By Caitlin Kelly
The young boys I just blogged about, Unlocking the Truth, are doing something odd and radical.
They’re taking it to the streets.
I did it too, at their age.
Clearly, this won’t work for many kids — their town or city is too dangerous, they lack the maturity to handle it or their talents are sufficiently-developed.
But the positive effect it had on me still resonates today.
I spent my childhood, ages eight to 16, between boarding school and summer camp, always sharing a room, always surrounded by other people. So I was used to being around a lot of people I didn’t know.
I was then making little bead necklaces, and took my box of beads and a needle everywhere with me, the way an Ipod or cellphone now accompanies and distracts many tweens.
I decided to sit on a ledge in Yorkville, Toronto’s intimate, safe, upscale shopping area, and try to sell my necklaces.
Where did the idea come from? Who knows. It never occurred to me that it might be dangerous or boring.
And some people bought them. They stopped to talk to me. No one laughed or found it weird. It was amazing.
I went back, at 15, to sell hand-made envelopes, and at 19 to sell my black and white photos, mounted on matt-board, for $25 apiece. One of the city’s top fashion photographers of the time, who I knew, walked by — and bought one.
I needed no permits or license, just the chutzpah to put it out there, my personality and my talent. Lucky for me, both seemed to be appealing.
Then a woman stopped to look through my additional selection of color slides, and ordered one, printed into a huge poster, for her wall at home. It cost — in 1976 — $125, an enormous sum. I delivered it and she wrote me a check.
I was lying in bed at home, sore and bleeding from the surgical removal of all four wisdom teeth, when the bank called.
I knew a lawyer, even then, and sicc’ed him on her. I had my money within a week.
But it taught me a powerful and unforgettable lesson in when, where and how much to trust. Her elegant appearance and charming manner were seductive — and misleading. That’s a good lesson to learn at 19.
To her, I likely appeared a wide-eyed street kid who knew little and trusted much. Not for long!
In my freelance work today, I’m using much of what I learned out there alone at 12:
— Think you have talent? Go test the market, face to face when possible
— Some people will be wildly enthusiastic
— Some people will cheat you
— Some people will be indifferent
— Some will sneer or dismiss your work
–– Knowing young that you have specific, saleable skills or talents is empowering. You won’t starve!
— Being able to charm and engage your customers/clients/audience is huge
— Asking for attention, and managing it, can be stressful. Many kinds of work will require it
Here’s a video of Creedence Clearwater Revival singing “Down on the Corner”.