"Why are you so obsessed with doing deadly things?" My Swedish friend was clearly exasperated by my latest idea, which was to climb to the top of Mount Etna to look the lava straight in the face. "Haven't you ever heard of the word impossible?"
"Yes," I quipped back. "The word itself says, I'm possible!"
Climbing the tallest volcano in Europe wasn't about being daring; it fulfilled my need to challenge my fear of heights, to overcome this limitation in my mind. And even if we didn't end up climbing it, the motivation behind conquering the impossible remained.
My friend rolled her eyes. "Who taught you that cheesy quote?"
Audrey Hepburn may have said it, but it was my parents who taught me the meaning. The amazing part of their network marketing profession lies in overcoming the limits in their lives, and they never let me accept limits in my own life. Cheesy or not, having a firm belief that I can accomplish anything serves me well—it allows me not only to dream, but also to chase after those dreams.
Some may say that I'm simply lucky to be given opportunities by my parents. Not for a moment would I disagree; I am blessed and thankful that they earned not only their own freedom in life, but also mine.
Still, having this belief of possibility instilled in me didn't make the journey easy. I felt all my life that I was completely different.
The unique aspect of network marketing that taps into individual thinking and personal development carried over into my upbringing. My father taught me to challenge everything, not just accept and follow the herd. He always emphasizes taking personal responsibility, particularly enjoying Yoda's quote, "Do or do not. There is no try." Excuses don't fly at home. These traits turned me into an independent creature, always pushing against the current of societal norms, refusing to simply do what everyone else was doing.
Unfortunately, that current sweeps most people away—and they don't always appreciate anyone who runs into them while swimming upstream. Not only do I encounter friends who oppose my way of thinking, but frequently their parents are incredulous at the ideas I introduce into their home. I and my heresy quickly become unwelcome in those homes.
Yet our home became a safe haven of sorts for those friends who would embrace my quirky family and enjoy the open and encouraging environment my parents provided, where their ideas and dreams would be supported, even applauded, rather than put into a box.
And perhaps this is the best effect my parents are having on this world. They are helping set in motion a change in future generations toward independent thought and strong character. They are showing us another way to live, making everything possible... yes, even as cheesy as it sounds. And it is what will push me up that mountain in life to face the heat of the lava, with no doubt that I will conquer it.
JULIE JONAK, 18, grew up in Houston in a famil
of network marketers, with Art Jonak as her most
excellent father and Tom Schreiter as her hilarious
grandfather. Currently taking time off before university,
she is devoting herself to experiencing the world, having
just spent five months in Italy.