Ben & Jerry’s ice cream had some wise words to share. The bottom of the ice cream lid said “A dream alone is just a dream. A dream together is reality.” I am one motivated and high-hoped soul with dreams above the clouds. One year ago, I read the quote by Ben & Jerry and realized that I was going to need a partner in some of my business-creating endeavors. I could only think of one person that I would want to build a business with: Katie Christianson.
All throughout middle school, I grew up knowing Katie, but never talked to her until high school. Our ambitions aligned when we were both offered a chance to be in a program that allowed us to attend college full-time and skip our junior and senior years of high school. It was in college when we realized we had a similarly ambitious mindset and became close friends. Who better choose to interview than someone with a “make the most out of life” attitude?
Having just turned 20, Katie was born in Chicago and raised in Belvidere, Illinois. Katie is now back in Chicago getting her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Loyola University. While a formal education has taught her a lot, some of her biggest lessons came from the greatest teacher known to women, Life. With a mere 20 years of being Life’s student, Katie has learned more than those who are twice her age.
At the age of five, she realized that you don’t need anyone to tell you what you can and can’t do. Her mom took her, her sister, and her aunt to Florida when her dad was being a grouch about spending money. “Fine,” her mom said, “we will go without you.” Katie now affirms that you don’t let people hold you back, especially not when they hold you back from maximizing the quality of your life.
Kids will believe anything. And once they believe it, there is little anyone can say or do to change that belief. Katie was no exception to this rule. She shared her story about how she thought she was being evicted when she was six years old.
I thought my parents were lying to me when I came home from kindergarten one day and saw a “for sale” sign in the front yard of our house because my dad was always commenting about how broke we were. My mom was the opposite and would spend her last dime on making us happy so that we always felt secure, but I knew she was just being protective. So when I came home and saw a “for sale” sign in the front yard of our home, I thought we were being kicked out. My mom told me it was because the landlord passed away, but I didn’t believe her. This experience made me realize how important money was. It made me be creative and very budget-conscious even as a six year old. I felt guilty if I spent my parent’s money at all knowing that those funds were being pulled away from something else, so I would try selling lemonade or my belongings to make money. I later realized that the story my mom told me was actually true once I understood how estates are handled after the owner dies, but by the time I fully understood the concept, being savvy was already a part of who I was.
This story screams “maturity,” but, let’s face it, Katie was six years old – still a kid. That leaves an open question, just when did she grow up? Contrary to any assumption, Katie grew up two years after the house-for-sale controversy. After a work-related accident, Katie’s mom became permanently disabled. At first, this had no real effect on Katie other than her mom was always home and her dad worked more. It wasn’t until the day Katie fell off her bike in the street outside her house that she fully understood the effect of her mother’s permanent disability. “I started crying for her.” It was in that moment, when her mom looked at her from the window, that Katie knew there wasn’t going to be anyone coming outside to help her. “I had to help myself. I had to get up, brush myself off, and get out of the street. That’s the day I grew up.”
Among these lessons, Katie learned countless others. She developed a fear of having regret at her deathbed after living with a family member who found out he had terminal cancer the same day he had to have both legs amputated due to diabetes. Recently, Katie learned life is about finding hope in hopeless situations after losing her best friend on June 4th, 2012. As Katie puts it, “there are so many people who need you to pull through so that they can find the strength to pull through themselves.” Since as far back as Katie can remember, she knew that there was something deep within her, something special. “I know if I don’t make the most of each day, I am hindering this inner power.” She understands that she is in this world for a greater cause, admirably selfless in her way of living.
In addition to the hardships and lessons life has taught her, she has also had to combat the deep stereotypes about women that have been ingrained into society. I have witnessed with my own eyes that Katie has had to work harder to stand out. People automatically look to men to lead situations and they are surprised to see Katie being the one to take charge. Katie also admits that it’s a challenge, being a woman, to control her emotions. However, she says, “Women’s brains are wired to be 7 times more emotional than men, so it makes us better able to empathize. My ability to understand different perspectives has made me a better listener and a better friend.”
Personally, I have to say that all that makes Katie who she is doesn’t turn her into just a better friend, it makes her the best. Her determination is ruthless and her compassion and selflessness is considered, by some, to be reckless. Heck, I’m even a bit frightened of where she’s going in life. The goals Katie has set out to accomplish may come as a shock because she doesn’t just dream big, she dreams of turning the impossible into done it and onto the next one. I have learned so much from Katie and she has brought me to tears with her stories of how she got to where she is today. If there is one thing that I would take away from all Katie has taught me, it is that “it’s about persevering when everyone around you would understand if you didn’t.”
Stay Positive & Keep At It Katie
Garth E. Beyer
Katie has just started up her blog. You can visit it here