and let the piece flow from their paint brush, turned out to have the most beautiful and unique pieces. Many told stories, had identity, and displayed their artists thoughts so beautifully. Be yourself.

10. You might feel dull at times, but don’t let it keep you from shining. 

Erika Glover

Sometimes when youngins' would ask about where we were taking their pieces after they left, at which case I got to do my very most favorite part of my job, tour the kiln room. I had to make them pinkie promise not to touch, and the excitement in their eyes told me they weren't going to break that promise. This room is also where we glaze the pieces. Without fail, their smiles would drop as they saw their beloved pieces on shelves, covered completely in a powder blue glaze. I would then have to explain that it was this pale, dull blue color that made their pieces shiny in the big pottery oven. Maybe this time in your life is the glaze, you'll be shiny soon, I pinkie promise.

11. Own up to your mistakes.

It happens to the best of us. We had a LOT of light pink pigs with white eyes and black pupils, and just as many green turtles, and sometimes they went home with the wrong families. It's never easy when you have beady eyes peeking over the counter but owning up to the mistake is always the way to go.

12. Laughter is the best medicine.

Erika Glover

The studio was a destination for dates, birthday parties, office happy hours, ladies nights, family fun events, a meet up for separated families, and field trips. Whatever it was, there was always something to do, and always something to laugh about — without fail. Painting cured the hurt from the dropped pieces, the hard conversations, or the workday and laughter was a requirement.